Mesothelioma Symptoms | Mesothelioma Treatment | Mesothelioma Cancer and Asbestosis
Mesothelioma is a cancer of the membrane that aligns its organ in the body part called the mesothelium. It is a rare and aggressive cancer and also commonly themed a terminal cancer disease of the mesothelium. Mesothelioma is found in various places in the body; namely the chest, also the abdomen or the Tommy.
It affect mostly the smooth lining of the chest called the pleura, that is to say that majority of the cases we see today as doctors are mainly pleural mesothelioma, which is the cancer of the lining of the lung.
Usually this tumor is very quit silent and very difficult to pick up in the early stage because it grows silently in the chest cavity.
When patients become unwell and they seek medical impact, it is usually because they are feeling shortness of breath, they are unable to do things with as much capacity as they could before; going up the hills, walking up the stairs, or even just resting and talking to people because of breathleness.
Other symptoms that patients can have other than breathleness is weight loss without trying to diet, this is a general indicative underlining problem such as cancer, when detected, it should be further investigated.
Causes of Mesothelioma Asbestosis
The only known cause of mesothelioma is from asbestos exposure. This is generally seen in patients that have been exposed to asbestos. Mainly 8 to 9 out of every 10 with a diagnoses from mesothelioma reports that they have worked either in the industry that have asbestos associated with it or have known to be exposed to asbestos in the past.
Smoking by itself does not cause mesothelioma, but patients that have known to have been exposed to asbestos should not smoke. They should give up smoking because if they do, that massively increases the risk of lung cancer because the air ways becomes more damaged because of smoke.
Often they can be long lag period between asbestos exposure and the cancer forming. The average lag period that we have seen is anywhere between 50 to 60 years with most patients having a lag period of around 40 years or so.
So patients who have cared for person/persons with mesothelioma (who have been exposed to asbestos) and developing mesothelioma, the person might still be on an increased risk of contacting the Asbestosis cancerous disease. This is generally the typical settings of the wife of the man that works in construction industry, who have potentially brought his overall, or work shoes or cap home to be cleaned, and asbestos fibres from such materials can then spread in the home or environment.
One thing to emphasis here is that mesothelioma does not seem to be hereditary, you cannot inherit it from your parents neither is it infectious. You cannot catch mesothelioma from another patient that has the cancer.
There are numbers of test that we doctors carry out to make a diagnosis of mesothelioma. Usually GP rules during examination is to listen to the chest to see if there is a fluid present or not and then arrange for chest x-ray to be performed.
The mainstay of treatment of mesothelioma Is generally with Chemotherapy and the aim of these is to do very much to improve the quality of life of our patients, and there is a good evidence that this could potentially in some patients shock the cancer and also keep the cancer under control for longer than it could do otherwise, and sometimes that can improve the length of life.
Chemotherapy is of three types which are;
- Thoracentesis: The clinical removal of pleural fluid using long needle
- Video-Assisted Theracoscopy surgery (VATS): It involves inserting talcum powder that will circulate the liner to help remove space for the fluid
- Extra-Pleural Pneumonectony (EPP): This is the total removal of the diseased lungs clinically i.e. part of the pericardium (membrane that is covering the heart cavity).
Other Mesothelioma treatments that can be considered include radiotherapy. This can be used in some specific cases either to prevent the cancer from growing or to target some specific areas that are causing pains or discomfort.
We are expecting more cases of mesothelioma in the next few years because of the manifest of asbestos exposure and the disease becoming clinically manifest.
If patients known that they have been exposed to asbestos, instead of just having a GP, it is advices that they just have a general assessment to make sure that they are ok.