Many people are getting infected with mesothelioma cancer as we speak and most of them are oblivious to its existence or its cause.
Rather than stating just facts, we have taken an introspective approach while writing this article. We follow question and answer format, just the way we ask questions to just about anything …
What is Mesothelioma Cancer?
Mesothelium is the thin protective layer of tissue or lining that covers the majority of the internal organs: lungs, abdomen, heart and testes.
Mesothelioma is a deadly form of cancer that forms in the mesothelium, the layer of tissue that protects your internal organs.
Doctors call the disease malignant mesothelioma or simply ‘mesothelioma’ (shortened) when the tumors turn cancerous.
There are 3,000 new cases of mesothelioma each year in the U.S according to the American Cancer Society.
What causes Mesothelioma Cancer?
So far, exposure to asbestos is the only known cause of mesothelioma cancer. Hence, asbestos remains the primary cause and has a poor prognosis.
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral substance comprising fibers that are soft and flexible yet resistant to heat, electricity and chemical corrosion. They are mostly used while constructing buildings as it is heat resistant, to some extent.
Development of Mesothelioma
When you inhale or swallow airborne Asbestos, its microscopic fibers get stuck and lodged in the lining of the chest, abdomen or heart.
It then damages the mesothelial cells causing inflammation. Long exposure of this, over time, causes tumor which develops on the damaged mesothelium as the body fails to expel the fibers.
Although it doesn’t happen to every single person you come across, but it’s still not a bad idea to keep a cautious watch for the symptoms:
What are the Symptoms of Mesothelioma?
The symptoms vary depending on the type of mesothelioma cancer. However, the commonly known symptoms irrespective of the cancer types are:
- Dry coughing
- Shortness of breath
- Respiratory issues
- Chest pain
- Pain on abdomen
- Night sweats or fever
- Fluid around the lungs
- Exhaustion, Tiredness and Lethargy
- Weakness in the muscles
Usually, there are no signs until tumors have grown and spread substantially. Mesothelioma takes around 20-50 years from initial exposure to accurate diagnosis. That’s why, most of the patients are in their 60s or 70s.
How to Diagnose Mesothelioma?
Consulting a mesothelioma specialist is advisable because the earlier you are diagnosed with it, the more your chances of improving prognosis and increasing life expectancy.
Although there are a few common signs and symptoms of mesothelioma, it may vary based on the type of mesothelioma.
Life Expectancy Stages of Mesothelioma Cancer
Doctors categorise mesothelioma into one of four stages. There are several staging systems, however, the TNM System is the most commonly used. TNM stands for tumor, lymph nodes, and metastasis.
Stage 1 Mesothelioma Cancer
The tumor is localized in one area but hasn’t spread to other parts of the body. In this stage, surgery is the most effective option to go for, the survival rate is higher, and the median life expectancy is 22.2 months.
Stage 2 Mesothelioma Cancer
Over time, tumor has started to spread in nearby areas or adjacent structures from the original location of the body. In this stage, surgery is still possible. However, median life expectancy at stage 2 is 20 months, which is lesser than the first stage.
Mesothelioma Life Expectancy Stage 3
The tumors have spread to several nearby locations and the regional or surrounding lymph nodes. The option of surgery may depend on the health status of the patients. The median life expectancy at stage 3 is 17.9 months.
Stage 4 Mesothelioma Cancer
The tumors have spread extensively in multiples areas of other organs throughout the body and surgery is no longer a viable option. However, patients who go through chemotherapy and immunotherapy control symptoms and prolong their survival. In the last stage, median life expectancy at stage 4 is 14.9 months or less.
Types of Mesothelioma Cancer
There are four types of mesothelioma which are differentiated from each other based on the location in the body where it develops.
The most common ones are the Pleural and Peritoneal types of mesothelioma. The third one, Pericardial accounts for 1 percent of cases.
The fourth one (which is the rarest) is testicular mesothelioma — this represents less than 1 percent of all mesotheliomas. Prognosis, symptoms and treatment options vary by type.
Pleural Mesothelioma Cancer
Peritoneal Mesothelioma Cancer
Pericardial Mesothelioma Cancer
Testicular Mesothelioma Cancer
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