Mesothelioma Symptoms And Treatments

Mesothelioma

MesotheliomaMesothelioma is a form of malignant cancer in which cancerous cells can be found in the mesothelium, which is a kind of sac like protective membrane that covers the body’s internal organs like lining of the chest (the pleura) or abdominal cavities (the peritoneum). These membranes are composed of layers of cells that surround the organ and form a sac around it.



The mesothelium produces and releases a type of lubricating fluid that allows the organs to move; for example, expanding and contracting of the lungs and beating of the heart. Pleural mesothelioma, which mostly affects the chest area, is the most common form of mesothelioma.

Mesothelium occurs when cells of mesothilium start growing abnormally and invade and damage the surrounding organs. From the original location, these cancer cells can spread to other parts of the body. In most cases, mesothelioma starts in the pleura or peritoneum.



Symptoms Of Mesothelioma

Symptoms of mesothelioma may not show for as long as 15 to 50 years after exposure to asbestos. Sometimes the cancer takes decade to develop and show up the symptoms. Some common symptoms of pleura mesothelioma include shortness of breath, and pain in the chest due to build up of fluid in this area. In peritoneal mesothelioma, the fluid accumulates in the abdomen and causes symptoms like abdominal pain, swelling, weight loss, night sweats, anemia, blood clotting, bowel obstruction and fever.

Abdominal Pain

When cancer spread out to other parts of the body other then mesothelium, there can be symptoms like pain, difficulty swallowing and swelling in the face or neck.  Local invasion can also obstruct the function of diaphragm and voice changes may also occur.

Treatment For Mesothelioma

Treatment for malignant mesothelioma largely depends on the stage, location of the cancer as well as patient’s age and health condition.  A biopsy is done to diagnose mesothelioma. Surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy and sometimes combination of these therapies are used to treat mesothelioma.

Surgery

Several types of surgeries are conducted for treating mesothelioma. Among them, a pleurectomy is done on patients who are at early stage to remove affected part of chest or abdomen lining and the surrounding tissues.

Surgery


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An operation called pneumonectomy is carried out to remove a lung and the lining surrounding the heart, if required.

Radiation Therapy

To shrink the tumour and kill the cancer cells, high-energy radiation therapy is often used. Treating pleural mesothelioma with radiation therapy has been found helpful in alleviating pain in most patients, though the results might be short lived.

When fluid gathers in the chest or abdomen, doctors remove it by putting needles into the chest and abdomen using gentle suction. Often drugs are put through a tube after suction to prevent accumulation of fluid again. Fluid removed from the chest is called thoracentesis and fluid removed from abdomen is called paracentesis.

Chemotherapy

Use of drugs to kill cancer cells is known as chemotherapy. This therapy is administered by putting the drug inside the body by inserting needle in the muscles and vein or patient is given pills orally. Drugs are usually very toxic and have lot of side effects.

Chemotherapy

The success of the treatment depends upon how early mesothelioma has been detected and how accurately the disease has been treated. Right diagnosis and right treatment can increase the patient’s quality of life and chances of survival.

Photo Credit: http://www.jdlawgroup.com/practice-areas/mesothelioma/


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