The Facts about Mesothelioma Cancer
Mesothelioma cancer is an extremely rare cancer form that is only found in the mesothelium. This form of malignancy generally affects those people who have been exposed to a situation where asbestos is present, typically those who have worked in buildings where it was used as a fire retardant..
What happens when a person has Mesothelioma Cancer?
This type of cancer directly affects the mesothelium and causes abnormal cells. These cells begin to divide rampantly. They invade and cause damage to all organs and tissues that are near the effected area. Mesothelioma cancer tends to spread fairly quickly throughout the body, as well.
This is the membrane that protects and covers many of the organs within your body. The membrane is made up of cells and is in separate layers. The first layer surrounds the organ extremely close and the second creates a protective sac around the organs.
Studies show that only 2,000 people each year are diagnosed with Mesothelioma cancer in the U.S. Studies further show that men are more apt to contract this type of cancer than women. However, Mesothelioma Cancer knows no boundaries and can be found in both genders. Typically, the older the person is, the more at risk they are for developing Mesothelioma cancer.
Who is at risk for Mesothelioma Cancer?
Anyone who is exposed to asbestos in large quantities and for long periods of time are especially at risk for developing Mesothelioma cancer. It is impossible to say who exactly will develop Mesothelioma cancer because it has been found in those who had only very little exposure to asbestos and those who had no exposure at all, but lived with someone who had a good deal of exposure to them. The risk to those living with someone works in asbestos filled areas is high. Asbestos is brought home by the worker as dust on his or her hair or clothing.
Mesothelioma Cancer Symptoms
Mesothelioma cancer is a slow growing type of cancer. Some cases do not see any type of symptoms until thirty to fifty years after asbestos exposure. Some symptoms can include:
Shortness of breath
Sudden Weight Loss
Pain in the abdominal region
Treatment of Mesothelioma Cancer
There are a few different treatment options available for those diagnosed with Mesothelioma cancer. The method of treatment will depend upon many different things such as the age, overall health, where the Mesothelioma cancer is located and the stage the Mesothelioma Cancer is in. The three typical types of treatment include radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and surgery. In some cases, treatments may be combined if it proves beneficial to the patient.
Malignant mesothelioma The cancer of the mesothelial cells
Mesothelium is the protective tissue that covers the chest cavity, abdominal cavity and the cavity around the heart and also produces a special lubricating fluid that allows the internal organs of the body to move around. Malignant Mesothelioma can be defined as the cancer of the mesothelial cells which become abnormal and start dividing without any order. Majority of the mesothelioma patients have a prior history of exposure to asbestos.
Types of malignant Mesothelioma
Malignant Mesothelioma or simply Mesothelioma can be divided into 3 main types namely
Of these, Epithelioid is the most common (50% to 70% cases) and stands the best chance of recovery. Sarcomatoid type is seen in 7% to 20% cases whereas mixed/biphasic type is seen in 20% to 35% cases.
Approximately, of the total cases of Mesothelioma originates in the chest cavity (pleura) and is known as pleural mesothelioma. The cancer affecting the lining of the abdomen (peritoneum) is called the peritoneal mesothelioma and that affecting the sac like space around the heart (pericardial cavity) is called the pericardial mesothelioma. Mesothelioma at times also affects the covering layer of the testicles. However, the last two types of cases are quite rare.
Diagnosis of malignant Mesothelioma
The tumors of the mesothelium can either be benign (non cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). So whenever there are symptoms like shortness of breath, pain in chest/abdomen or swelling in the abdomen, you should consult your doctor immediately.
After the initial X-rays and scans, the doctor may look inside the chest cavity (in case of pleural tumor) with an instrument called thoracoscope and the test is called thoracoscopy. In case of tumor in peritoneum the doctor may go for peritoneoscopy with the help of a tool called peritoneoscope. Finally, if the abnormal tissue is found then a biopsy is done, whereby a piece of the unnatural tissue is cut out and placed under microscope for examination.
After the confirmed diagnosis of Mesothelioma it is also essential to ascertain its stages i.e. whether it is in localized stage or in advanced stage. In the localized stage, the cancer is found in the lining of the chest cavity or in the diaphragm or the lung. Advanced malignant Mesothelioma can again be divided into 3 stages namely stage II, III and IV. In stage II, the cancer spreads beyond the chest lining to lymph nodes and in stage III it spreads into chest wall, center of the chest, heart, through the diaphragm or abdominal lining, etc. The final or the fourth stage is the one in which the cancer has already spread to distant organs.
Depending on the stage of the cancer, its location and the health, age and medical history of the patient, 3 types of treatments are mated out to malignant Mesothelioma patients surgery (to remove the tumor), radiation therapy (application of high energy rays) and chemotherapy (usage of combination of drugs). This apart, if there is any accumulation of fluid in the chest or abdomen, then the doctor needs to drain it out and the process is regarded as thoracentesis and paracentesis respectively.
Mesothelioma is serious cancer
Mesothelioma is serious cancer and asbestos is main cause. During in 1940 and 1950s constructions community used asbestos as the best thing to happen after cement for construction industry. Asbestos was applied greatly in insulator and ceiling tiles in homes, schools and factories because to high degree of stability and resistance to very high temperatures.
