The tissue that lines your lungs, stomach, heart and other organs is called mesothelium.
Malignant mesothelioma, is a rare form of cancer that develops from the protective lining that covers many of the body's internal organs, the mesothelium. In less common cases, the heart and abdomen can also be affected by mesothelioma cancer. Approximately 2,000 to 3,000 cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed each year.
Most people who develop mesothelioma have worked on jobs where they inhaled asbestos particles. It can take a long time 30 to 50 years between being around asbestos and getting the disease. Treatment includes surgery, radiation, chemotherapy or all three.
Types of Mesothelioma:
Mesothelioma can occur in different parts of the body. Three types of mesothelioma are pleural (lungs), peritoneal (stomach), and pericardial (heart).
* Asbestos causes irritation and inflammation of mesothelial cells, which results in irreversible scarring, cellular damage, and eventually cancer.
* Asbestos fibers enter cells and disrupt the function of cellular structures that are essential for normal cell division, causing cellular changes that lead to cancer.
* Asbestos causes the production of free radicals. These molecules damage DNA, and cause cells to mutate and become cancerous.
As was stated previously, symptoms of mesothelioma can vary, but the most common general symptoms are:
* Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.
* Pain in chest or abdomen.
* Fluid in the chest, lungs, or abdomen.
* Weight loss.
* Loss of appetite.
* Inability to sleep.
* Husky voice.
* Difficulty swallowing.
The treatment program for mesothelioma depends on many factors, including: the stage of the cancer, where the cancer is, how far the cancer has spread, how the cancer cells look under the microscope and the patient’s age and desires.
Cancer treatment usually focuses upon destroying malignant cells and preserving healthy ones. This can be accomplished in a number of ways. At the present, patients will typically utilize three primary mechanisms for mesothelioma treatment. Either surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy, or some combination of the three are considered the most effective for the treatment of malignant mesothelioma.
Many patients who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma are given more than one of these treatments this is referred to as multimodality therapy. By combining more than one of these effective, rigorous treatments, it is possible to approach a solution to the cancer from various angles. This improves upon the life expectancy of the patient so that they are much more likely to survive the disease.
In addition to these options, there are also some more experimental procedures. Among these options are photodynamic therapy, gene therapy, and immunotherapy. Unfortunately, these options are still in the experimental phase, with little knowledge as to their effectiveness. For this reason they are typically only available to patients as part of a clinical trial.