Mesothelioma is a form of cancer. Asbestos is the main cause of pleural mesothelioma. On the other hand, there are many other causes as well. Needle-like fibres of asbestos accumulate in lungs. So, this situation leads to obstruction of airways and cause difficulty in breathing.
Pleural mesothelioma is the most common type. Mostly cases include this type of tumor. Major cause is inhalation of asbestos. Symptoms appear after 40-50 years of asbestos exposure. That is why, this disease affects at an older age.
The patient at last stage (IV) of pleural mesothelioma can survive up to 12 months. This period depends on many factors. For example environmental conditions, lifestyle, and treatments opportunities.
There is no accurate cure of pleural mesothelioma. But different treatments can increase life span. For example; chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery.
Pleural Mesothelioma details:
Therefore, let’s summarise the brief summary:
- Most common type, about 75-80% cases
- Main cause is asbestos exposure
- Pleural mesothelioma stages range from I to IV.
- Low survival rate and life period
- Mostly, tumor forms on thin membrane (mesothelium), covering the lungs.
Causes: Due to high level of asbestos fibres and dust in lungs.
Signs and symptoms: Shortness of breath, difficulty in swallowing food, obstructed airways, dry cough, chest pain
Diagnosis: By tissue biopsy, CT (computerised tomography) scan, MRI, PET (Positron electron tomography) techniques.
Treatments: lungs removal, surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy
Prognosis: Average life expectancy of most pleural mesothelioma patients is 12-18 months after diagnosis.
Causes of Pleural Mesothelioma:
The main cause is asbestos exposure. Accumulation of needle-like fibres of asbestos mineral in the lungs cause difficulty in breathing. Afterward, these fibres move into the pleural lining.
Asbestos fibres cause irritation. It also induce changes in the genetic material (DNA mutation). Mutation leads to growth of abnormal tumor or cancerous cells.
Pleural membrane consists of 2 layers. Outer membrane covers the abdomen, and chest cavity. While inner pleural membrane covers the lungs. A localised tumor forms on any pleural membrane and spread to the other membrane. Formation of tumor also accumulates pleural fluid in the chest cavity.
Accumulation of pleural fluid prevents lungs from expansion. Eventually situation leads to breathing difficulty.
Signs and Symptoms of pleural mesothelioma:
Its symptoms include:
- Difficulty in breathing
- Shortness of breath
- Dry cough
- Difficulty in swallowing
- Pain in lower abdominal area
- Nerve pain
- Drastic Weight loss
- Lumps under the skin tissues
- Night sweating and fever
Meanwhile, these symptoms can be confused with common common cold or fever. But it’s better to visit your doctor, if the situation persists. Hence, getting a proper diagnosis is very crucial.
Chest pain and breathing difficulty are the main symptoms. If X-ray analysis show plaque buildup or fluid accumulation in lungs, then it is the time to consult a lungs specialist.
Specialists perform tissue biopsies, CT scans or MRI to diagnose the cancer. Cancer stage and cell type play a very important role in determining cancer treatment plans. Furthermore, every diagnosis method should be performed for complete indication.
Most cases occur in epithelial cell type (epithelioid mesothelioma). While some of the cases occur in sarcomatoid. It is very difficult to treat. Consequently, both of these types lead to different treatments.
There are many conditions for diagnosis of pleural mesothelioma. All these methods are used in diagnosis.
1. Pleural Plaque:
Some thickening areas in the pleural membrane indicate pleural plaque. It is the sign of pleural mesothelioma. These plaques are not cancerous but can be a great stimulus for cancerous tumor.
2. Pleural Effusion:
Rapid exposure and irritation of asbestos build up fluid between the pleural membranes. It is called pleural effusion. Too much pleural effusion puts pressure on lungs, making it difficult to expand. In addition to that, it causes chest pain, shortness of breath and swallowing difficulty.
3. Pleural Thickening:
Pleural thickening is related to excessive fluid effusion. When pleural membrane stiffen, it cause difficulty in breathing. Consequently, it reduces lung surface area for gaseous exchange.Likewise, Pleural thickening is an indication of rapid tumor spreading.
Treatments of pleural Mesothelioma:
Standard treatments of pleural mesothelioma are surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Furthermore, each method has its own effects.
Initial stage patients can be treated with surgery. The goal of surgery is the removal of tumor or cancerous tissue. For instance, any surgery method can be effective. But it depends upon the stage of tumor.
Two types of surgeries include:
1. Extrapleural pneumonectomy:
This type of surgery removes the entire cancerous lung. This removal also includes diaphragm and pericardium (heart covering).
2. Radical Pleurectomy and decortication:
It involves the removal of only tumor and affected pleura (pleural lining). This treatment stops further spreading of tumor.
2. Radiation Therapy:
Bombarding targeted radiations on the cancerous part reduces the size of tumor. It cannot treat pleural mesothelioma, but can reduce chest pain. Radiation therapy also stops emerging of cancer after surgery.
External beam therapy is the most common radiation therapy. It can be easily performed to cure pleural mesothelioma. It is painless, and take only a few minutes to perform. So, it is the most efficient method to use after surgery.
Chemotherapy uses targeted drugs that reduces tumor size. Usually carboplatin and pemetrexed combination stops tumor from reproducing. Although success rate is low, but it is better to treat first stage mesothelioma.
Prognosis or life expectancy of pleural mesothelioma patients is as follows:
First stage: Patients with stage 1 tumor usually survive 12 months after diagnosis.
Second stage: In the same way, patients with stage 2 tumor usually survive 16 months after diagnosis
Third stage: Similarly, patients with stage 3 pleural mesothelioma usually survive 19 months after diagnosis.
Fourth stage: Likewise, patients with stage 4 survive 21 months after diagnosis.
In addition to that, life expectancy period may vary according to the age of patient.Usually, young patients survival rate is greater than old people.
To conclude, complete treatment of Pleural mesothelioma is not yet discovered. But maintaining environmental hygiene, and healthy lifestyle is a great way to prevent pleural mesothelioma. Above all, avoid asbestos exposure as it is the main cause of tumor spreading.