What is Mesothelioma
You must have heard about Pleural Mesothelioma, you may have not heard about it, but you must have heard about the chest pains. It could be Mesothelioma or something associated with it, Mesothelioma has not been talked about intensively but it is in existence and has caused death in various parts of the world.
Tentatively, you may have had an opportunity to get in contact with Asbestos, you may have used it too, and it is the major cause of Pleural Mesothelioma. In this article, you will get more information regarding this rarely talked about condition, more importantly, what to do when you have similar symptoms, control and management.
Mesothelioma may sound new but a common ailment; it is a type of an infrequent cancer that affects the layers of the interior body organs. To be precise, it is commonly known to be found in the thin layers of lungs and biologically referred to as the pleural thus, medically described as “Pleural Mesothelioma”. Its name is derived from the parts that it mostly affects the thin lining of the lungs known as the “Mesothelium” hence pleural Mesothelioma.
It does not only affect the lungs, the other parts that are known to be prone to be affected by Mesothelioma include Peritoneum and Pericardium. There is a misconception about Mesothelioma, in most cases is confused with other abdominal diseases because they do share common symptoms and rarely does a doctor and health professionals discover it, this leads to victims or patients of Pleural Mesothelioma going for wrong prescriptions due to the confusion and unsuspecting medical and cancer professionals.
Causes of Mesothelioma
The major causative agent of the disease or the condition is Asbestos. It is estimated that more than 90% of the disease is caused by extreme exposure to Asbestos. What asbestos is before getting into details of the ailment? Asbestos is a combination of about six naturally occurring minerals in the form of fiber. They have one characteristic that is unique from other minerals, the ability to resist fire; it means it cannot be burnt down easily.
For those people who work with asbestos, who live with people working in asbestos mining, washing clothes of someone working in an asbestos industry, exposure to products manufactured from Asbestos and working or leaving in premises containing Asbestos; should be able to go for medical checkups frequently to be sure that they are fine with their body organs.
It does not mean that Mesothelioma cannot occur in other parts of the body, it will occur but in rare circumstances. Some of the parts that one can be affected by the ailment include the lining of the abdomen, sac surrounding the heart and sac surrounding the testis. The occurrence of the disease has been gradually increasing since 1950s due to the fact that the usage of asbestos has been in the increase over the years.
Global Statistical Analysis and Fatalities
It is also estimated that in the year 2017, approximately 65,000 people had Pleural Mesothelioma and a half of them died of the disease. In 2013, the people who had been exposed to Asbestos were 130 million in total. Mesothelioma was first discovered in the year 1785, just after a few years when people started using Asbestos for building and the mining of the mineral.
According to the available medical literature, the disease or rather the condition is an exceptional type of cancer and dates back to the days when it had not been discovered. The person behind its discovery is known as Joseph Lieutaud, and he noted that the disease occurs as a formation of unwanted or dead cells in the Pleural.
The pleural is the lining of the cells, and as mentioned earlier, it can occur in the Peritoneum which is the lining of the abdomen, and the Pericardium which is the lining of the heart. In essence, the illness has been one of the diseases that have been so uncommon to the point where its diagnosis and research has not been done well simply because of the fact that its causative agent has been a rare mineral to many countries.
In this regard, it has been concluded that it is one of the rarest types of cancer, but fatal. Therefore doctors and medical professionals have so far found the causative agents of the illness; they have determined those who are at risk, Preventative measures, diagnosis and prognosis of the disease. However, it is critical to mention that the disease can be controlled, and reversing can be possible if it is earlier detected.
Types of Pleural Mesothelioma
The classification of Pleural Mesothelioma is based on the location that the tumor is likely to grow, this means that it will be found in specific areas that have a potential habitat for the tumor to grow. The linings of some of the organs in the human body are containing “Mesothelium”.
Every part of the body that has the Mesothelium lining is a potential place for the tumor to develop. As discussed below, the parts or the organs of the body contain the same lining. For instance, Pleural Mesothelioma affects the lungs because the Pleural is a tissue lining found in the lungs, Pericardial Mesothelioma for the heart and Peritoneal Mesothelioma of the abdomen, the following are some of the known types of Pleural Mesothelioma;
1. Peritoneal Mesothelioma
It is also known as the Abdominal Mesothelioma, this is because it affects the abdomen in most case thus the name. The most common symptoms of this type of Cancer are Pain in the Abdomen, pain in the other organs found in the Abdomen like the spleen and the Liver.
