Mesothelioma

Do you know that there is a kind of kind of cancer that is quite rare compared to other kinds of cancer but remains a serious threat nowadays? Do you know that this cancer is caused by high exposure to asbestos? This illness is called mesothelioma, the cancer of the cells that form the external lining of the lungs, lining inside the ribs or pleura and the lining around the abdomen or peritoneum. These malignant cells grow in mesothelium which is a protective covering of the internal organs inside the body. The most common area is the pleura though it also occurs in the peritoneum, the heart, the pericardium or a sac surrounding the heart, or the vaginal tunic.

Many people who developed mesothelioma have been exposed to asbestos. These people have either worked on jobs such as auto mechanics, boiler makers, chemical plant workers, construction workers, electricians, hipyard workers, insulators, miners, pipefitters, plumbers, power plant workers, railroad workers, steamfitters, and welders, where they could have inhaled asbestos fibres or they have been exposed to asbestos fibres in many other ways. Asbestos fibres are usually released into the air which makes it easier to be swept away and passed on to hundreds of people through inhalation. Moreover, asbestos can now be found in homes for families who have workers exposed to asbestos carry clothes that are contaminated with asbestos. A family member who washes these clothes can cause a great risk of developing mesothelioma. It can also be brought home via the skin or hair. Smoking, on the other hand, is not associated with mesothelioma for it does not directly cause the disease. However, smoking can seriously intensify the risk of acquiring asbestos-induced cancer.

The symptoms of mesothelioma include pain under the rib cage or chest pain, abdomen pain and swelling, lumps in the abdomen, weight loss for unknown reasons and shortness of breath caused by pleural effusion or the fluid between the lung and chest wall. These symptoms are not detected until the later stages of the disease that makes it hard to cure. However, diagnosis can still be done through X-ray of the chest and abdomen, CT scans that provides cross-sectional pictures of the body, MRI scans that detects normal and diseased tissues, confirmed biopsies with samples of body tissues, and microscopic examination. In order to take a biopsy, a thoracoscopy is performed using a tube which is inserted with a camera into the chest wall and tissue is taken for testing. This allows pleurodesis or the introduction of substances like talc to wipe out the pleural space. It hinders the building up of fluids inside the lungs that press it. Therapies such chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgeries sometimes lead to a negative diagnosis.

That is why research has still been ongoing to be able to early detect mesothelioma. Thus, it is important to have an early detection of mesothelioma so that the mesothelioma diagnosis of a person can greatly improve because more treatments are available.