What is mesothelioma cancer?
Mesothelioma cancer is a rare form of cancer (malignancy) that most frequently arises from the cells lining the sacs of the chest (the pleura) or the abdomen (the peritoneum). Mesothelioma (cancer of the mesothelium) is a disease in which cells of the mesothelium become abnormal and divide without control or order. They can invade and damage nearby tissues and organs. Cancer cells can also metastasize (spread) from their original site to other parts of the body. Most cases of
mesothelioma begin in the pleura or peritoneum. Most people who develop mesothelioma cancer have worked on jobs where they inhaled asbestos particles, or have been exposed to asbestos dust and fibre in other ways, such as by washing the clothes of a family member who worked with asbestos, or by home renovation using asbestos cement products.
The mesothelium is a membrane that covers and protects most of the internal organs of the body. It is composed of two layers of cells: One layer immediately surrounds the organ; the other forms a sac around it. The mesothelium produces a lubricating fluid that is released between these layers, allowing moving organs (such as the beating heart and the expanding and contracting lungs) to glide easily against adjacent structures. The mesothelium has different names, depending on its location in the body. The peritoneum is the mesothelial tissue that covers most of the organs in the abdominal cavity. The pleura is the membrane that surrounds the lungs and lines the wall of the chest cavity. The pericardium covers and protects the heart. The mesothelial tissue surrounding the male internal. The mesothelium helps protect the organs by producing a special lubricating fluid that allows organs to move around. For example, this fluid makes it easier for the lungs to move inside the chest during breathing. The mesothelium of the chest is called the pleura and the mesothelium of the abdomen is known as the peritoneum. The mesothelium of the pericardial cavity (the "sac-like" space around the heart) is called the pericardium. Mesothelioma occurs when these cells grow and spread uncontrollably. Beginning first as a flat white plaque, mesothelioma is a tumor that continues to grow around the lungs (pleurae), but may also originate around the abdominal cavity. As mesothelioma progresses, it enters the lungs and invades nearby ribs.
Most cases of malignant mesothelioma cancer are caused by exposure to asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral that was used in a variety of industries. Irritant dust particles present in some work environments or homes can cause chronic lung disease, generally called pneumoconiosis. The type of pneumoconiosis caused by asbestos fibers is called asbestosis. Asbestos is a mineral fiber that was commonly added to many products in the past to strengthen them, as well as to provide heat insulation and fire resistance. Asbestos in a home or building is not hazardous until it becomes damaged over time, releasing asbestos fibers into the air. Breathing in these fibers can cause scarring in the lungs and gradual destruction of the lung tissue. Over time, asbestos may trigger the development of mesothelioma. A small percentage of cases have been linked to exposure to a mineral silicate called zeolite or to a type of radiation contrast dye (Thorotrast) that was used before 1960 to help blood vessels show up on X-rays. In a few cases, the cause is unknown. People exposed to asbestos for a long time or exposed to high levels have an increased risk of developing malignant mesothelioma, but even people exposed for a very short time can develop this disease. The disease develops at least 15 years (typically 20 to 40 years) after exposure to asbestos. People usually are diagnosed with this disease between ages 50 to 70. More men than women get this cancer, probably because men are more likely to have worked in the industries that use asbestos.
Tumors of the mesothelium can be benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous). A malignant tumor of the mesothelium is called a malignant mesothelioma. Because most mesothelial tumors are cancerous, malignant mesothelioma is often simply called mesothelioma. There are three main types of malignant mesothelioma: epithelial mesothelioma, sarcomatoid mesothelioma and mixed mesothelioma. The epithelial type is the most common. Malignant mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that can originate in several areas of the body, but most commonly in the visceral pleura of the lungs. There are about 2,200 new cases of malignant mesothelioma of the visceral pleura each year. Mesothelioma is difficult to diagnose and is rarely curable. The most common symptoms are dyspnea and chest wall pain.
