Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Pleural Mesothelioma

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There are two types of Pleural Mesothelioma: Cancerous and non-cancerous.

Benign mesothelioma many times can be surgically removed and is generally not life threatening or a result of asbestos exposure. Malignant mesothelioma is very serious, though. The infliction is quite rare and less than three thousand people in the US get it each year.

The following section is about malignant pleural mesothelioma:

Pleural mesothelioma is a cancer of the cells that affects the skin or inner lining (known medically as the pleura) outside of the lungs and inside of the ribs. This is caused ONLY by exposure to asbestos fibers found in products made mostly by US corporations. The exposure could have occurred many, many years ago because it takes many years for the disease to show up. Pleural mesothelioma is the most common type of mesothelioma and chances are that if you have mesothelioma, this is the type you have.

Often Mesothelioma is diagnosed when no symptoms are present. This could be because a tumor is present or is randomly discovered through something like a routine exam. When these symptoms do occur, they can include shortness of breath, weight loss, chest pains, pains about the lower back, chronic cough, difficulty swallowing, and severe weakness. In the initial examination a medical examination will often show a pleural effusion, which is a bunch of fluid in the area between the lungs and the wall of the chest.

Pleural EffusionA chest x-ray or CT scan is the necessary first step in identifying mesothelioma, which is followed up with what is called a bronchoscopy. A bronchoscopy requires a viewing scope to look inside the lungs. The diagnosis itself requires a biopsy which allows the medical professionals to take a little piece of tissue from the area in question. This can be done using a tiny needle, an open cut, or even these days through a tube with a camera on the end of it. This is a procedure that must happen at the hospital, but it is not a painful procedure typically.

Any fluid build-up from the pleural effusion can generally be viewed via the x-ray and can be heard through the dr.’s stethoscope during examination. The only firm diagnosis of mesothelioma can be made through the biopsy described earlier. Because other things like tumors and benign effusions can look like mesothelioma, a biopsy is the only safe way to tell as a diagnosis of mesothelioma can be one of the most difficult in the book.

As the tumor spreads over the lining between the lungs and the chest, flexibility can be increasingly painful and restricted. Because of this, breathing becomes much more difficult. It begins with shortness of breath potentially while exercising but as function continues to drop short breath can become more and more of a persistent problem.

Although there is no cure for pleural mesothelioma, the treatment options have improved for managing symptoms. As with any cancer, the prognosis is better for those diagnosed early, and treatment can be more aggressive. Most pleural mesothelioma patients are treated with a multimodal therapy, or combination of treatment options. It is possible for patients with pleural mesothelioma to live for 5 to 10 years after diagnosis, although the average survival time is about a year.

Specific types of treatment include:

Experimental treatments such as gene therapy, angiogenesis inhibitors, immunotherapy, and many clinical trials are also in the development stages.

Although mesothelioma remains uncurable, many other treatments have had success in pain reduction and improving lung function. Surgeries to remove tumors and reduce pressure have shown promise in pain reduction, and pain control medications are constantly improving. In some cases, X-ray therapy has been shown to control tumor pain as well.

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1 comment:

roscoefuller said...

This blog contains some very useful information. It is very well written! If anyone has been diagnosed with mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure, explore your litigation options @


This is a very useful resource.



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