Another common symptom associated with it is abdominal effusion, fluid buildup in the abdomen which leads to uneasiness. The results of the prognosis will depend on individual patients, however, of late; the methodology used for its diagnosis has been improved this is due to the introduction of Hyperthermic Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy.
2. Pericardial Mesothelioma
As the name suggests, it mainly affects the pericardium, Pericardium, is the heart lining. Pericardial Mesothelioma symptoms are similar to those of a cardiac arrest, basically, difficulty in the breath, shortness in breathing and pain in the chest are the most common types of symptoms for this type of Mesothelioma.
Pericardial Mesothelioma is also another rare type and according to diagnostic statistics, for every 10 cases of Mesothelioma, 1 to 2 cases are found to be Pericardial Mesothelioma. As it goes on, Pericardial Mesothelioma makes the heart not to perform its functions optimally and this makes it almost impossible for the heart to supply oxygen to all the other parts of the body as required hence lead to other health complications.
3. Testicular Mesothelioma
Testicular Pleural Mesothelioma is a rare type of Mesothelioma, it accounts for 2% of all the incidences of the disease meaning that it is not commonly known to the doctors and cancer professionals. In this concept, little has been done about the disease and much is yet to be done. Therefore there is no exact information on the cause and the preventative measures of the disease as of now.
Mesothelioma can also be categorized by the type of tumor
Mesothelioma can also be categorized by the type of tumor, this can sound technical but it can only be understood by the cancer professionals who have had a vast knowledge of tumors. The distinguishing factor under this category of classification of Mesothelioma under tumor types is base on the findings whether the tumor is malignant or not malignant. A malignant tumor is that which has been proven to fatal and if left it can be dangerous to the victim hence the name Malignant Mesothelioma.
The other one which is the opposite of the latter is not harmful but demands for it control so that it does not grow or develop to unmanageable or to the level of transforming to malignant tumor. It mainly affects the lining of the lungs, the Pleural hence the name Pleural Mesothelioma. It is common in the lungs because that is the organ in the body that links the external environment and external environment in terms of the quality of oxygen taken in by an individual.
It is also one of the worst in diagnosis because the symptoms of the disease are always soft in their initial stages but become severe they get elevated to other stages, this is the time when patients seek help and treatment become complicated. It is also a fact that Mesothelioma develops, and by the time it is discovered it is already malignant, the malignancy process is gradually developed if not diagnosed in time. In this case, this is not leeway to lose hope, there is still hope and the treatment can be done.
Advancements in the Treatment of Mesothelioma
Chemotherapy is one of the methods that doctors apply in the control of cancer in general, and as mentioned earlier, in the past, research was being conducted to make it possible to understand the disease, improvements have been made to understand better ways of treatment and diagnosis. Chemotherapy has since then be improved to make survival of Mesothelioma patients longer and also improve the quality of their lives.
On the other hand, the doctors are also improving their confidence in the control of the disease as they add more effective drugs along with chemotherapy. Combination Chemotherapy is the latest advancement where it introduces the combination of Cisplatin to chemotherapy hence increasing the chances of remission in patients with Testicular Mesothelioma and also prolongs survival periods up to 96%.
Thirty years ago, 94% of Testicular Mesothelioma patients died within a year, but after the introduction of the new combination Chemotherapy on board, it has proven to be effective and has raised the long-term survival in Testicular Mesothelioma patients to 78%.
The multimodal therapy combines Surgical, Chemotherapy and Radiation which has made it possible for Mesothelioma victims to survive for a long time to more than 6 years. This is one of the latest methods of treating and controlling Mesothelioma. There are different types of patients in this regard, in the past, patients with Mesothelioma were treated according to their cases, for instance, there were patients who were considered fit for chemotherapy and others for radiation, Patients who have confirmed not to be fit for a surgery to remove the Mesothelioma tumor are considered to be fit for other methods of treatment and most preferably best for Multimodal Therapy.
