Mesothelioma – What it is, Causes, Symptoms and Treatments that many are unaware of. Also, Mesothelioma (me-zoe-thee-lee-O-muh) is a type of cancer that occurs in the thin layer of tissue that covers most of your internal organs (mesothelium). Mesothelioma is an aggressive and deadly form of cancer. Mesothelioma treatments are available, but for many people with Mesothelioma , a cure is not possible. Doctors divide Mesothelioma into different types based on which part of the mesothelioma is affected. Mesothelioma usually affects the tissue that surrounds the lungs (pleura).
This type is called Pleural Mesothelioma . Other, rarer types of Mesothelioma affect tissue in the abdomen ( Peritoneal Mesothelioma ), around the heart, and around the testicles. Mesothelioma does not include a form of noncancerous (benign) tumor that occurs in the chest and is sometimes called benign mesothelioma or solitary fibrous tumor.
Causes of Mesothelioma: In general, cancer starts when a series of genetic mutations occur within a cell, causing the cell to grow and multiply out of control. It’s unclear what causes the initial genetic mutations that lead to Mesothelioma , although researchers have identified factors that could increase the risk. Cancers are likely to form due to an interaction between many factors, such as inherited conditions, your environment, your health conditions, and your lifestyle choices.
Mesothelioma Symptoms: Signs and symptoms of Mesothelioma vary depending on where the cancer occurs. Pleural mesothelioma, which affects the tissue surrounding thelungs , causes signs and symptoms that can include:
News of the week:
- Chest pain under the rib cage
- painful cough
- Shortness of breathe
- Unusual pieces of tissue under the skin on your chest
- unexplained weight loss
Peritoneal Mesothelioma , which occurs in tissue in the abdomen , causes signs and symptoms that may include:
- Abdominal pain
- abdominal swelling
- Tissue loin in the abdomen
- unexplained weight loss
Other Forms of Mesothelioma: The signs and symptoms of other types of Mesothelioma are unclear as these forms of the disease are very rare. Pericardial Mesothelioma , which affects the tissue surrounding the heart, can cause signs and symptoms such as difficulty breathing and chest pain. Tunica vaginalis mesothelioma , which affects thetissue surrounding the testicles, may first be detected as a swelling or mass in a testicle.
When to See a Doctor: See your doctor if you have signs and symptoms that could indicate Mesothelioma . Mesothelioma signs and symptomsare not specific to this disease and because of the rarity of Mesothelioma , they are more likely to be related to other conditions. If any persistent signs and symptoms seem unusual or bothersome, ask your doctor to evaluate them. Tell your doctor if you have been exposed to asbestos.
Mesothelioma Risk Factors: Asbestos Exposure: The Major Risk Factor for Mesothelioma . Asbestos is a mineral that is found naturally in the environment. Asbestos fibers are strong and heat resistant, making them useful in a wide variety of applications such as insulation, curbs, tiles, flooring and many other products.
When asbestos is broken down, such as during the mining process or when removing asbestos insulation, dust can be created. If the dust is inhaled or swallowed, asbestos fibers settle in the lungs or stomach, where they can cause irritation that can lead to Mesothelioma . Exactly how this happens is not understood. It can take 20 to 40 years or more for Mesothelioma to develop after exposure to asbestos.
Most people with years of asbestos exposure never develop Mesothelioma . And yet others with very brief exposure develop the disease. This indicates that other factors may be involved in determining whether someone gets Mesothelioma or not. For example, you could inherit a predisposition to cancer or some other condition could increase your risk. Other Factors that can increase the risk of Mesothelioma include:
- Personal history of asbestos exposure. If you have been directly exposed to asbestos fibers at work or at home, your risk of Mesothelioma is greatly increased.
- Living with someone who works with asbestos. People who are exposed to asbestos can take the fibers home on their skin and clothing. Exposure to these stray fibers over many years can put others in the home at risk for Mesothelioma . People who work with high levels of asbestos can reduce the risk of bringing asbestos fibers with them when showering and changing clothes before leaving work.
- A Family History of Mesothelioma . If your parent, sibling, or child has Mesothelioma , you may be at an increased risk of this disease.
