Mesothelioma cancer affects the linings of the lung and abdomen membrane. This kind of cancer reaches the malignant stage in no time if the cause is “asbestos”; exposure to which is one of the most common reasons for mesothelioma cancer.
There are different names of this disease owing to the area it affects – Pleural mesothelioma affects the lung’s protective lining within the chest cavity and is the most common one; Peritoneal mesothelioma is the cancer that occurs in the abdominal cavity, and pericardial mesothelioma cancer happens in the cardiac cavity.
Who are at the Risk of having Mesothelioma Cancer?
Majority of the people who develop mesothelioma are seen to be engaged in jobs where they are in exposure to asbestors or ingesting the asbestos fibers. The cancer can start growing eventually by the airborne asbestos dust and fibers as well.
The family is also at risk as while washing the clothes of the worker (in asbestos environment) calls for a risk for developing mesothelioma. Tobacco smoking is not directly linked to this type of cancer but it does increase the risk factor.
Symptoms of Mesothelioma Cancer
Often it is seen that the signs and symptoms of mesothelioma cancer might not show up until 50 years or more even after regular exposure to asbestos. Following the symptoms of this type of cancer, the diagnosis becomes difficult as they are very common to other diseases as well. Some of the symptoms are as follows –
- Fluid around the lung
- Painful chest wall
- Shortness of breath
- Hoarseness in voice or coughing continuously
- Blood in the sputum fluid or the thrown out cough
- Tumor masses, pneumothorax, lung collapse (in severe cases)
- Abdominal pain and masses
- Abnormal bowel functioning
- Excessive weight loss
Treatment of Mesothelioma Cancer
The treatment of this type of cancer have not found much of success; although chemotherapy and multimodality treatments showed better prognosis, but cured cases are very rare. Here are few options of treating mesothelioma cancer –
Surgeries have seldom been fruitful in curing this type of cancer; however after a combined treatment with radiation and chemotherapy and then a pleurectomy or decortication is the only possible surgery process where the chest lining is removed altogether. Extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP) is also another surgical method which is less common.
If the disease is localised and the patient can bear the radical surgery, radiation is given as post operative treatment, where the hemi-thorax is given radiation therapy along with chemotherapy. This method helps to prevent tumor growths along the chest wall, but also has the possibility of side effect like fatal pneumonitis.
This is the only mesothelioma cancer treatment that has shown really good results in both control and survival. Cisplatin chemotherapy is effective alone; however sometimes a combination of cisplatin and pemetrexed chemotherapy is also given for malignant pleural mesothelioma. The common side effects of chemotherapy are vomiting, nausea, diarrhoea and stomatitis.
Some more treatment options for mesothelioma cancer are immunotherapy, heated intraoperative intraperitoneal chemotherapy, multimodality therapy and other clinical trials.