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What are the symptoms of mesothelioma and how is it treated?

Writer : Dr. Naskan

Mesothelioma is a cancer of the mesothelium, which lines the insides of the body's organs. This is a cancerous condition that is potentially fatal.

Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that is considered to be aggressive, but it is extremely rare. The symptoms of this condition do not manifest themselves until decades after the patient has been exposed to asbestos. Patients with mesothelioma are typically between the ages of 60 and 80 when they are diagnosed.

Despite the fact that mesothelioma can be treated, the majority of cases are in an advanced stage, making treatment more difficult. As a result, it is critical to practice prevention and to have regular check-ups in order to avoid this condition.

Mesothelioma

types There are four different types of mesothelioma cancer, which are as follows:

  • This type of cancer, called pleural mesothelioma, is the most common type of mesothelioma. Pleural mesothelioma is a cancer that attacks the lining of the lung (pleura).
  • (Peritoneal mesothelioma) is a cancer of the lining of the abdominal cavity (peritoneum), and it is the most common type.
  • Pericardial mesothelioma (pericardial mesothelioma), which is a cancer of the heart organ's protective layer, is also known as pericardioma.
  • Tumor of the testicles (testicular mesothelioma), a cancer that attacks the protective layer covering the testicles or testicles, is one of the most common cancers of the testicles.

In addition to the types listed above, there is a type of benign mesothelioma that affects the lungs and chest cavity that is known as solitary fibrous tumor. This condition, on the other hand, is not included in the type of mesothelioma that will be discussed in this article.

Causes of Mesothelioma

Unfortunately, the cause of mesothelioma is not known with absolute certainty. Mesothelioma, on the other hand, is frequently associated with asbestos exposure or asbestos fibers. In the construction industry, asbestos is a mineral that is widely used for its heat resistance and fire resistance, which makes it a popular choice for roofing materials.

When asbestos is destroyed, whether during the mining process or during building renovations, fine fibers or dust are released. The fiber is extremely easy to inhale, and once inhaled, it enters and settles in the organs of the body, particularly in the lungs.

If asbestos fibers are swallowed, they can spread through the lymphatic system, where they can eventually settle and cause cancer in the lining of the abdominal cavity (peritoneum).

Risk factors for mesothelioma

Mesothelioma can affect anyone, but the risk is higher in those who have one or more of the following risk factors:

  • Employed in fields where asbestos exposure is a possibility, such as mineral mines, construction sites, the automotive industry, power generation, textile manufacturing, and steel mills
  • Living in old buildings or in areas where asbestos is present in the soil is not recommended.
  • Family members who work in an environment where asbestos is present, resulting in asbestos dust being trapped on their skin or clothes, which is then transported back home.
  • Has a family member who has been diagnosed with mesothelioma or who has a genetic disorder that increases the likelihood of developing cancer.
  • Toxic exposure to the mineral erionite, as well as exposure to radiation from thorium dioxide, can result in Simian virus infection (SV40)

Symptoms of Mesothelioma

Melanoma progresses slowly, with symptoms appearing 20–60 years after the initial diagnosis. Consequently, when mesothelioma is in its early stages, patients may not experience any symptoms. The growth of cancer cells, on the other hand, will continue over time, pressing on nerves and other organs, resulting in symptoms.

It is dependent on which organs are affected by mesothelioma as to what symptoms are experienced. Among the symptoms of pulmonary mesothelioma are the following:

  • Fever and sweating, especially at night; the body appears to be exhausted.
  • Cough with excruciating discomfort
  • It is difficult to breathe because of fluid accumulation in the lungs.
  • Weight loss that appears to have no apparent cause
  • Pain in the chest
  • Hoarseness
  • Difficulty Swallowing
  • Suffering from shoulder or upper arm pain
  • Fingertip swelling or changes in the shape of the fingers are common (clubbing fingers)
  • A lump appears in the tissue beneath the surface of the chest's skin surface.

Abscess (peritoneal) mesothelioma can manifest itself in the following ways:

  • Feeling sick to your stomach or having night sweats
  • The inability to eat.
  • Loss of a few pounds
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Experiencing stomach discomfort
  • Vomiting and nausea are common side effects.
  • Bulges or swelling in the abdominal region.
  • Constipation and urination are impaired.

A very rare type of mesothelioma, pericardial and testicular is a malignancy of the heart and testicles. While pericardial mesothelioma is typically associated with symptoms such as chest pain and difficulty breathing, testicular mesothelioma is characterized by swelling or lumps in the testicular area.

When to see a doctor

The symptoms of mesothelioma can be mistaken for those of other diseases or conditions. As a result, if you experience any of the symptoms listed above, you should seek medical attention immediately, especially if you have a history of asbestos exposure.

