Mesothelioma is a form of cancer that is most of the time caused by inhalation or exposure to asbestos which are a set of six naturally occurring silicate minerals exploited commercially for their desirable physical properties. This exposure allows malignant cells or cancerous tumor to develop in the mesothelium which is how the disease got it name. Mesothelioma is a protective lining that covers most of the body's internal cavities and organs. Although it is sometimes referred to as "asbestos lung cancer", mesothelioma and lung cancer are not the same. They both occur in different places in the body. While lung cancers occur inside the lung itself, mesothelioma occurs in the lining of the lung.
Mesothelioma comes in different type and the specific type of mesothelioma is named for the tissue where the cancer started. For instance, Pleural mesothelioma starts in the outer lining of the lungs and internal chest wall while Peritoneal mesothelioma starts in the lining of the abdominal cavity. However pleural mesothelioma is the most common type of Mesothelioma and makes up about 70% of it cases.
Signs and Symptoms
Symptoms of Mesothelioma take a while to appear after exposure to asbestos. Nearly all of us have been exposed to asbestos at some point in our lives. It’s in the air we breathe, the water we drink, from natural deposits in the earth and from the deterioration of asbestos products around us. Most people however, do not become ill because of these exposures. The people that are usually more affected are those who have worked in jobs where more substantial exposure occurred over longer periods of time and their family members. The symptoms may not appear until 20 to 50 years after. The symptoms for both Pleural and Peritoneal mesothelioma include:
· Shortness of breath
· Cough (Pleural)
· Weight loss
· Bowel obstruction (Peritoneal)
· Blood clotting abnormalities (Peritoneal)
· Anemia (Peritoneal)
· Wheezing or hoarseness (Pleural)
· Fever (Pleural)
· Shortness of breath (Pleural)
· Fatigue (Peritoneal)
· A mass in the abdomen (Peritoneal)
· Problems with bowel function (Peritoneal)
· Abdominal swelling and pain due to a buildup of fluid in the abdominal cavity; a condition called ascites.
· Chest wall pain because of the accumulation of fluid in the pleural space is often symptoms of pleural mesothelioma.
These symptoms can however be caused by other less serious conditions. Tumors that affect the abdominal cavity often do not cause symptoms until they are at a late stage.
In severe cases, the person may have many tumor masses. The individual may develop a Pneumothomax, or collapse of the lung. The disease may also spread to other parts of the body except the bone, brain or adrenal glands. Pleural tumors are usually only seen on one side of the lungs.
Mesothelioma is still a difficult cancer to treat. However, it is not a disease without hope because there are at least 42 active clinical trials for mesothelioma with each one of them striving to demonstrate a better treatment outcome than standard therapies. While trials like Chemotherapy, Radiation and surgery have been around for a while, there are newer therapies that can better target the tumor cells instead of indiscriminately harming cancer and healthy cells alike. These new therapies go by different names depending on the type and include terms like: anti-cytokine, antiangiogenesis, enzyme inhibitor therapy, kinase inhibitor therapy, gene therapy, biological therapy, and immunotherapy.
This is a hub written by Soni 2006 that can add more to your knowledge about this disease: What-is-Mesothelioma-and-why-it-is-so-costly
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