Mesothelioma is a relatively rare form of cancer that is often associated with exposure to asbestos. Asbestos fibers have been proven to alter the macropages (white blood cells within tissues) immunity functions and secretory properties, leading to the development of mesothelioma. The cancer cells develop in the protective lining of human internal organ, called mesothelium. There are two types of mesothelioma: the pleural mesothelioma and peritoneal mesothelioma.
Pleural Mesothelioma happens when the cancer cells develop in the outer lining of the lungs and internal chest wall, generally known as pleura. Symptoms for this case include the following:
• Pleural effusion ( fluid between the lung and the chest wall)
• Chest wall pain
• Shortness of breath
• Anemia and fatigue
• Blood in the sputum (fluid) coughed up (hemoptysis)
Peritoneal Mesothelioma on the other hand, involves cancer cells in the lining of abdominal cavity called peritoneum. Symptoms for this type of mesothelioma do not show up until they are at late stage. These symptoms are the following:
• weight loss and cachexia
• abdominal swelling and pain due to ascites ( a build-up of fluid in the abdominal cavity)
• bowel obstruction
• blood clotting abnormalities
Mesothelioma signs and symptoms does not manifest right away after the exposure to asbestos. It takes 20-50 years before the illness can be detected. Chest X-ray and CT scan are often performed to the suspected patient, and eventually undergo biopsy (tissue sample) to confirm the diagnosis. Treatment for these cases varies, depending on the type and stage of the cancer as well as the over all health of the patient. Generally, treatments include chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation or a combination of these treatment techniques. As of now, the medical community is continuously trying to develop a more effective drug and treatment technique to help patients that are suffering from mesothelioma.