What Is Mesothelioma Cancer? Signs & Symptoms

what is mesothelioma cancer

What Is Mesothelioma Cancer?

Signs, Symptoms, And Treatments

Many people have heard of mesothelioma cancer, most likely through advertisements of legal firms on television wishing to represent unfortunate victims this disease, but this condition is not always well-understood.

This asbestos-related cancer forms on body tissue in the lungs and abdomen creating many painful and potentially serious health problems.

Although there are treatment options available, this serious disease is challenging for patients and families

This article is designed to show all available treatment options, the signs to look for and exactly what can be done to manage this condition.

To learn more, please read on.

 

asbestos exposure

Mesothelioma Through Asbestos Exposure

Deadly Buildings

Each year there are approximately 3,000 cases of mesothelioma diagnosed in the United States. The majority of these cases can be traced to people’s exposure to asbestos.

The cancer is diagnosed when it can be detected on the lining of the lungs, abdomen, or heart.

Although asbestos use in buildings has dropped significantly, there are still many people developing this cancer. The reason is that it can take anywhere from 20-50 years after exposure for symptoms appear.

Many older buildings may be demolished and people in associated industries may find themselves in danger from asbestos exposure in these possibly dangerous establishments.

What Does This Mean?

Mesothelioma is predominantly contracted through exposure to asbestos.

 

 

Mesothelioma Signs & Symptoms
Mesothelioma Signs & Symptoms

What To Look For

Like many potentially fatal illnesses, catching mesothelioma early is the number one key to better outcomes.  Knowing what signs to look for can help to motivate someone into seeking professional help in a timely manner.

Symptoms of this cancer are varied but usually include:

Upper Respiratory Issues

This can include both chest pain and difficulty breathing. (1)

In the case of asbestos related mesothelioma, breathing in the contaminated particles was likely the initial issue, so it’s easy to see how this would create problems in the lungs.

Abdominal Irritations

When the cancer appears in the abdomen, an individual may also experience some abdominal pain and discomfort.

Heart Complications

In rarer cases, this insidious illness can affect the heart and cause cardiovascular issues.  Heart complications can manifest symptoms such as possible chest pain and tightness.

What’s The Bottom Line Here?

It’s most likely that the illness will manifest in the lungs, but it can also affect the abdomen.

 

 

Mesothelioma Diagnoisis Procedures

Mesothelioma Diagnosis Procedures

How Do They Test For It?

The diagnosis of mesothelioma is not the same for every person but may begin a variety of tests which are performed to efficiently discover and diagnose the possibility of an illness.

Tests done to diagnose mesothelioma may include:

X-rays

CT scans

Biopsies

MRIs

X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs can help detect internal tumors and abnormalities, where biopsies can be taken to perform biological testing similar to the way skin cancer can be detected. (2)

Sometimes, it takes two or three months to positively identify this cancer. Early diagnosis (like many ailments) is the key to having the most treatment options available.

What Can We Take Away From This?

There are many ways to test for this disease, but it can take some time to establish development.

 

 

Types of Mesothelioma - human body

Types of Mesothelioma

What Are They?

There are actually four different types of this cancer which may affect patients in a variety of ways. Although most people who know mesothelioma associate it with the lungs, some individuals are surprised to find out it can significantly affect other areas.

The 4 specific types of mesothelioma are:

Lung

Abdomen

Heart

Testicular

An oncologist or cancer doctor will be able to identify the type of cancer based on its location and cell type. (3)

The most common type of mesothelioma is found in the lungs and abdomen while the most common cell type is epithelial and is actually the most responsive to treatment.

What Can We Learn From This?

It’s a little known fact that this disease can affect the heart as well as male testes.

 

 

Finding ThePrognosis Is Mesothelioma Curable

Finding The Prognosis

Is Mesothelioma Curable?

Keep in mind that each person is different and a given prognosis will depend on a variety of factors.

When meeting with a doctor, they will generally say that a patient’s prognosis is good, favorable, bad, or poor. The physicians will base their prognosis on one’s ability to recover and also how the cancer is going to impact both their body and health.

Can It Be Cured?

Although mesothelioma is an incurable disease, there have been advances in treatment and care.

Increased treatment options, improvements in diet, and other therapies are all treatment options that improve prognosis.

Longevity

Many factors can affect longevity after diagnoses including age, race, gender and the progression of the illness.

What Does This All Mean?

While not immediately curable, mesothelioma sufferers may liver longer dependent on biological factors

 

 

Mesothelioma Treatment Options

Mesothelioma Treatment Options

What Are They?

For those who have been diagnosed with this unfortunate illness, there are three primary treatment options available.

To anyone with mesothelioma cancer the possible treatments may include:

Surgery

Surgery works by removing tumors that have built up in the sufferer’s body or draining fluid that can appear in the chest and abdomen.

Radiotherapy

Radiation helps to improve cancer symptoms by shrinking cancer growth and may improve both pain and breathing.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy also shrinks tumor growth and may help if the patient is experiencing chest pain.

