Learn Mesothelioma Causes, Symptoms, Treatment,& Prognosis
Facts about Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma is cancer that comes from cells lining the chest or abdominal cavities.
Mesothelioma usually results from exposure to asbestos.
-When mesothelioma touches the chest, the doctor can examine the inside of the chest cavity with a special instrument called a thoracoscope.
-When mesothelioma affects the abdomen, the doctor can examine the inside of the abdomen using a special tool called peritonoscope.
-Professionals diagnose mesothelioma with a biopsy.
-The prospects for patients with mesothelioma depend on the speed of detection of the disease and its aggressive treatment.
Doctors often first detect mesothelioma at an advanced stage of the disease, usually with poor prognosis.
What is mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer (malignant tumor) that most often occurs from cells lining the chest (the pleura) or the abdomen (peritoneum) sacs. Pleural mesothelioma is the most common form. It often manifests as chest symptoms such as chest pain, coughing and / or shortness of breath. Shortness of breath is often due to a large pleural effusion (fluid in the chest cavity). Peritoneal mesothelioma is much less common. This can affect the organs of the abdomen and its symptoms are related to this part of the body, namely abdominal swelling, nausea, vomiting and obstruction of the intestines. The most rare form of mesothelioma is pericardial mesothelioma, which involves the sac surrounding the heart.
There are two main types of mesothelioma, epithelial and sarcomatoid cells. Sometimes these two types of cells may be present, also called biphasic. The sarcomatoid type is more rare and only occurs in about 15% of cases; this suggests a darker prognosis. In very rare cases, mesothelioma can come from non-malignant benign cells. Surgery heals what is called benign mesothelioma.
What are the symptoms of mesothelioma?
Most people complain of shortness of breath. They may also have chest pains and coughs. Patients may also be asymptomatic, as the disease may be discovered by physical examination or abnormal chest X-ray.
As the disease progresses, shortness of breath increases and weight loss, loss of appetite and night sweats can develop. Local invasion by the tumor can result in a change of voice, loss of diaphragm function, region-specific symptoms, and involvement of adjacent structures.
What are the causes of mesothelioma?
Most people with malignant mesothelioma worked in jobs where they breathed asbestos. Usually this concerns men over 40 years old. Others have been exposed to asbestos in a domestic environment, often unknowingly. The number of new cases of mesothelioma has been relatively stable since 1983, even as the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) put in place restrictions on asbestos. In Europe, the number of new cases of mesothelioma continues to increase.
How long does it take after exposure to asbestos for mesothelioma to manifest itself?
People exposed in the 1940s, 1950s, 1970s and 1970s are now diagnosed with mesothelioma because of the long latency period of the asbestos-caused disease.
How do health professionals diagnose mesothelioma?
A pathological examination from a diagnostic biopsy mesothelioma. A health professional removes the tissue. Then a pathologist places it under a microscope and makes a definitive diagnosis and establishes a pathology report. It's the end of a process that usually starts with symptoms that most people get to the doctor: fluid buildup in the lungs (pleural effusions), shortness of breath, chest pain, abdominal pain or swelling . The doctor may order an x-ray or CT scan of the chest or abdomen. If further investigation is warranted, the following tests may be performed:
This is a relatively simple procedure that involves numbing the chest wall and removing fluid for the diagnosis and / or relief of symptoms of fluid space in the chest cavity. Unfortunately, it is often difficult to obtain an absolute diagnosis by differentiating an adenocarcinoma from the lung, a severe cellular reaction to an inflammation and the mesothelium (the cells lining the thoracic cavity). More invasive techniques are often needed to confirm the diagnosis and develop an effective treatment strategy.
For pleural mesothelioma, the doctor can examine the inside of the chest cavity using a special instrument called a thoracoscope. A doctor makes an incision in the chest wall and places a thoracoscope in the chest between two ribs. Doctors perform this test on patients under hospital anesthesia. If fluid has accumulated in your chest, your doctor will be able to drain the fluid from your body by putting a needle in your chest and sucking gently to remove the fluid (procedure called thoracentesis).
For peritoneal mesothelioma, the doctor can also examine the inside of the abdomen using a special tool called peritonoscope. A doctor places a peritonoscope in an opening in the abdomen. Doctors perform this test on a patient under hospital anesthesia. If fluid has accumulated in your abdomen, your doctor may drain fluid from your body by putting a needle into your abdomen and sucking gently to remove fluid (a process called paracentesis).
If abnormal tissue is found, the doctor should cut a small piece and have it examined under a microscope. Doctors do this during thoracoscopy or peritonoscopy, but can do it during surgery. Unfortunately, in some cases, tumor cells can develop along the tract where biopsy is performed, although this remains to be proven. Radiation in the area minimizes this risk.