Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that is usually caused due to exposure to asbestos. In mesothelioma, the malignant cells start developing in the mesothelium, the layer that acts as a protective layer on almost all the internal organs. It is commonly found on the lining of the chest wall and lungs (pleura), but it can also be found in the abdominal cavity lining (peritoneum), the heart, pericardium, and tunica vaginalis.
It is a common case among people who would have worked in places where they would have inhaled the particles of asbestos. It is also found that there is an increased risk of getting mesothelioma if one washes the clothes of a person who works in a place where there is a high concentration of asbestos. There has been no relation established between smoking and mesothelioma, although smoking leads to lung cancer.
Some of the symptoms of mesothelioma include running short of breath resulting from pleural effusion, paining of chest wall, and other general symptoms like loss of weight. The patient can be diagnosed with the help of X-ray of the chest and CT scan. Mesothelioma can be confirmed by conducting microscopic examination and biopsy. A thoracoscopy can be done in order to take biopsies. Thoracoscopy allows the doctor to introduce substances like talc to destroy the excess fluid that is putting pressure on the lungs. Even after strong treatments like chemotherapy, surgery and radiation therapy the prognosis of mesothelioma is poor. There is research still ongoing to detect and prevent mesothelioma in the initial stages.
Typically, the symptoms of mesothelioma occur after twenty to fifty years of asbestos exposure. Some of the symptoms of mesothelioma are cough, shortness of breath, and chest pain due to fluid accumulation around the lungs. Other symptoms of mesothelioma include cachexia and loss of weight, swelling of the abdomen and abdominal pain, bowel obstruction, abnormalities in blood clotting, fever and anemia. If the cancer has spread to other parts of the body then there may be additional symptoms like swelling of throat and face, pain and difficulty in swallowing. In particular, if the pleura are affected by mesothelioma then the following symptoms and signs will occur:
–Pain in the chest wall
–The fluid surrounding the lungs will be excess, pleural effusion
–One may feel short of breath even if not doing any activity
–One id diagnosed with anemia and is experiencing fatigue
–The person is wheezing, sounds hoarse, or coughs continuously
–The person coughs out blood, a condition called hemoptysis
In cases where mesothelioma becomes very severe, the person may develop several tumor masses. The affected person may also develop pneumothorax, a condition when the lungs collapse. There are chances that mesothelioma may spread to other organs of the body. The tumor that develops in the abdominal cavity does not show any symptoms until it has reached the last stages. Some of the symptoms of mesothelioma that affect the abdominal cavity are:
–Pain in the abdomen.
–Atypical collection of fluid in the abdomen.
–Swelling of the abdomen.
–Trouble in the functioning of bowel
–Abnormal loss of weight