Complications of Mesothelioma: As Pleural Mesothelioma spreads in the chest, it puts pressure on the structures in that area. This can cause complications such as:
- Difficulty breathing
- Chest pain
- Difficulty swallowing
- Pain caused by pressure on nerves and spinal cord
- Accumulation of fluid in the chest (pleural effusion), which can compress the nearby lung and make breathing difficult
Mesothelioma Tests and Diagnosis: If you have signs and symptoms that could indicate Mesothelioma , your doctor will perform a physical exam to check for lumps or other unusual signs. Your doctor may order imaging tests, such as a chest X-ray and a computed tomography (CT) scan of your chest or abdomen , to look for abnormalities. Based on the findings, you may undergo further tests to determine whether mesothelioma or another disease is causing your signs and symptoms.
Biopsy: Biopsy, a procedure to remove a small portion of tissue for laboratory testing, is the only way to determine if you have Mesothelioma . Depending on which area of your body is affected, your doctor will select the biopsy procedure that is right for you. Options include:
- Fine needle aspiration: The doctor removes the fluid or a piece of tissue with a small needle inserted into the chest or abdomen.
- Thoracoscopy: Thoracoscopy allows the surgeon to see inside your chest. In this procedure, the surgeon makes one or more small incisions between your ribs. A tube with a small video camera is then inserted into your chest cavity – a procedure sometimes called video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS). Special surgical tools allow your surgeon to cut small pieces of tissue for testing.
- Laparoscopy: Laparoscopy allows the surgeon to see inside the abdomen . Using one or more small incisions in your abdomen, the surgeon inserts a small camera and special surgical tools to obtain a small piece of tissue for examination.
- Thoracotomy: A thoracotomy is surgery to open the chest between the ribs to allow a surgeon to check for signs of disease. A tissue sample can be removed for testing.
- Laparotomy: Laparotomy is surgery to open up the abdomen to allow a surgeon to check for signs of disease. A tissue sample can be removed for testing.
The tissue sample is analyzed under a microscope to see if the abnormal tissue is Mesothelioma and what types of cells are involved. The type of Mesothelioma you have determines your treatment plan.
Staging: Once Mesothelioma is diagnosed, your doctor orders other tests to determine the extent or stage of the cancer. Imaging tests that can help determine the stage of the cancer may include:
- Computed tomography of the chest and abdomen
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- Positron Emission Tomography (PET)
Your doctor determines which tests are most appropriate for you. Not all people need all tests. Once the extent of Pleural Mesothelioma is determined, a stage is assigned.
- Stage I Mesothelioma is considered localized cancer, meaning it is limited to a portion of the lining of the chest.
- Stage II Mesothelioma can spread beyond the chest lining to the diaphragm or to a lung .
- Stage III Mesothelioma can spread to other structures within the chest and may involve nearby lymph nodes .
- Stage IV Mesothelioma is an advanced cancer that has spread most widely in the chest . Stage IV can also indicate that Mesothelioma has spread to distant areas of the body, such as the brain, liver, and lymph nodes elsewhere in the chest.
Formal stages are not available for other types of Mesothelioma because these types are rare and not well studied.
Mesothelioma Treatments: Mesothelioma treatments dependon your health and certain aspects of your cancer, such as its stage and location. Unfortunately, Mesothelioma is often an aggressive disease, and for most people, a cure is not possible. Mesothelioma is usually diagnosed at an advanced stage – when thecancer cannot be removed through an operation. Instead, your doctor can work to control your cancer to make you more comfortable.
Discuss treatment goals with your doctor. Some people want to do everything they can to treat their cancer, even if it means lasting side effects for a small chance of an improvement. Others prefer treatments that make them comfortable so they can live the remaining time as symptom-free as possible.
