Mesothelioma Symptoms, Causes and Treatment – What is Mesothelioma? Mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive form of cancer that develops in the lining of the lungs, stomach, or heart.
The average life expectancy of mesothelioma patients is 12 – 21 months after diagnosis. Symptoms can include chest pain, shortness of breath, and general fatigue.
Three out of every four cases of mesothelioma disease begins in the chest cavity. Mesothelioma can also start in the abdominal cavity and around the heart.
Wherever they come from, malignant cells of the mesothelium can invade and damage surrounding tissue. Cancer cells can also metastasize, or spread, to other parts of the body.
Mesothelioma Symptoms, Causes and Treatment
Often by the time mesothelioma is diagnosed, the disease is already chronic. The 5-year survival rate is about 5% to 10%.
Most patients with pulmonary mesothelioma die from respiratory failure or pneumonia. Some patients develop small bowel obstruction when the tumor extends through the diaphragm, the muscle that separates the chest and abdominal cavities.
A small number of people die of heart complications when the tumor invades the pericardium – the thin sac that surrounds the heart – and the heart itself.
There are four types of mesothelioma cancer, namely:
- Pleural mesothelioma (pleural mesothelioma), which is cancer that attacks the mesothelium lining of the lungs (pleura).
- This type is the most common type. Peritoneal mesothelioma (peritoneal mesothelioma), namely mesothelioma in the lining of the abdominal cavity (peritoneum).
- Pericardial mesothelioma (pericardial mesothelioma), namely mesothelioma that attacks the protective layer of the heart organ.
- Testicular mesothelioma (testis mesothelioma), namely mesothelioma that attacks the protective layer of the testes or testicles.
How Mesothelioma Affects Your Body
Scientists don’t know for sure what causes mesothelioma, however, researchers have identified factors that have been shown to increase the risk of developing cancer. Although not the only factor, asbestos exposure is strongly associated with the development of mesothelioma.
The main cause of mesothelioma is working with asbestos or asbestos. Asbestos is a group of minerals with thin microscopic fibers.
Mesothelioma, like all cancers, begins when a cell’s DNA undergoes changes (mutations) that cause cells to receive misinformation and multiply uncontrollably. This uncontrolled cell growth results in a tumor (mass).
Because these fibers are resistant to heat, fire, and chemicals and do not conduct electricity, asbestos has been mined and used extensively in construction, automotive, and other industries.
If tiny asbestos fibers are released into the air, as in the manufacturing process, they can be inhaled or swallowed, causing serious health problems.
As many as 75% of cases of mesothelioma can be attributed to asbestos exposure in the workplace. There is also some evidence that family members and other people living with asbestos workers have a higher risk of developing mesothelioma, and possibly other asbestos-related diseases.
As mesothelioma progresses, it can cause fluid to build up in the pleural space between the lungs and the chest wall, causing chest pain and shortness of breath.
If left untreated, mesothelioma often spreads to the lymph nodes and progresses rapidly, resulting in death.
Mesothelioma differences vary based on where the cancer cells are located. Pericardial mesothelioma causes chest pain and difficulty, whereas tunica vaginalis mesothelioma causes testicular swelling.
Mesothelioma most commonly affects the mesothelium of the lungs (called pleural mesothelioma). Pleural mesothelioma has the following symptoms:
- Cough with unbearable pain.
- Shortness of breath due to fluid buildup in the chest.
- An unusual lump in the tissue under the skin of the chest.
- Weight loss for no apparent reason.
Symptoms of peritoneal (abdominal) mesothelioma can include:
- Weight loss
- Swelling and pain in the stomach
- Blood clotting disorders
- Intestinal obstruction
- Anemia Fever
Common Symptoms of Mesothelioma
- Dry cough
- Hard to breathe
- Respiratory complications
- Pain in the chest or stomach
- Night sweat fever
- Pleural effusion (fluid around the lungs)
- Fatigue Weakness in muscles
Because many conditions have these symptoms, having these symptoms does not mean you have mesothelioma. It is important to see your doctor to determine what the cause is.
If you believe you have been exposed to asbestos at work or at home, there are steps you can take to limit your exposure and reduce your risk of developing mesothelioma.
- Ask your boss if you are at risk of inhaling asbestos in your workplace.
- Be sure to follow all safety rules set by your employer, including wearing protective equipment or showering and changing into work clothes before returning home.
- If you live in an older home, it is safer to leave the asbestos than move it.
- Crushing the asbestos fibers releases it into the air, making it easier to breathe.
- If you believe your home contains asbestos, call a professional to test the air to determine if you are at risk.
Other contributing factors include radiation therapy, age and genetics. Radiation is primarily concerned with patients who have received high-dose radiation therapy to the chest, such as patients with lymphoma.
Although the risk of mesothelioma increases with age, even children who have received radiation therapy can develop the disease, so if you have received this kind of treatment, it is important to talk to your doctor.
