Mesothelioma afflicts the abdomen and chest. It usually results from asbestos exposure. In fact, over 90% of all cases result from this cause. This statistic scares to many people because of asbestos’ presence in the insulation of so many buildings. Malignant cells appear in a protective lining covering the body’s internal organs known as the mesothelium. Mesothelioma can be divided into three known forms: pleural, peritoneal, and pericardial. Contrary to what most people believe, there is no known cause and effect relationship between smoking and mesothelioma. Unfortunately, however, the lifetime risk of mesothelioma for those subjected to heavy asbestos exposure is thought to be as high as one in ten
- Mesothelioma symptoms might not show up until several decades after exposure. These symptoms include chest pain, shortness of breath, and swelling of the abdomen. Other symptoms that are specific to peritoneal mesothelioma may include fever, weight loss, anemia, bowel obstruction, and blood clotting abnormalities.
- If the cancer metastasized, the patient may experience various symptoms including difficulty in swallowing and swelling of the face and neck.
- Pleural mesothelioma has its own pathology-specific symptoms including hoarseness, coughing and wheezing, tumors, and lung collapse.
Of course, the foregoing symptoms are common to many different conditions, so there is no need to panic if you have them. Simply see your doctor and have a biopsy done. Mesothelioma progresses 4 distinct stages. Stage 1:
The cancer is localized and the malignant mass can be surgically removed. Stage 2:
The cancer has metastasized beyond the lining of the chest cavity. Stage 3:
Metastis to the chest wall, the heart, and the diaphragm. Stage 4:
Mesothelioma spreads throughout the body.
Stages 2,3, and 4 are almost always terminal. In these cases treatment focuses on pain reduction. Hospice care is strongly recommended for patients in these advanced stages, because hospice care is focused on pain reduction rather than life extension, two goals which are frequently in opposition to each other.
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Mesothelioma offers readers complete information about pleural mesothelioma, abdominal mesothelioma, and lung cancer.