Mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer, but Mesothelioma is responsible for 3000 deaths in the US annually. Here we provide a complete and easy guide on causes, diagnosis, and treatments of it for you.
What is mesothelioma?
It is an aggressive and a rare disease that allows cancer to develop in the lining of the lungs or the abdomen. The disease is commonly caused by prolonged exposure to asbestos and currently has no known cure.
When an individual is diagnosed with mesothelioma, the prognosis is often very poor. This is caused by the fact that there is no available cure for this disease and it usually discovered at the late stage of development.
However, when mesothelioma is discovered at an early stage, the prognosis for the patient is better. Asbestos is not the only risk factor affecting the prognosis of this disease; location, the cell type of tumor, and the overall health of patients. The disease is commonly categorized by the location of the tumor within the body. The tumor can form in the lining of certain body parts or organs, known as the mesothelium. It usually develops in one particular area out of three.
The relation between mesothelioma and asbestos
There are 3000 cases of mesothelioma that is caused by asbestos each year in the US. 70-80% of people who develop this disease has an asbestos-related job (asbestos removal project). Most of them develop the pleural type, but tumor can also develop within the pericardium or peritoneum.
Although the use of asbestos as a building material has been banned in many countries, a high number of people are still developing it. This is because tumor can grow from 20 to 50 years since asbestos exposure before the symptoms start to appear. It is usually developed after fibres exposure at the workplace, such as shipyards, industrial area, old houses, school, and public buildings.
Even though generally the disease developed by a long-term exposure, a short time exposure can also cause this cancer. Asbestos can cause the disease when work activities disturb or damage the asbestos condition and increase the release of fibres into the air. When we inhale the fibres, our body is struggling to eliminate them for the circulation. Over time, the fibres trigger inflammation and scarring genetic damage that can eventually develop into cancer. The gap between exposures and the development of the disease is called the latency period.
What are the symptoms of mesothelioma?
The symptoms of mesothelioma are not specific and typically look like other diseases. This makes it difficult to diagnose mesotheliomas. The symptoms are mild, and many people don’t experience them until the later stage of cancer. However, if these symptoms happen to you, you may be diagnosed with mesothelioma and take precautions:
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Fluid buildup in abdomen and lungs
- Loss of weight
How is it diagnosed?
Doctors can use several methods to diagnose mesotheliomas such as biopsies and imaging scans. Most people will usually get tested with a basic x-ray to check for abnormalities.
If an abnormal growth is present, doctors will recommend undergoing a detailed imaging such as a PET scan, MRI, or CT scan. If they suspect tumor in your organs, they will recommend you to do a biopsy by taking a sample of tissue. Doctors use a biopsy to confirm the presence of mesothelium cells.
What are available treatments for mesothelioma?
As there is no known cure for it, treatment options are usually including chemotherapy. Radiation therapy, and surgery. Many physicians prefer to do a combination treatment or known as multimodal therapy. Clinical trials show that multimodal therapy improves the survival rate of patients.
Palliative treatments that can ease symptoms are often used for treatment in all stages of cancer. Experimental treatments such as immunotherapy also often used as it is showing progress in the future. Many survivors often recommend a less-traditional treatment for helping them to have a better quality of life.
Now you already know why asbestos is so dangerous.