Mesothelioma cancer is a rare and deadly form of cancer; which occurs in the internal layers of the tissue known as the mesothelium.
This type of cancer occurs mostly; when the body is exposed to asbestos and it can take up to 50 years to develop; but symptoms may appear early.
Most often; it affects the tissue that surrounds the lungs called the pleura. The heart and the chest are also affected.
So, when your body is being exposed to some kind of asbestos; the thin; inner lining of the tissue got damage. Mesothelioma is different from other forms of cancer; as it affects the rare tissues in the body. The sooner you find it out the easier would be the treatment.
TYPES OF MESOTHELIOMA CANCER
- Pleural mesothelioma: This affect the inner lining of the lungs called the pleural.
It is the most common form of the mesothelioma cancer; where people inhaled the asbestos and the fibre got stuck in the lining of the lungs; leading to pleural mesothelioma.
Asbestos inhalation and exposure is the main factor of the disease.
- Peritoneal mesothelioma: If the cancer is found in the lining of the abdomen; then it is called peritoneal mesothelioma.
The cause of this cancer is the same as pleural; through the inhalation of asbestos; where it gets into the abdomen too.
- Pericardial mesothelioma: When the cancer is found in the inner lining of the heart, it is called pericardial mesothelioma.
It originates in the pericardium of the heart; the protective membrane found in the lining of the heart.
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WHAT IS MESOTHELIOMA SYMPTOMS?
The symptoms of mesothelioma cancer depend on its type. All the three forms of mesothelioma have different symptoms; even though some may be similar!
Symptoms of Pleural mesothelioma:
This affects the lungs and the symptoms are:
- Persistent chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Pain while coughing
- Weight loss
Symptoms of Peritoneal:
Symptoms of Pericardial:
- Chest pain
- Difficulty in breathing
- Weight loss
- Irregular heartbeat
CAUSES of MESOTHELIOMA CANCER
The main caused of mesothelioma is the inhalation of asbestos; which is present in the environment or at a workplace.
Asbestos enters the body through breathing and it gets stuck in the inner lining of the lungs; the heart and the abdomen.
It corrodes the inner tissue of all the three organs in the body; leading to inflammation and development of cancer take place.
Asbestos is largely found in factories and industries and if you are working in some factories and industries; then there are chances that you might develop the disease.
Precautions should be taken to prevent the inhalation of asbestos in your workplace.
Study have shown; that talcum powder is also associated with asbestos which contributes to the cause of cancer.
The risk factor number 1; is exposure to asbestos; which is found naturally in the environment at a low concentration, but a high concentration of asbestos; is mostly found in the factories and industries.
Low level of asbestos-caused no harm to the body but constant exposure to asbestos on a daily basis creates a major health issue.
Mining is another risk factor that leads to asbestos exposure. Many mines have a high concentration of asbestos in them.
Other factors such as living with someone who works with asbestos may increase the risk of developing cancer. Genetic history of a person is also; a risk factor at increases the chance of cancer.
if someone in your family had cancer before; then it is likely that you may have it too; because the cancer genes are being passed from one generation to the next.
STAGES OF MESOTHELIOMA
This cancer has mainly four stages.
It is very difficult to diagnose at this stage.
A tumour is localized only in one particular region; there is no involvement from lymph nodes and the cancer is localized to its point of origin.
Major surgery to remove a tumour is the first step to treatment.
At this stage; the cancer is still confined to the same point of origin as it is in stage 1.
There are times when there could be regional lymph nodes affected, but there are numbers of different options related to treatment at this point.
Surgery may be used and can still be done to remove the affected areas.
Doctors and patients use to confused this stage because it has symptoms similar to that of the flu.
This is when cancer has spread beyond its original point and to other lymph nodes as well.
At this point, the cancer is diagnostic and patients develop chest pain while breathing and even while resting too.
It is still possible for surgery to be carried out at this point; although less likely.
At this stage; cancer has spread beyond the point of origin and it spread to lymph nodes and other organs as well are affected by cancer.
Organ failure is a strong possibility at this stage and healing is hard. This is known as the terminal stage. When cancer has reached this stage there are no other treatment options.
Seeing a specialist is urgent at this stage. This is the final stage of cancer and a person’s life expectancy is very near.
TREATMENTS of MESOTHELIOMA CANCER
Surgery is one of the most widely used treatments in removing the cancer tumour.
There is various type of surgeries to remove cancer. They are; pleurodesis, wide local excision, pleurectomy an extrapleural pneumonectomy.
PLEURODESIS: It is a procedure used to cover up the excess fluids; in the lungs which lead to chest pain and scarring.
WIDE LOCAL EXCISION: It is a surgical procedure used to remove a small portion of the disease; from the tissue and margin it with that of normal tissue.
PLEURECTOMY: Here, a part of the pleural is removed; to prevent the collection of fluids in the healthy area.
EXTRAPLEURAL PNEUMONECTOMY: This is a surgery done to remove the disease from the lung; to stop the further invasion of cancer to healthy tissue.
These options are good for stage I and II because it increases the life expectancy of a patient.
This therapy uses high energy radiation that kills the cancer cells and stops it from growing.
Radiation therapy depends on the type and stages of cancer.
There are two types of radiation therapy. Internal and External radiation therapy.
In chemotherapy, drugs are used to either kill or stop the cancer cells from dividing.
The drugs enter the bloodstream and reach the cancer cells. This stops the cells from growing.
There are more than 50 types of chemotherapy and it is used for various purposes depending on the type of cancer.
This treatment is a combination of aggressive surgical treatments; combined with chemotherapy and radiation to increase the life of patients and to largely reduce cancer cell growth.
Clinical trials offer patients access to emerging treatments such as immunotherapy treatments; gene therapy and photodynamic therapy.
Follow safety regulations
Follow all safety precautions at your workplace; such as wearing protective equipment; to protect yourself from the harmful fibre caused by asbestos.
You may also be required to shower and change out of your work clothes; before taking a lunch break or going home.
Talk to your doctor about other precautions you can take to protect yourself from asbestos exposure.
Mines safety, should also be administered; to prevent and protect mine workers, while working in mines.
Prevention of asbestos in your home
Sometimes, older homes and buildings may contain asbestos. However; it is more dangerous to remove the asbestos than to leave it intact.
Removing the asbestos may cause fibres to become airborne; where they can be inhaled. Consult experts trained to detect asbestos in your home.
These experts may test the air in your home and determine whether the asbestos is a risk to your health. Don’t attempt to remove asbestos from your home — hire a qualified expert.
Call for the Environmental Protection Agency that is dealing with asbestos to look into your home.
HOW TO CARE FOR THOSE WHO SUFFER
Caring for a loved one with mesothelioma can be overwhelming but it doesn’t have to be so.
Experts say the first step is to take care of your own mental health and understand the disease itself. Managing your time with the patient is very important.
The patient needs more love and care. All the family members should contribute to the welfare of the patient. Here are a few things to keep in mind while taking care of mesothelioma patients.
- Provide emotional support by being there for them will help them cultivate healthy habits.
- Companionship during the whole process can help the patient to recover fast.
- Allow the patient to join a support group, so that they do not feel alone while battling the disease.
- Help them make the right decision while taking any kind of treatment.
Mesothelioma is a rare but rapidly fatal and aggressive tumour of the pleura and peritoneal tissue and with limited knowledge and natural history; little is known about this cancer.
However; the cases and incidence have increased in the past two decades but it is still a rare tumour.