Mesothelioma – Symptoms & Treatments

The mesothelioma is the thin lining on the surface of the body cavities and the organs that are contained within them. Most mesothelioma begin as one or more nodules that progressively grow to form a solid coating of tumor surrounding the lung, abdominal organs or heart.

Mesothelioma most commonly occurs in the chest cavity and is associated with exposure to asbestos in up to 90% of cases. It has been shown that some asbestos fibers that are inhaled quickly work their way through the lung tissue and into the chest cavity.

There are two major cell types of mesothelioma, Epithelial and Sarcomatoid. Sometimes both of these cell types can be present. The sarcomatoid type is rarer and occurs in only about 15% of cases. It portends a poorer prognosis. In very rare cases, mesothelioma can originate from benign, non-malignant cells. This so-called benign mesothelioma can be cured surgically.

There are four known types of mesothelioma :

1. Pleural Mesothelioma
This type of mesothelioma develops in the lining of the lungs known as the pleura. It is the most common form of malignant mesothelioma with around 70 percent of cases being pleural in origin.

2. Peritoneal Mesothelioma
This form of mesothelioma develops in the lining of the abdominal cavity known as the peritoneal membrane.

3. Pericardial Mesothelioma
This form of mesothelioma develops in the lining of the heart known as the pericardium.

4. Testicular Mesothelioma
Testicular mesothelioma develops in the tunica vaginalis of the testicles and is the rarest form of the cancer.

Usually, this mesothelioma involves men over 40 years of age. Others have been exposed to asbestos in a household environment often without knowing it. Asbestos is a naturally-occurring fibrous substance that was widely used in the 20th century in a number of different industries.

Mesothelioma symptoms often resemble less-serious conditions which can make diagnosis difficult. Below is a list of several common symptoms mesothelioma patients may experience.

1. Pleural Symptoms
Shortness of breath, chest pain, persistent cough, fatigue, lumps under the skin on the chest, swelling of the face and arms

2. Peritoneal Symptoms
Weight loss, abdominal pain and swelling, bowel obstruction, nausea, fever

3. Pericardial Symptoms
Heart palpitations, irregular heartbeat, chest pain, difficulty breathing, night sweats

4. Testicular Symptoms
Painful or painless testicular lumps

Treatment depends on the location of the tumor, how far it has spread, and your age and general health. Whatever the stage of mesothelioma, there are several types of treatments that can be used.

There are three traditional kinds of treatment for patients with malignant mesothelioma.

1. Surgery
Surgery has traditionally referred to the cutting out or reconstruction of physical parts of the body

2. Radiation therapy: The use of high-energy radiation from x-rays, gamma rays, neutrons, and other sources to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors

3. Chemotherapy
Application of the beneficial effects of drugs to control or cure diseases or abnormal states in living organisms or tissues

Experimental treatments are also available to patients who participate in a clinical trial, conducted to test up-and-coming procedures and medications.

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