Mesothelioma is a uncommon form of cancer in which malignant (cancerous) cells are found in the mesothelium, the protective sac that covers most of the body’s organs. Most people who develop mesothelioma have worked on jobs where they inhaled asbestos particles.
What is the mesothelium?
The mesothelium is a membrane that covers as well as protects most of the organs of the body. It is composed of two levels of cells: 1 layer immediately surrounds the organ; the other forms a sac close to it. The mesothelium creates a lubricating fluid that is released between these levels, allowing moving internal organs (such as the beating heart and the expanding as well as contracting lungs) in order to glide easily towards adjacent structures.
The mesothelium has different names, depending on its location in your body. The peritoneum is the mesothelial tissue that covers the majority of the organs in the abdominal cavity. The pleura may be the membrane that surrounds the lungs and lines the walls of the chest hole. The pericardium covers and protects the heart. The mesothelial tissue surrounding a mans internal reproductive organs is called the tunica vaginalis testis. The actual tunica serosa uteri covers the internal reproductive system organs in women.
What is actually mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma (cancer of the mesothelium) is a illness in which cells of the mesothelium become abnormal as well as divide without control or order. They can invade and harm nearby tissues as well as organs. Cancer tissue can also metastasize (spread) from their original site to other parts of the body. Most cases associated with mesothelioma begin in the actual pleura or peritoneum.
How common is mesothelioma?
Although reported incidence rates have increased previously 20 years, mesothelioma continues to be a relatively rare cancer. About 2,000 new cases of mesothelioma cancer are diagnosed in the United States each year. Mesothelioma occurs more often in men than in women and risk increases with age, but this disease can appear in either men or women at any age.
What would be the risk factors with regard to mesothelioma?
Working with asbestos fiber is the major risk factor for mesothelioma. A history of asbestos exposure at the office is reported in about 70 percent to 80 % of all cases. Nevertheless, mesothelioma has been reported in some individuals with no known exposure to asbestos fiber.
Asbestos is the name of a group of minerals that occur naturally because masses of strong, versatile fibers that can be divided into thin threads and woven. Asbestos fiber has been widely used in several industrial products, including cement, brake textures, roof shingles, flooring products, textiles, and insulation. If tiny asbestos fiber particles float in the air, especially during the manufacturing process, they may be breathed in or swallowed, and can cause serious health issues. In addition to mesothelioma, contact with asbestos increases the risk of lung cancer, asbestosis (a noncancerous, chronic lung ailment), and other cancer, such as those of the actual larynx and kidney.
Smoking doesn’t appear to increase the risk of mesothelioma. However, the mixture of smoking and asbestos exposure significantly increases a person’s risk of creating cancer of the air passageways in the lung.
Who is at increased risk for developing mesothelioma?
Asbestos has been mined and used commercially since the late 19th century. Its use significantly increased during World War II. Since the early Nineteen forties, millions of American employees have been exposed to asbestos dirt. Initially, the risks associated with asbestos exposure were not recognized. However, an increased risk of developing mesothelioma was later found amongst shipyard workers, people who work in asbestos mines and mills, producers of asbestos fiber products, workers in the heating and construction industries, and other tradespeople. Today, the U.Utes. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sets limits for acceptable levels of asbestos exposure in the workplace. People who work with asbestos put on personal protective equipment to lower their risk of publicity.
The risk of asbestos-related disease increases with heavier exposure to asbestos and lengthier exposure time. However, some individuals with just brief exposures have developed mesothelioma. On the other hand, not all employees who are heavily exposed develop asbestos-related diseases.
There is a few evidence that family members and others living with asbestos fiber workers have an elevated risk of developing mesothelioma cancer, and possibly other asbestos-related diseases. This risk may be the result of exposure to asbestos dust brought house on the clothing as well as hair of asbestos workers. To reduce the risk of exposing family members to asbestos fibers, asbestos workers are usually required to shower and change their own clothing before leaving the workplace.
What are the the signs of mesothelioma?
Symptoms of mesothelioma cancer may not appear till 30 to 50 years after exposure to asbestos. Difficulty breathing and pain within the chest due to an amount of fluid in the pleura are often symptoms of pleural mesothelioma. The signs of peritoneal mesothelioma include weight reduction and abdominal discomfort and swelling as a result of buildup of fluid in the abdomen. Other symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma may include bowel obstruction, blood clotting abnormalities, anemia, and a fever. If the cancer has spread beyond the mesothelium with other parts of the body, symptoms can include pain, trouble ingesting, or swelling of the neck or encounter.
These symptoms may be caused by mesothelioma or by other, less severe conditions. It is important to see a doctor about these symptoms. Only a doctor can make a diagnosis.
How is mesothelioma diagnosed?