Nonetheless, asbestos is capable of causing harm, contaminant. It has trend to break into small parts and remain stay in the air for longer durations. For individual who is that comes in contact it, becomes attackable to serious disease to lung cancer or mesothelioma lung cancers.
What types of Mesothelioma?
Name of Mesothelioma, asbestos related cancer, acquires its name from the mesothelium cells that are responsible for protecting and enabling easy movement of our vital organs such as lungs, heart and the abdomen in the body. Mesothelioma is generally of three types, pleural mesothelioma, peritoneal mesothelioma and pericardial mesothelioma.
If a person is suffering from hoarseness, difficulty in breathing, loss in weight, coughing, blood in sputum, chest pain, weak muscles, reduced tactile sensitivity, he may be suffering from Pleural mesothelioma or the cancer of lining of the lungs. This is the most common type of mesothelioma and almost two-thirds of the mesothelioma patients suffer from pleural mesothelioma. The Peritoneal mesothelioma or cancer of the lining of the abdomen causes impaired bowel motion, bloating, swelling in feet, and nausea. This is less common among mesothelioma patients and it affects one-third of the mesothelioma patients. Pericardial mesothelioma is of the cancer of lining of the heart. It is also caused because of asbestos exposure. However, its prevalence is rare. Pericardial mesothelioma manifests in the form of chest pain, palpitations and cough.
Lawsuits related to Mesothelioma:
The dangerous consequences of long term contact with asbestos and its linkage to mesothelioma cancers has led to several lawsuits against its manufacturers. The manufactures were claimed by the attorneys that they were aware of the capable of causing harm affects of asbestos exposure and yet persisted with its use for profit motives. This is the reason why juries have ordered stringent awards in many mesothelioma and asbestos related lawsuits.
Mesothelioma a cancer caused by asbestos
The internal organs of the human body are encased in a protective sac called the mesothelium. Examples of mesothelilial membranes are the peritoneum (abdominal organs), pleura (lungs), and pericardium (heart).
Under specific conditions, the cells of the protective membrane divide uncontrolled and become cancerous. This disease is termed as Mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer which is caused by prolonged exposure to asbestos dust.
The disease is found to occur among those who work in shipyards, asbestos mines and factories, industries that produce asbestos based products, and the heating and construction businesses. Approximately 3,000 cases occur each year in the US, and most patients are between 50-70 years old. Statistics show that males are commonly affected and among them whites more than African Americans.
First studied in the late 1700s in depth studies were only done in the 1960s. Tumors of the Mesothelioma can be benign or malignant. The malignant Mesothelioma are categorized into three types:
Epithelioid, accounting for 50-70% of mesotheliomas.
Sarcomatoid, accounting for 7-20%.
When asbestos fibers are breathed into the lungs they travel through large air passages to reach the smaller passages and from them the pleura. In the pleura they damage: the mesothelial cells leading to cancer; lung tissue causing lung cancer; and the development of scar tissue within the lungs known as asbestosis. When asbestos fibers are swallowed they reach the abdominal cavity and cause peritoneal mesothelioma.
Research reveals that the disease only manifests 20-50 years after being exposed to asbestos dust. The symptoms are not specific to the disease but a patient may develop:
Chest pain accompanied by tightness believed to be caused by accumulation of fluid in the pleura.
Low back pain.
Swelling of face and arms.
Weight loss that is unexplained.
Persistent dry cough.
Problems with blood clotting.
Since the above are common to minor ailments, patients often ignore the symptoms. It is advisable to consult a doctor if any of the above symptoms persist or if you feel you have been knowingly or unknowingly exposed to asbestos.
A doctor will:
Take down a detailed medical history and try and determine the symptoms and risk factors.
Do a thorough physical examination and check for signs of:
o Pleural effusion, fluid accumulated in the chest cavity.
o Fluid in the abdominal cavity.
o Pericardial effusion, fluid in the lining of the heart.
Take a chest x-ray and check for thickening of the pleura, calcifications, and lowered lung fissures.
Ask for a CT scan to determine clearly the location, size, and extent of the problem if any is suspected.
Other risk factors are cigarette or cigar smoking, exposure to radiation, exposure to zeolite a compound that is similar to asbestos, exposure to or infections caused by SV40, a Simian virus.
Those who work in a risky environment should wear protective clothing, have the surroundings tested regularly for suspended asbestos particles, and ensure that they have regular medical tests and report to the doctor any ailments that persist.
Being aware of the disease and its problems helps.
Who is at risk from mesothelioma cancer?
Mesothelioma is a deadly cancer which is fairly rare although in the last few decades the number of people who have died from it have dramatically increased. Mesothelioma is caused by exposure to asbestos without sufficient protection. When a person is exposed to asbestos, he or she inhales tiny asbestos fibres which are suspended in the air. These fibres pass into the respiratory system and end up becoming lodged in the lungs. An accumulation of asbestos fibres in the lining of the lungs like this can cause nearby cells to deform and eventually leads to what is known as pleural mesothelioma. Accumulation of asbestos fibres in the peritoneum (lining of the abdomen) can lead to peritoneal mesothelioma and build up of fibres around the tissue of the heart can cause pericardial mesothelioma. Asbestos fibres reach these places over time or because they have been transported there by the lymphatic system.
