About the disease
Mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer, which develops in the tissue that covers lungs and in rare cases in the abdomen. There are two main types of this cancer: pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma, depending on its location. Mesothelioma grows in mesothelial cells, which make the surface for lungs and abdomen. 75% of mesothelioma cases develop in the lungs.
Mesothelioma is more common in men. According to Cancer Research UK, approximately 2,600 people diagnosed with this type of cancer annually in Britain. Most often mesothelioma is caused by the exposure to the substance, known as asbestos. Asbestos is practically an insulating material, which has been mainly used for building houses, as it is heat resistant. Right now this material is not used as commonly as it had been before, but there are still many people who come in contact with it, working in construction and building industries. Other cause of mesothelioma is simian virus, also known as SV 40. Radiation exposure and long-term smoking can also contribute to development of mesothelioma. It can be latent for several years before causing first symptoms to appear.
- Pain in the chest
- Weight loss
- Pain in the abdomen
- Excessive sweating
- Hoarse voice
- Long-term cough
- X-Ray of the lungs can show if there are changes in their anatomic structure.
- MRI and CT scan are ordered to examine the mesothelium layer and see if it is damaged. These scans can also determine if there is excessive fluid in the lungs or abdomen, common for this type of cancer.
- Biopsy is used to examine mesothelium cells under the microscope for the signs of malignancy.
- Chemotherapy administers high-dose agents to kill and scatter malignant cells. Patients diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma are administered with chemotherapy into the vein, while patient with peritoneal mesothelioma are advised to receive cytotoxic drugs directly into abdomen.
- Pleurectomy is a surgery during which a doctor resects pleura, which contains the tumor. Depending on the stage of mesothelioma you may be advised to undergo total or partial pleurectomy.
- Radiation therapy is used in order to destroy remaining part of the tumor, but it is used rarely for this type of cancer. It can be performed in combination with chemotherapy before or after the surgery.