Benign Mesothelioma Info
Benign Mesothelioma Info
There are two forms of mesothelioma, benign and malignant. Malignant mesothelioma is a life threatening cancer while benign mesothelioma is not a form of cancer. The main difference between the malignant and benign forms is that benign tumors do not invade nearby tissues, while malignant tumor cells can relocate to other parts of the body by travelling through the blood stream.
While the cause for malignant mesothelioma is asbestos exposure, the cause of benign mesothelioma is unknown. Benign mesothelioma is a non-cancerous tumor within the pleura, the lining of the lungs. This lining consists of mesothelial cells which secretes a lubricant that keeps the lungs and other organs from rubbing against each other.
Men are more often diagnosed with these nonmalignant tumors, which tend to occur more often in the lungs than in the stomach, heart, or reproductive organs. Less than 10% of mesothelioma cases are benign. Although benign tumors do not spread to the rest of the body, it can have a negative effect on the surrounding tissues and organs if it becomes too large.
When they grow large enough, these tumors can cause fluids to build up in the mesothelial membranes, and very large tumors can cause coma and seizures.
Symptoms and Diagnoses of Benign Mesothelioma
The symptoms are often not apparent, and the tumors are picked up during an X-ray or routine health check up. When they do exist they are similar to the symptoms of malignant mesothelioma. These are shortness of breath, chest pain, and a chronic, dry cough. The one symptom that does distinguish between the benign and malignant forms are clubbed fingers.
This occurs when the tumor causes pressure on the lung which in turn causes low levels of oxygen in the blood stream, creating distorted angles of the nails beds in the patient's fingers. However clubbed fingers is not enough to make a positive diagnoses of benign mesothelioma since heart disease, lung cancer, and cystic fibroses can also cause it.
Benign and malignant mesothelioma are diagnosed in the same way since it is impossible to tell the difference without more detailed testing. Diagnosis starts with a thorough review of the patient's medical history, especially whether the patient has a history of being exposed to asbestos to find out if the tumor may be benign or malignant.
Following this would be a physical examination which include imaging tests such as X-ray, CT scans, and MRI scans. An X-ray is usually done first after which a CT or MRI scan is done to get a detailed image of the exact location of the tumors. Finally a biopsy is done to confirm the diagnosis of mesothelioma and whether it is benign or malignant.
A tissue biopsy consists of removing a sample of tumor cells from the affected area, while a fluid biopsy involves inserting a long needle into the tumor to remove fluid.
Treatment and Prognosis for Benign Mesothelioma
Benign Mesothelioma is relatively easy to treat. It requires the removal of the tumors which causes pain or discomfort. Usually a surgeon can remove the tumor in a single operation and the prognosis in this case is usually very good. Because 75 % of the time the tumors develop in the lungs, a procedure called thoracotomy is performed, during which a segment of the lung, a lobe or even the entire lung is removed, although the latter is very rare.
A possible complication of surgery is pleural effusion, which is a build-up of fluid in the pleura, causing pressure on the lungs and heart. Patients are usually fitted with a chest drain to remove excess fluid during the first few days following surgery. Studies show that 90 % of patients never experience a return of tumors following surgery, but follow-up checkups are necessary to make sure the tumor does not return, especially since benign mesothelioma can be a predecessor to the malignant form of the disease.
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