Mesothelioma is a cancerous tumor that originates inside the mesothelium. The mesothelium is a layer of tissues, a membrane, that is known to cover the organs of the chest, abdomen, and pelvis. Mesothelioma usually occurs in the chest cavities, the lungs’ lining, and abdomen. Though it becomes malignant, it starts spreading and damaging the nearby cells.
Here are some common facts about mesothelioma to help you understand it better:
1. The Cause of Mesothelioma Is Asbestos
The cause of mesothelioma is usually the inhalation of asbestos fibers and its excessive exposure. Asbestos comprises microscopic filaments that can readily enter the lungs and become lodged, causing long-term harm to the lungs. Asbestos fibers are inhaled and move to the ends of narrow air passageways, where they can induce inflammation and scarring in the pleura. It may cause DNA damage and alterations in cells, resulting in rampant cell growth.
People using asbestos products or working in the asbestos industries are most likely prone to have mesothelioma due to its exposure. For this purpose, luckily, the asbestos companies have set up trust funds that can cater to the mesothelioma victims and provide them a compensation option for the damage. The trusts’ objective is to set money away for potential asbestos claims and help those suffering from mesothelioma.
2. Four Types Of Mesothelioma
There are four forms of mesothelioma, depending on where the tumor is located: pleural, peritoneal, pericardial, and testicular mesothelioma. Pleural mesothelioma, for example, is cancer that develops in the lining of the lungs’ pleura. It is the most frequent, accounting for 75% of all cases. Peritoneal mesothelioma affects the abdominal cavity lining and is the second most common mesothelioma. It happens 20% of the time.
On the other hand, pericardial mesothelioma is a malignancy of the heart’s soft tissues. And, as the name implies, testicular mesothelioma develops in the lining of the testes. The latter two are uncommon, accounting for only 2% of all cases. All these types have their distinct prognosis and diagnosis with different treatments.
3. The Symptoms Show Up After Decades
Mesothelioma symptoms usually appear gradually over time. They don’t show up until several decades following asbestos exposure. In most cases, they occur 10 to 50 years after asbestos exposure. It happens when tumors expand, develop, and feels tight against the chest wall and the abdominal cavity.
In pleural mesothelioma, the symptoms are shortness of breath, chest pain, fatigue, persistent dry cough, and loss of appetite. While in peritoneal mesothelioma, it includes constipation, diarrhea, fever, and loss of appetite.
4. Life Expectancy is of 12 to 22 months.
The average life expectancy of patients with mesothelioma is a year or two after diagnosis. Sometimes, a bit more or less depending on various circumstances, this can greatly vary. The type and location of the disease, the stage at diagnosis, overall patient health, and treatment options all affect the life expectancy of people diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma. Surgery, chemotherapy, and other treatments can extend a patient’s life by months or even years if they have mesothelioma.
5. Most Victims are Men
Three out of four victims of mesothelioma are men. They are substantially more likely to develop mesothelioma than women because more men work in industries and occupations with a high risk of asbestos exposure. Construction workers, insulation workers, asbestos miners, factory employees, and military personnel are most likely to get exposed to this toxin over extended periods. On the other hand, women have a three-fold higher survival rate than men as they are less likely to work in such fields.
6. It Has A Long Latency Period
The latency period refers to the time it requires for a disease to grow after its exposure. The amount of asbestos exposure a person has had is a major element in establishing the latency period in mesothelioma. The shorter a person’s latency time is, the longer they have been exposed to asbestos. Though the usual latency period for mesothelioma is 35 to 40 years, it can take 10 to 30 years for a patient to show symptoms after having excessive asbestos exposure.
7. Biopsy Is The Key Diagnostic Tool
The diagnostic process may include a variety of tests like imaging scans, like MRI and CT scans can help detect malignant lesions in mesothelioma testing. But the most important mesothelioma test for confirming a diagnosis is a biopsy. The tissue samples let doctors determine the type and stage of cancer cells, allowing them to build a more accurate treatment strategy and procedure. A thoracoscopy is the most precise biopsy procedure for mesothelioma.
8. Treatments Include Chemotherapy
Chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery are common therapies for mesothelioma. Early-stage mesothelioma patients can be frequently treated with surgery, but this treatment may not be appropriate for patients in the final stages of their illness.
According to a study in 2017, chemotherapy combined with surgery and radiation for pleural mesothelioma patients can boost overall survival to 29 months. Patients with mesothelioma who do not receive treatment usually live for six months after being diagnosed.
There is still a lot to know about mesothelioma prognosis, though it might be challenging to process all of the information contained in a mesothelioma prognosis. Understanding a few key phrases, on the other hand, can make things a lot easier for the victims and their families.