Mesothelioma has a very large latency period (time between getting the cancer and feeling the symptoms of it). This period is usually between 30 50 years and so a person who bears mesothelioma is unlikely to know that they have got it. This is why mesothelioma is so hard to diagnose in its early stages because it shows no symptoms and the few symptoms that it does show such as wheezing and shortness of breath are typical of far more common diseases such as pneumonia. The likelihood of being cured depends largely on how early and how aggressively the cancer is treated. If it is treated when it has fully developed and matured then it is extremely difficult to cure.
In this way, those at risk are those who have worked amongst asbestos. Construction workers, asbestos manufacturers or those who have lived within a mile of an asbestos factory are the people who have the largest contact with asbestos. Those who are in contact with these people are also at risk because asbestos fibers can stick to clothes and hair. The majority of people who are discovering that they have mesothelioma are elderly men of about 60 70. This was the generation which worked with asbestos a lot without sufficient protection. Many of these men are now lodging multi million dollar lawsuits against the companies who exposed them to the dangers of asbestos.
Cancer mesothelioma It is a born killer
The pericardium is the mesothelial tissue that surrounds and acts as a safeguard to the heart. The pleural mesothelium membrane covers the lungs and chest cavity and peritoneum is the mesothelial tissue that enfolds the organs in the abdominal cavity.
What is actually cancer mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that affects the mesothelium, a dual layered membrane with which our chest, lungs, abdomen and the heart is wrapped safely.
Cancer Mesothelioma can damage any of these cells, although pleural mesothelioma is more common; it metastasizes and at an advanced stage the disease reach to the other parts of the body like the lymph nodes, lungs, chest wall, or abdominal organs.
How is cancer mesothelioma caused?
Though asbestos exposure is the primary reason in 70% to 80% of the cases, mesothelioma can be caused by other means, like exposure to the chemical zeolite that is also present in asbestos.
Asbestos has become part of our daily life being in cement, brake linings, roof shingles, flooring products, textiles, and insulation. The asbestos fibers take their toll by going into our windpipe and settling in the internal organs causing the formation of carcinogenic tumors.
The overall scenario regarding cancer mesothelioma
Though there is a ban on certain asbestos products, around 1000 people in France and above 2000 people in the U.S are faced with this nightmare each year.
Mostly, workers from shipyards, asbestos mines and mills are prone to this mishap, due to a constant exposure to asbestos. However, it takes 30 to 50 years for the disease to surface and show symptoms though they are not always accurate.
Cancer mesothelioma is proving more than a menace and the average person live for 12-24 months; the earlier it is detected, the better is the cure process.
The recent picture
Today, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have put restrictions towards maintaining acceptable levels of asbestos exposure in the workplace. People who work with asbestos are geared up with individual protective equipment to lower their risk of exposure. Even the family members of the workers are prone to the disease, so they are advised to take a shower before leaving for home.
Symptoms of cancer mesothelioma
– Feeling out of breath and pain in the chest due to an accretion of fluid in the pleura
– Peritoneal mesothelioma comprises weight loss and abdominal pain and a bulging abdomen due to accumulation of fluid
– Bowel obstruction, blood clotting abnormalities, anemia, and fever
– Pain, trouble swallowing, or swelling of the neck or face
However, a registered medical practitioner can diagnose you correctly.
Diagnosis of cancer mesothelioma
Diagnosis commences with an assessment of the patient’s medical history, as well as any history of asbestos exposure. A complete physical examination may be performed, including:
-X-rays of the chest or abdomen
-A CT (or CAT) scan or an MRI may also be useful. A CT scan is a sequence of comprehensive pictures of areas inside the body created by a computer linked to an X-ray machine
-In an MRI, a strong magnet connected to a computer is used to draw meticulous pictures of areas affected by cancer mesothelioma inside the body. These pictures are viewed on a monitor and can also be printed
-A biopsy regarding the taking out of a sample tissue for examination is needed to verify a diagnosis of mesothelioma. Types of biopsy depending on the location of the tumor are thoracoscopy, peritoneoscopy
Lastly, the stage of the disease is important to the doctor for the correct diagnosis.
Cancer mesothelioma treatment
Treatment of cancer mesothelioma yields results depending on the site of the cancer, the phase of the disease, and the patient’s physical condition. The usual treatments for cancer mesothelioma are surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. Occasionally, these treatments are combined.
Surgery is an effective way to remove tumor but the age of the person matters. Radiation therapy and chemotherapy are good ways to ward off the symptoms.
Often, high-end drugs are given to the patient to reduce the fluid formation in body.
Thus, it is better for the workers to get a medical check up at equal intervals and be aware of its symptoms. If a patient is diagnosed with cancer mesothelioma at the earliest stage, the treatments might do wonders for him.