Surgery: Surgeons work to remove Mesothelioma when it is diagnosed at an early stage. In some cases, this can cure cancer. Sometimes it is not possible to remove all the cancer. In such cases, surgery can help reduce the signs and symptoms caused by Mesothelioma spreading in your body. Surgical options may include:
- Surgery to decrease fluid buildup. Pleural Mesothelioma can cause fluid to build up in the chest, causing difficulty breathing. Surgeons insert a tube or catheter into your chest to drain the fluid. Doctors may also take medicine for your chest to prevent fluid from backing up (pleuro dese). Surgery to remove tissue around the lungs or abdomen. Surgeons may remove tissue that lines the ribs and lungs (pleurectomy) or tissue that lines the abdominal cavity (peritonectomy). This procedure will not cure Mesothelioma , but it can relieve signs and symptoms.
- Surgery to remove as much of the cancer as possible (debulking). If all of the cancer cannot be removed, surgeons may try to remove as much as possible. Debulking allows doctors to more precisely target radiation treatments to relieve pain and fluid buildup caused by Mesothelioma .
- Surgery to remove a lung and surrounding tissue. Removing the affected lung and surrounding tissue can alleviate signs and symptoms of pleural mesothelioma . If you will receive radiation therapy to your chest after surgery, this procedure also allows doctors to use higher doses as they do not have to worry about protecting your lung from harmful radiation.
Quimioterapia: A quimioterapia usa produtos químicos para matar células cancerígenas. Quimioterapia sistêmica viaja em todo o corpo e pode encolher ou diminuir o crescimento de um Mesotelioma que não pode ser removido usando cirurgia. A quimioterapia também pode ser usada antes da cirurgia (quimioterapia neo adjuvante) para facilitar a operação ou após a cirurgia (quimioterapia adjuvante) para reduzir a chance de o câncer retornar.
Chemotherapy drugs can also be warmed up and given directly into the abdominal cavity (intraperitoneal chemotherapy) in the case of peritoneal mesothelioma . Using this strategy, chemotherapy drugs can reach Mesothelioma directly without harming healthy cells elsewhere in the body. This allows doctors to administer higher doses of chemotherapy drugs.
Radiation Therapy: Radiation therapy focuses high-energy beams from sources like X-rays and protons to a specific spot or spots on your body. Radiation can be used after surgery to kill any remaining cancer cells. It can also help reduce signs and symptoms of advanced cancer in situations where surgery is not an option.
Clinical Trials: Clinical trials are studies of new methods of treating Mesothelioma . People with Mesothelioma may opt for a clinical trial for a chance to try out new types of treatment. However, a cure is not guaranteed. Carefully consider your treatment options and speak with your doctor about what clinical trials are open to you.
Your participation in a clinical trial can help doctors better understand how to treat Mesothelioma in the future. Clinical trials are currently investigating a number of novel approaches to the treatment of Mesothelioma , including:
- Targeted therapy, which involves the use of drugs that target specific abnormalities within cancer cells.
- Biological therapy, which uses your body’s immune system to fight cancer.
- Gene therapy, which involves altering genes within cancer cells in order to stop the disease.
Treatment for Other Types of Mesothelioma: Pericardial Mesothelioma and Tunica vaginalis Mesothelioma are very rare . Early stage cancer can be removed through surgery. Doctors have not yet determined the best way to treat later-stage cancers. Your doctor may recommend other treatments to improve your quality of life.
Alternative Medicine: No alternative medicine treatment has been shown to be helpful in treating Mesothelioma . But complementary and alternative treatments can help manage the signs and symptoms of Mesothelioma . Discuss options with your doctor. Mesothelioma can cause pressure inside your chest that can make you feel like you’re always out of breath.
Your doctor may recommend using supplemental oxygen or taking medication to make you more comfortable, but often this is not enough. Combining the treatments your doctor recommends with complementary and alternative approaches can help you feel better. Alternative treatments that have shown some promise in helping people deal with shortness of breath include:
- Acupuncture. Acupuncture uses fine needles inserted into precise points on your skin.
- Breathing Training. A nurse or physical therapist can teach you breathing techniques to use when you feel out of breath. Sometimes you may feel out of breath and start to panic. Using these techniques can help you feel more in control of your breathing.
- Relaxation Exercises. Slower, more relaxing muscle groups can help you feel more comfortable and breathe easier. Your doctor may refer you to a therapist who can teach you relaxation exercises so you can do them on your own.
- Use a Fan. Directing a fan at your face can help relieve the feeling of shortness of breath .