Mesothelioma cancer is serious and potentially life-threatening. Survival of patients with mesothelioma is usually short if effective treatment is not found, especially those with tumors that can be shown to be growing aggressively. Because mesothelioma has usually spread throughout the pleural or peritoneal cavity before the diagnosis is made, complete surgical removal is only rarely possible. Moreover, mesothelioma is not as sensitive to radiation therapy or chemotherapy as are many other tumors.
More information on mesothelioma cancer
What is mesothelioma cancer? - Mesothelioma (cancer of the mesothelium) is a disease in which cells of the mesothelium become abnormal and divide without control or order.
What types of mesothelioma are there? - Mesotheliomas consist of two general types-benign and malignant. Malignant mesothelioma is a cancerous tumor of the pleura.
What is pleural mesothelioma? - Pleural mesothelioma is a cancer of the cells that make up the pleura or lining around the outside of the lungs and inside of the ribs.
What is peritoneal mesothelioma? - Peritoneal mesothelioma is a cancer affecting the abdominal lining, or peritoneum. Peritoneal mesothelioma is a tumor of this membrane.
What is malignant mesothelioma? - Malignant mesothelioma is a cancer in which cancer (malignant) cells are found in the sac lining the chest (the pleura) or abdomen (the peritoneum).
What causes mesothelioma? - Asbestos exposure is the main cause of mesothelioma. The chances of suffering from mesothelioma rise with the intensity and duration of exposure to asbestos.
What're the risk factors for mesothelioma? - The main risk factors for malignant mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos. Other risk factors include radiation, zeolite, tobacco, and SV40 Virus.
Who's at increased risk for developing mesothelioma? - Family members and others living with asbestos workers have an increased risk of developing mesothelioma.
Asbestos and mesothelioma - Asbestosis, mesothelioma, and lung cancer are the three most frequent causes of death and disease among people with heavy asbestos exposure.
Where is asbestos found? - Asbestos has been widely used in many industrial products. Exposure to asbestos can occur in home improvement and construction projects.
When is asbestos dangerous? - Asbestos is hazardous when it is friable. The most common way for asbestos fibers to enter the body is through breathing.
How to reduce asbestos exposure? - Reducing exposure to asbestos by repairing damaged material will involve covering the material or sealing asbestos material.
What's the mesothelioma survival rate? - Mesothelioma is a serious disease. The average age at diagnosis is 50 to 70 years old. The average survival time is about one year.
What're the symptoms of mesothelioma? - Symptoms of mesothelioma include pain in the lower back or at the side of the chest, cough, fever, sweating, fatigue, and weight loss.
How is mesothelioma diagnosed? - Diagnosis of mesothelioma begins with a review of the patient's medical history, including any history of asbestos exposure.
How is mesothelioma staged? - Staging of mesothelioma is based on imaging studies such as x-rays, CT scans, and MRI scans. Malignant mesothelioma moves through four stages.
What's the treatment for mesothelioma? - Treatment for mesothelioma cancer include surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. Surgery is a common treatment for mesothelioma.
Treatment of malignant mesothelioma by stage - Most patients with stage I mesothelioma have their cancer surgically removed by pleurectomy/decortication or extrapleural pneumonectomy.
Surgery for mesothelioma - Surgery for malignant mesothelioma can be aimed at long-term control of the cancer (aggressive surgery) or relief of symptoms (palliative procedures).
Chemotherapy for mesothelioma - Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells. In mesothelioma, chemotherapy may be put directly into the chest.
Radiation therapy for mesothelioma - Radiation is useful because mesothelioma is made up of rapid growing cells and radiation is most effective on cells that divide rapidly.
How to prevent malignant mesothelioma? - The risk of malignant mesothelioma can be reduced by avoiding getting exposed to asbestos.
What's the prognosis of malignant mesothelioma? - The survival time after diagnosis of malignant mesothelioma is about one year. Prognosis for malignant mesothelioma depends on how early it is diagnosed.
What about the mesothelioma lawsuits? - Mesothelioma lawsuits are classified into two groups: personal injury, and wrongful death. Mesothelioma lawsuits usually seek compensation for medical costs.
Who is mesothelioma attorney (lawyer)? - The benefits of hiring a mesothelioma attorney are numerous. A mesothelioma lawyer is able to provide both advice and assistance.