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What is Mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive form of cancer that develops in the lining of the lungs, stomach or heart.

What is Mesothelioma and How to Treat it?



The average life expectancy of mesothelioma patients is 12 - 21 months after diagnosis. Symptoms can include chest pain, shortness of breath, and general fatigue.


Three out of every four cases of mesothelioma disease begins in the chest cavity. Mesothelioma can also start in the abdominal cavity and around the heart.


Wherever they originate, malignant cells from the mesothelium can invade and damage surrounding tissue. Cancer cells can also metastasize, or spread, to other parts of the body.


Often by the time mesothelioma is diagnosed, the disease is already chronic. The 5-year survival rate is about 5% to 10%.


Most patients with pulmonary mesothelioma die of respiratory failure or pneumonia.

Some patients develop small bowel obstruction when the tumor extends through the diaphragm, the muscle that separates the chest and abdominal cavities.


A small number of people die of heart complications when the tumor invades the pericardium - the thin sac that surrounds the heart - and the heart itself.

There are four types of mesothelioma cancer, namely:


Pleural mesothelioma (pleural mesothelioma), which is cancer that attacks the mesothelium lining the lungs (pleura). This type is the most common type.

Peritoneal mesothelioma (peritoneal mesothelioma), namely mesothelioma in the lining of the abdominal cavity (peritoneum).

Pericardial mesothelioma (pericardial mesothelioma), namely mesothelioma that attacks the protective layer of the heart organ.

Testicular mesothelioma (testis mesothelioma), which is mesothelioma that attacks the protective layer of the testes or testicles.


How Mesothelioma Affects Your Body

Scientists don't know for sure what causes mesothelioma, however, researchers have identified factors that have been shown to increase the risk of developing cancer. Although not the only factor, exposure to asbestos is strongly associated with the development of mesothelioma.


The main causative factor for mesothelioma is working with asbestos or asbestos. Asbestos is a group of minerals with thin microscopic fibers.


Mesothelioma, like all cancers, begins when a cell's DNA undergoes a change (mutation) that causes the cell to receive misinformation and multiply unchecked. This uncontrolled cell growth results in a tumor (mass).


Because these fibers are resistant to heat, fire, and chemicals and do not conduct electricity, asbestos has been mined and used extensively in the construction, automotive and other industries.


If tiny asbestos fibers are released into the air, as they are in the manufacturing process, they can be inhaled or swallowed, causing serious health problems.


As many as 75% of mesothelioma cases can be attributed to asbestos exposure in the workplace. There is also some evidence that family members and other people living with asbestos workers have a higher risk of developing mesothelioma, and possibly other asbestos-related diseases.


As mesothelioma develops, it can cause fluid to accumulate in the pleural space between the lungs and the chest wall, causing chest pain and shortness of breath.

If left untreated, mesothelioma often spreads to the lymph nodes and progresses rapidly, resulting in death.

Mesothelioma differences vary based on where the cancer cells are located. Pericardial mesothelioma causes chest pain and difficulty, while tunica vaginalis mesothelioma causes swelling of the testicles.


Mesothelioma most commonly affects the mesothelium of the lungs (called pleural mesothelioma). Pleural mesothelioma has the following symptoms:

  • Cough with unbearable pain.
  • Shortness of breath due to accumulation of fluid in the chest.
  • An unusual lump in the tissue under the skin of the chest.
  • Weight loss for no apparent reason.
  • Symptoms of peritoneal (abdominal) mesothelioma can include:
  • Weight loss
  • Swelling and pain in the stomach
  • Blood clotting disorders
  • Intestinal obstruction
  • Anemia
  • Fever


Common Symptoms of Mesothelioma

  • dry cough
  • Hard to breathe
  • Respiratory complications
  • Pain in the chest or stomach
  • Fever at night sweats
  • Pleural effusion (fluid around the lungs)
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness in muscles

Because many conditions have these symptoms, having these symptoms does not mean you have mesothelioma. It is important to see your doctor to determine what is causing it.


If you believe you have been exposed to asbestos at work or at home, there are steps you can take to limit your exposure and reduce your risk of developing mesothelioma.

Ask your boss if you are at risk of inhaling asbestos in your workplace.

Be sure to follow all safety rules set by your employer, including wearing protective equipment or showering and changing into work clothes before returning home.

If you live in an older home, it is safer to leave the asbestos than move it.

Breaking down the asbestos fibers releases them into the air, making them easier to breathe.

If you believe your home has asbestos, call a professional to test the air to determine if you are at risk.

Other contributing factors include radiation therapy, age and genetics. Radiation is primarily concerned with patients who have received high-dose radiation therapy to the chest, such as patients with lymphoma.


Although the risk of mesothelioma increases with age, even children who have received radiation therapy can develop the disease, so if you have received this kind of treatment, it is important to talk to your doctor.


About 1% of patients diagnosed with mesothelioma have inherited a genetic mutation from their parents that has put them at increased risk of having the disease.

Medical History and Physical Examination

Because mesothelioma is rare, it is often misdiagnosed at first. If you have symptoms that suggest you may have mesothelioma, your doctor will likely take a complete medical history to check for symptoms and possible things that increase your risk of developing this disease, especially exposure to asbestos. Asbestos exposure is the No. 1 which makes mesothelioma more likely.


Your doctor will also ask about your general health and perform an examination to check for possible signs of mesothelioma. This may include fluid in the chest cavity, abdomen, or pericardium (thin membrane around the heart).


Depending on the exam findings, your doctor may refer you for mesothelioma testing.

Mesothelioma Diagnosis

To determine the diagnosis of mesothelioma, the doctor will conduct a series of medical interviews or a history and physical examination. Possible follow-up checks:

Imaging – such as X-ray, CT-Scan, MRI, PET Scan.

Blood tests to check mesothelin biomarkers.

Biopsy, which is taking a sample of tissue / body fluids to be examined under a microscope, to identify the presence of malignant cells or not.

Mesothelioma Treatment

Several steps for mesothelioma treatment are generally carried out such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Surgery is performed to remove cancer which is generally still in the early stages of disease progression, although in some cases it still does not remove the cancer cells completely.


Preventive measures against mesothelioma that can be done is to avoid or reduce contact with asbestos or asbestos. Because, this is the main cause of mesothelioma.


However, if the risk of exposure to asbestos is unavoidable or if you are a person who has a job with a risk of exposure to asbestos, comply with the established safety rules. In addition, you should also know the safe handling of asbestos.


Treatment for mesothelioma is given based on its type. Some types of mesothelioma can be supported with surgery, and others with chemotherapy. Some mesothelioma treatments that can be given include:

Operation

Recommended surgery to remove

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy treatment uses drugs that are injected or pill-formed to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy drugs are spread throughout the patient's body to kill cancer cells that have spread to other parts of the body.

Radiation Therapy

It uses high-powered X-rays to kill cancer cells. During radiation therapy, the patient is positioned on a table and the machine moves around the patient, being moved to the area where the cancer cells are moving.

When to go to the doctor?

If you have risk factors, one of which is exposure to asbestos and has respiratory problems and a cough that is quite long, immediately consult a doctor. To do an examination, you can immediately make an appointment with the doctor of your choice at the hospital according to your domicile here.

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