This is another breakthrough where doctors have recorded trials that have proved to be of benefit in eradicating the issue of Mesothelioma in the globe. It is a promising method of dealing with Mesothelioma; having located the position of Mesothelioma Tumor, the doctor can deliver genes in the Pleural lining hence make it possible and easier to monitor the tumor and the treatment.
By the use of Suicidal Gene Therapy Technique, doctors will be able to concentrate on Mesothelioma cells rather than the rapidly growing cells in the entire body this is considered to work best on Peritoneal. Generally, the basis of this technique is the instruction of a virus that activates Ganciclovir that in the long run causes the infected cell to die; the virus released is associated with an enzyme.
Support for Victims of Mesothelioma
There is much that involves when you are diagnosed with Mesothelioma. If you happen to be either a victim of Mesothelioma or a caregiver for Mesothelioma victims, it is imperative to note that, once you have started involving in any of the mentioned activities life may take another direction altogether.
This should not be a worry; this statement basically means that as a caregiver you will realize that there is much to be done away from the day to day life activities. For the victims, life activities will revolve around trying to find out means to initiate remission.
As a victim of Mesothelioma, you have to know that the first thing that will come to your mind is the fact that you will want to learn more about the disease, the second thing that you will find yourself concentrating upon is the fact that you will try to get information from doctors on how to manage and live so as to improve your life quality and reduce the effects of the disease in your life.
The stress is an accelerator of death associated with Mesothelioma. In other words, stress among other factors there leads a Mesothelioma patient to seek and join support groups or organizations. Some of the reasons have been mentioned, but the precise reason for joining the support groups is to let the patient get more information regarding treatment, control, prevention and management.
Benefits of Joining a Mesothelioma Support Organization
There are several benefits for joining a Mesothelioma support organization, when a patient gets to mingle with the people that have a common problem or a problem that is similar to each other, they are in the best position to get ideas on the ways to deal and manage the problem. Common benefits of joining a Mesothelioma support group include the following;
- You will get bits of advice on how to manage your life and live a satisfying life with Mesothelioma hence the stress that is associated with the disease can easily be controlled.
- The aspect of interacting with Mesothelioma survivors will give you hope and lead to remission since you will be able to be encouraged by them and also eliminate the stigma associated with Mesothelioma.
- Once in the groups you will get encouragement, and get hope that everything is going to be fine, in essence, you will have your hope renewed.
- From the patient’s experience, you will be able to get information on the side effects of the Mesothelioma treatments like surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy, all their procedure do have their own side effects and when in the support group you will get all this information from the specialists and you will be prepared mentally and psychologically for the side effects if any will come your way. It is imperative to note also that, the side effects from the treatments do vary from one victim to another; the side effect that you will experience may not necessarily be the same as those being experienced by the other patients.
- Advice on the methodology on how to deal with emotional changes linked to Mesothelioma Cancer.
Frequently asked Questions about Mesothelioma
Why does Mesothelioma cause pleural effusion?
From a medical point of view, effusion basically means the aspect of fluid escaping from the blood vessels the tissue or cavities. Other words that can be used in place of effusion are exudation and transudation. In respect to Mesothelioma, effusion occurs when the lungs are infected by the tumor growth in the pleural lining.
What does Mesothelioma do to the body?
When one is exposed to asbestos, they pile in the lungs and later on cause malignancy in cells hence make it possible for tumors to grow along the linings of the Abdomen, lungs, and heart, this basically will lead to difficulty in breathing and which is the first symptom of Pleural Mesothelioma. Once the Asbestos is in the body they start damaging the DNA and make cells to cancerous, and the Cancerous cells replicate so fast forming the tumor. The tumor grows to the point of covering some of the most important parts of the important organs of the abdomen hence causing discomfort and pain.
Can Mesothelioma be caused by smoking?
Smoking does not cause Pleural Mesothelioma but exposure to Asbestos does. Asbestos can cause Lung Cancer and Pleural Mesothelioma, but smoking can only cause Lung Cancer. In general, smoking does not cause Mesothelioma but can increase the risk of getting Lung Cancer. Additionally, the combination of the two (Asbestos and Smoking) increase the chances of getting or developing Lung Cancer.