Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that affects the mesothelium, a membranous lining that surrounds the internal organs. The mesothelium that encloses the lungs is called the pleura; so pleural mesothelioma is the term used to refer to this cancer when it affects the lining of the lungs. The pleura is actually the most common location for this cancer to take hold. This is because the contaminants that cause the disease (usually asbestos fibers) enter the body through the airway and lodge in the lungs. However, it is important to note that pleural mesothelioma is not lung cancer.
Painful breathing, shortness of breath, constant, painful coughing, and chest pain are all common symptoms of the disease. Unexplained weight loss, fever, trouble swallowing, lower back pain, and a hoarse voice are additional issues that may occur with this cancer. Malignant mesothelioma can be present in the body for many decades before causing symptoms. When health problems do start to become evident, they may be mistaken for other illnesses. These are two reasons that this cancer is usually far advanced before it is detected.
Since mesothelioma is most often caused by asbestos, a patient's history of exposure will be reviewed early on to determine the likelihood that the symptoms are being caused by this form of cancer. After a physical examination, several tests may be done to find out if mesothelioma is present. Chest X-rays, a CAT scan, and a PET scan are a few examples. An MRI and/or a pulmonary angiography are sometimes used for further confirmation of a diagnosis.
If abnormal results are detected that might indicate mesothelioma, a biopsy will need to be performed. This may be done using a fluid sample from the pleural lining or with a sample of the pleura itself. The larger the sample taken, the more accurate the results of the biopsy tend to be. Gene pattern analysis and other advanced tests may be performed on the tissue sample to determine exactly what type of cancer is present.
The recommended approach for treating mesothelioma depends on how far the cancer has spread and the patient's overall health. Radiation, chemotherapy, and surgery may be the best option for some situations. A few individuals are even candidates for lung transplantation. In other cases, treatment focuses on relieving symptoms such as pleural effusion (fluid buildup around the lungs). There are many clinical trials underway to find more effective treatments for each stage of mesothelioma. These include advanced options such as immunotherapy and gene therapy.
Many patients who are diagnosed with this cancer file a lawsuit with the assistance of a personal injury lawyer. The goal is to obtain mesothelioma compensation that will cover medical bills and compensate the victim for the pain and suffering caused by the disease. Family members may also choose to file a wrongful death suit following the death of an ill loved one who has died from mesothelioma. Because this disease is commonly diagnosed in elderly patients after the cancer has started spreading, the long-term survival rates are generally very poor.
Consult with a medical expert to learn more about malignant mesothelioma, including pleural mesothelioma and its symptoms.