About 1% of patients diagnosed with mesothelioma inherit a genetic mutation from their parents that puts them at a higher risk of developing the disease.
Health History and Physical Examination
Because mesothelioma is rare, it is often misdiagnosed at first. If you have symptoms that suggest you may have mesothelioma, your doctor will likely take a complete medical history to check for symptoms and possible things that increase your risk of developing the disease, especially exposure to asbestos. Asbestos exposure is No. 1 which makes mesothelioma more likely.
Your doctor will also ask about your general health and perform an examination to check for possible signs of mesothelioma. This may include fluid in the chest cavity, abdomen, or pericardium (thin membrane around the heart).
Depending on the examination findings, your doctor may refer you for mesothelioma testing.
To determine the diagnosis of mesothelioma, the doctor will conduct a series of medical interviews or a history and physical examination. Possible further checks:
- Imaging – such as X-ray, CT-Scan, MRI, PET Scan.
- Blood test to check for mesothelin biomarkers.
- Biopsy, which is taking a sample of tissue / body fluids to be examined under a microscope, to identify the presence of malignant cells or not.
Some mesothelioma treatment steps are generally carried out such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Surgery is performed to remove cancer, which is generally still in the early stages of disease progression, although in some cases it has not completely removed cancer cells.
Preventive measures against mesothelioma that can be done is to avoid or reduce contact with asbestos or asbestos. Because, this is the main cause of mesothelioma.
However, if the risk of exposure to asbestos is unavoidable or if you are a person who has a job with a risk of exposure to asbestos, comply with the established safety rules. In addition, you also have to know the safe handling of asbestos.
Treatment for mesothelioma is given based on its type. Some types of mesothelioma can be supported with surgery, and others with chemotherapy. Some mesothelioma treatments that can be given include:
Recommended surgery to remove.
The best cure for mesothelioma is considered major surgery, combined with chemotherapy and sometimes radiation, as it provides the greatest chance of long-term survival.
Patients with mesothelioma may have many different surgical options depending on the type of mesothelioma, stage of cancer and the purpose of surgery.
However, not all mesothelioma patients can undergo surgery. Mesothelioma doctors test each patient before surgery to make sure they are healthy enough to undergo surgery. With pulmonary function checks and heart pressure, doctors evaluate lung and heart protection.
Surgery with mesothelioma is neither cure nor risk free, but it does provide the possibility of important changes in time and quality of life for survival. The surgery is complex and is performed in leading cancer centers featuring the latest technologies such as robotic surgery.
Chemotherapy treatment uses drugs that are injected or in pill form to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy drugs are distributed throughout the patient’s body to kill cancer cells that have spread to other parts of the body.
Chemotherapy, commonly referred to as “chemo”, is used for two purposes to treat mesothelioma:
Controls tumor growth: Chemotherapy drugs destroy cancer cells that create tumors. Therapy can shrink tumors and prevent or limit the growth of new tumors. This is how chemotherapy supports mesothelioma patients to live longer.
Reduction of symptoms: Chemotherapy also reduces the symptoms of mesothelioma such as chest pain and pain when breathing by shrinking the tumor that rubs against the lungs and chest wall.
Although chemotherapy cannot cure mesothelioma, it can relieve symptoms, improve quality of life, and prolong survival. In conjunction with surgery, radiation therapy or emerging therapies such as: immunotherapy, doctors may also use chemo.
Chemotherapy can be tailored to the patient’s specific needs by a cancer specialist. Mesothelioma treatment is the most common type of treatment because it requires many drugs, the number of doses, and the way of administration.
It uses high-powered X-rays to kill cancer cells. During radiation therapy, the patient is positioned on a table and the machine moves around the patient, being moved to where the cancer cells move.
For individuals with mesothelioma, radiation therapy is used to prolong recovery and reduce pain.
To damage the DNA of cancer cells and kill them, ionizing radiation is used, namely X-rays or high-energy particles. This leads to shrinkage of the tumor and the prevention and spread of cancer recurrence.
Radiation treatment during administration is painless. When a radiologist administers this mesothelioma treatment, there is no need to think about the pain. Some people may experience skin irritation after treatment around the area where radiation has been given.
For a number of benefits, radiologists prescribe this treatment for patients in different stages of mesothelioma.
When to the doctor?
If you have risk factors, one of which is exposure to asbestos, and you experience respiratory problems and a cough that lasts for a long time, consult a doctor immediately.
To perform an examination, you can immediately make an appointment with the doctor of your choice at the hospital according to your domicile here.
Mesothelioma Treatment Cost in US
The cost of mesothelioma treatment in America is around $5000 to $0 USD in a good hospital in US. At least 7-10 days in the hospital are required in this procedure. However, the cost is highly dependent on the stage of the disease, the extent of tumor spread and the hospital chosen.