The recommended treatment is going to be based on a given diagnosis, stage of cancer, and the type of mesothelioma.

If the cancer is in the early stages and has not spread, generally doctors will recommend a combination of these three treatments instead of just one.

In cases where the cancer has spread or the patient is not interested in pursuing aggressive treatment, doctors may then recommend either radiation or chemotherapy which will alleviate the symptoms of the disease.

What Does This All Mean?

The usual cancer treatments are very much the solution here, with early detection being key to success.

 

 

Are There Any Breakthroughs In Curing Mesothelioma

Are There Breakthroughs In Curing Mesothelioma?

New And Alternative Treatments

Keep in mind that while the three above-mentioned treatment options are primarily used, there are also clinical trials which patients may want to pursue.

Experimental Treatments

Experimental treatments have not been proven to be effective but are an option and can be pursued in cases where the risks become low in proportion to the prognosis.

They have the potential to make a huge difference if successful.

Many new medications are being trialed so hopefully in the not too distant future from the the time of writing this, we will see a medical breakthrough. (4)

Future Vaccine

Scientists are also working on a potential vaccine which may be able to reduce the risk of mesothelioma and possibly prevent it altogether. (5)

Alternatives

Additionally, there are alternative treatments such as massage therapy or yoga.

These treatments are not designed to treat the cancer, but can help by alleviating some of the symptoms involved with cancer treatments.

A healthy and nutritious diet may maximize immune system function by providing the body with everything it needs.

Blood Pressure

There is also a link between the danger of hypertension and cancer, so maintaining a healthy blood pressure is also an important factor in fighting any illness. (6)

Discussing the treatment options and plan of care with a doctor is a good way to determine what an individual would like to pursue for their care.

What Can We Learn From This?

While there are no immediate breakthroughs, there is a lot of scientific research taking place.

 

 

Mesothelioma Medications

Mesothelioma Medications

What Are They?

A mesothelioma treatment plan is going to be individualized but will usually contain several medications that work to prevent cancer from spreading as well as shrinking any existing tumors.
These medications may be used with other therapies and are designed to attack the cancer in different ways for the best outcomes.

Each medicine falls into a different category based on how it works against cancer.

The primary categories of medication are chemotherapy, targeted therapy, immunotherapy, photosensitizing, and anti-angiogenesis.
Some of these drugs are in the testing phase and may not be used in all cases.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is one of the most common treatments for any cancer. This medication works by seeking and destroying cells that are rapidly increasing which includes cancer cells.

Although the side effects of chemo can be difficult, it is still considered to be one of the best treatment options for mesothelioma.

Two chemotherapy medications cisplatin and pemetrexed are commonly used initially. If these medications are not found to be effective, a doctor may change the patient’s treatment regimen.

TTG (Target Therapy Drugs)

Targeted therapy drugs are drugs that target molecular alterations that can be identified in cancer cell development, growth, and expansion. Unlike chemotherapy, targeted therapy is more specific and will attack only cancer cells. These drugs are currently in trials to determine if they are effective for mesothelioma.

Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy agents are drugs that do not directly attack cancer cells. Instead, they are used to enhance your own immune system and help your body to attack cancer cells.

A normal immune system does not attack cancer cells because it does not recognize them as being foreign. However, with the addition of immunotherapy medications, your immune system may be able to recognize the difference between healthy and cancerous cells.

Photodynamic Therapy

Photodynamic therapy is actually a two-step process that uses one medication to make cells vulnerable to light and then uses light to destroy the cancer cells. This type of therapy is currently being tested in mesothelioma patients and has been found to improve survival times.

Anti-Angiogenisis Drugs

One final therapy is anti-angiogenesis drugs. Angiogenesis is a normal function that allows your body to heal itself by creating new blood vessels. However, in cancer patients, this function also builds vessels to tumors which supply them with the nutrients needed to grow and spread.

Stopping this process may be a way to stop mesothelioma as well as other types of cancer.

There are currently multiple studies looking at anti-angiogenesis drugs and if they are effective treatment options.

What’s The Bottom Line Here?

Several modest medications exist which may be cycled to test effectiveness in a patient.

 

 

drawing our conclusion

What Is Mesothelioma Cancer?

Conclusion

Although mesothelioma cancer is a frightening diagnosis, it is a condition that is being studied and treated more successfully now than ever before.

In the past, a prognosis was instantly bleak with a short potential longevity of under 180 days, but now those numbers are becoming longer all the time.

Prompt diagnosis and early treatment is the key to achieving the best outcomes so much like any ailment, it’s essential to the success of care that prompt detection occurs.

Having a primary care doctor and being aware of any changes to an individual’s body may help to identify any early signs.

 

We hope you found this article “What is mesothelioma cancer?” to be informative. Please be advised that the information contained in this article is collated and offered not for the purposes of curing, treating or diagnosing any medical conditions. Please seek a professional medical opinion if you have any issues.

About the author

S James

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