Diagnosing mesothelioma cancer is often difficult, since the symptoms are similar to the ones from a number of other conditions. Diagnosis begins with a review of the patient’s medical history, such as any history of asbestos exposure. A complete physical examination may be performed, including x-rays of the chest or even abdomen and lung perform tests. A CT (or even CAT) scan or even an MRI may also be helpful. A CT scan is a series of detailed pictures of areas within the body created by some type of computer linked to an x-ray machine. In an MRI, a powerful magnetic linked to a computer is used to make detailed photos of areas within the body. These pictures are viewed on the monitor and can be also printed.
A biopsy is needed to confirm a diagnosis of mesothelioma cancer. In a biopsy, a doctor or a medical oncologist (a doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating cancer) removes a sample associated with tissue for evaluation under a microscope with a pathologist. A biopsy may be completed in different ways, depending on in which the abnormal area is located. If the cancer is in the chest, the doctor might perform a thoracoscopy. In this process, the doctor makes a little cut through the chest wall and places a thin, lighted tube called a thoracoscope into the chest between two ribs. Thoracoscopy allows a doctor to look inside the upper body and obtain tissue examples. If the cancer is incorporated in the abdomen, the doctor might perform a peritoneoscopy. To obtain tissue for examination, the doctor makes a small opening in the abdomen as well as inserts a special device called a peritoneoscope into the stomach cavity. If these procedures do not deliver enough tissue, more extensive diagnostic surgery may be necessary.
If the diagnosis is mesothelioma, the doctor will want to learn the stage (or extent) from the disease. Staging entails more tests in a careful attempt to discover whether the cancer offers spread and, if so, to which parts of the body. Understanding the stage of the illness helps the doctor strategy treatment.
Mesothelioma is referred to as localized if the most cancers is found only about the membrane surface exactly where it originated. It is classified as sophisticated if it has spread beyond the original membrane surface to other areas of the body, such as the lymph nodes, lungs, chest wall, or abdominal organs.
How is mesothelioma treated?
Treatment for mesothelioma cancer depends on the location of the most cancers, the stage of the disease, and the patient’s age and general health. Standard treatment options include surgery, radiation therapy, and radiation treatment. Sometimes, these remedies are combined.
Surgery is a common treatment for mesothelioma. The doctor might remove part of the lining of the chest or abdomen and some of the tissue around it. For cancer from the pleura (pleural mesothelioma), a lung might be removed in an operation called a pneumonectomy. Sometimes part of the diaphragm, the muscle below the lungs that helps with breathing, is also removed.
Radiation therapy, also called radiotherapy, requires the use of high-energy rays in order to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. Radiation therapy affects the cells of cancer only in the handled area. The radiation will come from a machine (external radiation) or from putting materials which produce radiation through thin plastic pipes into the area where the cancer cells are located (internal radiation therapy).
Chemotherapy is the use of anticancer drugs in order to kill cancer tissue throughout the body. The majority of drugs used to treat mesothelioma are given by injection into a vein (intravenous, or IV). Doctors are also studying the effectiveness of putting chemotherapy directly into the chest or abdomen (intracavitary chemotherapy).
To relieve symptoms as well as control pain, the doctor may use a needle or a thin tube to drain fluid which has built up in the upper body or abdomen. The process for removing fluid from the chest is known as thoracentesis. Removal of fluid in the abdomen is called paracentesis. Drugs may be given via a tube in the chest to prevent more liquid from accumulating. Radiotherapy and surgery may also be helpful in relieving signs and symptoms.
Are new treatments with regard to mesothelioma being studied?
Yes. Because mesothelioma is very hard to control, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) is sponsoring medical trials (research studies with individuals) that are designed to find new treatments and better ideas and applications current treatments. Before any new treatment can be recommended for general use, doctors conduct clinical trials to find out whether the treatment is secure for patients as well as effective against the disease. Participation in medical trials is an important therapy option for many patients with mesothelioma.
People interested in taking part in a clinical trial should talk with their doctor. Information about medical trials is available from the Cancer Information Service (CIS) (see below) at 1-800-4-CANCER. Information specialists in the CIS use PDQ®, NCI’s cancer info database, to identify and provide detailed information about specific ongoing clinical trials. Patients also have a choice of searching for clinical tests on their own. The clinical trials page on the NCI’s Cancer.gov Web site, situated at http://www.cancer.gov/clinicaltrials on the Internet, provides general information about clinical trials as well as links to PDQ.
People considering clinical trials might be interested in the NCI guide Taking Part in Cancer Therapy Research Studies. This guide describes how scientific studies are carried out and explains their possible benefits and risks. The booklet is available through calling the CIS, or even from the NCI Publications Locator Site at http://www.cancer.gov/publications on the web.