Mesothelioma is a type of cancer caused due to asbestos exposure. Asbestos is a mineral fiber that is heat resistant and quite strong as well. Due to these properties, asbestos was widely used in different types of construction materials, like tiles, cement, and insulation as well. Asbestos was widely used in the military to build ships, aircraft, tanks, and more.
While the use of asbestos was prohibited after the 1980s, its effects can still be seen in people who had been exposed to the mineral many years ago. Consequently, mesothelioma is mostly found in men older than 65 who worked blue-collar jobs and were exposed to asbestos during work.
What is Mesothelioma?
As mentioned earlier, mesothelioma is a cancer that develops in the lining of your organs. It can develop in the lining of the lungs, abdomen, heart, or testicles. However, mesothelioma is commonly found in the lining of the lungs and the abdomen. According to the CDC, 81.2% of mesothelioma cases are of pleural (lung) mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma symptoms develop decades after asbestos exposure, due to which the disease is often diagnosed once it has progressed. Some common symptoms of mesothelioma include:
- Chest pain.
- Respiratory symptoms like coughing and shortness of breath.
- Unexplained sudden weight loss.
- Abdominal pain and swelling.
If you have any symptoms that might suggest you have mesothelioma, your doctor will conduct different tests to determine whether you have the disease and how much it has progressed. While getting a mesothelioma diagnosis can be overwhelming, it is important to remember that there are several resources available to help patients deal with their diagnosis.
For instance, you can visit mesotheliomahope.com, which is a widely trusted resource among mesothelioma patients. They provide accurate information regarding the treatment options, symptoms, and the best treatment centers and doctors.
A biopsy is a medical procedure where a small part of tissue is removed for laboratory examination. It is also the only sure way to conclude whether or not someone has mesothelioma. Your doctor will determine which type of biopsy is suitable for you according to the location of the disease.
- Sample collection through surgery
During this procedure, your doctor will operate and take a small sample of fluid or tissue from the affected area. They will also insert a video camera and other tools through a small incision in your chest or abdomen, which will allow your doctor to see any abnormal areas.
- Biopsy with a needle
This is the least invasive type of biopsy. During this procedure, the doctor will extract a fluid or tissue sample by inserting a fine needle into your abdomen or chest.
After a tissue sample is extracted, it is sent to the lab for examination. Then, it is determined whether the abnormal tissue is mesothelioma or not. The results also help your doctor create a suitable treatment plan for you.
- Imaging Scans
Imaging scans can be used for several reasons throughout your treatment. Your doctor might order a scan to look for abnormalities if you show any symptoms of mesothelioma before conducting a biopsy. These scans can help detect the location and extent of the cancer and help determine whether the treatment plan is effective.
If you are diagnosed with mesothelioma, your doctor will create a treatment plan according to your physical health and the stage and location of the cancer. Unfortunately, mesothelioma is not curable. The disease is usually identified at an advanced stage when it is not possible to remove the cancer surgically anymore. However, treatment can help control the cancer, improve your quality of life, and increase life expectancy.
Here are some of the treatment options for mesothelioma. Your doctor might use a combination of treatment options to curate a suitable plan for you.
While chemotherapy has several side effects, it is the most common type of treatment for cancer. Chemotherapy is used to kill or slow down the growth of cancer cells that cannot be removed through surgery. It can also be used before surgery to make the operation easier or after surgery to shrink the cancer cells that couldn’t be removed. In the case of peritoneal (abdominal) mesothelioma, your surgeon might administer chemotherapy drugs directly into the abdominal cavity.
- Radiation Therapy
Radiation therapy uses high-energy beams, usually from X-rays, to focus on certain areas of the body. This helps target cancer cells left over after surgery. However, if the cancer has progressed and surgery is not possible, radiation therapy can be used to reduce the signs and symptoms of mesothelioma.
Surgery is used to remove mesothelioma if it is diagnosed at an early stage. It may be used to remove the cancer cells completely or partially to prevent the cancer from spreading and help reduce the symptoms of mesothelioma.
Your doctor may perform surgery to:
- Reduce fluid buildup.
- Remove tissue from around the lungs.
- Remove a lung and tissue.
- Remove peritoneal (abdominal) mesothelioma.
Your immune system is responsible for fighting off any harmful things like bacteria and pathogens. However, it may not target cancer cells as they produce a protein that can blind your immune system. Immunotherapy interferes with this process and uses your immune system to target cancer cells.
- Targeted Therapy
Targeted therapy uses drugs that target specific weaknesses of cancer cells. While this is not a common treatment method for mesothelioma, your doctor may recommend it if it is suitable for your case.
- Late-Stage Care
As mentioned earlier, there is no cure for mesothelioma. While different treatment options can be used to slow down the cancer and reduce painful symptoms, the disease cannot be cured.
Luckily, several options can help people diagnosed with later stages of mesothelioma. These options help patients lead a comparatively comfortable life. They include:
- Hospice care.
- Respite care.
- Palliative care.
Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that is caused by exposure to a harmful mineral known as asbestos. While there are four types of mesothelioma, it is most commonly found in the lining of the lungs. Unfortunately, it can take decades for symptoms to develop. This makes it harder to manage this incurable disease. While there is no known cure for mesothelioma, there are several treatment options that can help slow down its progress.