Mesothelioma Diagnosis

In order to make a diagnosis of mesothelioma, the doctor will ask questions about the patient's symptoms and medical history, with a particular emphasis on the possibility that the patient had been exposed to asbestos. A physical exam will also be performed in order to detect lumps or other symptoms that may be present.

In order to confirm the diagnosis, the doctor will perform scans such as the ones listed below:

  • Diagnostic imaging techniques such as X-rays are used to detect thickening or fluid in the pleural cavity, as well as changes in the shape of the lungs.
  • The use of a CT scan to examine the chest and abdomen area, detect the presence of cancer, and determine whether cancer has spread to other organs of the body is recommended. The use of a PET scan to obtain a detailed image of the tissue suspected of having cancer is recommended.
  • Imaging with magnetic resonance (MRI) to obtain a more detailed picture of the organs and to locate the tumor

In addition, based on the results of the test, the doctor may recommend additional tests in the form of:

Blood

In the blood, the test detects high levels of fibulin-3, osteopontin, and peptides, among other things. People who have mesothelioma typically have higher levels of these three substances in their blood.

Examination of fluid samples

If the patient has fluid accumulation in the body as a result of mesothelioma, the doctor will take a sample of the fluid and send it to a laboratory for testing to determine whether or not cancer cells are present in the fluid.

There are several types of fluid sample examination, the most common of which are as follows:

  • Thoracentesis is a procedure in which a sample of fluid from the chest cavity is taken.
  • Paracentesis is a procedure in which fluid from the abdominal cavity is removed.
  • Pericardiocentesis is a procedure in which fluid from the lining (membrane) surrounding the heart is removed.

Biopsy

A biopsy is a procedure in which tissue samples are taken from specific body parts and then analyzed in a laboratory. There are several different types of biopsy examinations, including the following:

1. Needle

biopsy An abdominal or chest needle biopsy is performed by inserting a long needle into the chest or abdomen.

2. Thoracoscopy, laparoscopy, and mediastinoscopy

An elastic tube containing a camera and special surgical instruments is introduced into the body through one or more small incisions, and the biopsy is carried out. The type of biopsy that is performed is determined by the area of the body that is being examined, and these are as follows:

  • Thoracoscopy is a procedure that is used to examine the inside of the chest.
  • Laparoscopy is a procedure that is used to examine the inside of the abdominal organs.
  • Mediastinoscopy is a procedure that is used to examine the area around the heart.

3. Surgical biopsy

In some cases, the doctor will perform an invasive procedure in order to obtain a larger sample of tissue in order to confirm the diagnosis with certainty. If it is possible, doctors can also remove the entire tumor at the same time.

There are two types of surgical biopsy procedures, namely, excisional biopsy and needle biopsy.

  • Thoracotomy is a surgical procedure that is performed through open chest surgery.
  • Laparotomy is an abdominal surgery procedure that is performed through an open incision.

4. Bronchoscopy

biopsy Tumors in the respiratory tract are detected using this biopsy, which is performed by inserting a thin tube through the mouth and throat. If there is a tumor, the doctor will remove a sample of tissue from the tumor for further examination.

Stages of Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is classified into four stages based on the size and extent of the tumor's spread. This division of cancer staging assists doctors in determining the progression of cancer cells and the patient's life expectancy, as well as the most appropriate treatment method for each patient.

People who have mesothelioma go through the following stages and have a short life expectancy:

  • Stage 1
    The tumor is still contained within a single area of the body and has not spread to any other tissues or organs yet. As of this point, the patient's expected life span is at least 21 months.
  • Stage 2
    In this stage, cancer cells grow in size and begin to spread to nearby areas. The patient's life expectancy is 19 months or less after diagnosis.
  • Stage 3
    Cancer cells have spread to the surrounding organs, and the patient's life expectancy is approximately 16 months at this point.
  • Stage 4
    By traveling through the bloodstream, cancer cells have spread to various locations throughout the body. At this point, the patient's life expectancy is extremely low, ranging from 12 months to a few months.

Mesothelioma Treatment Mesothelioma

is a type of malignant cancer that cannot be treated or cured. The goal of treatment is to alleviate the patient's symptoms while also increasing his or her life expectancy. The following factors are taken into consideration when determining the treatment method:

  • The patient's age and overall health condition are taken into consideration.
  • Cancer's type and location are important considerations.
  • The extent to which cancer has spread and the size of the tumor

In light of the foregoing considerations, doctors may recommend one or more of the following treatment procedures:

1. Chemotherapy

Treatment with chemotherapy involves the administration of drugs to cancer cells in order to kill or inhibit their proliferation. This therapy can be used either before surgery to shrink cancer cells so that they can be removed more easily, or after surgery to reduce the risk of the cancer returning after the surgery is completed.

2. Radiotherapy

Radiotherapy, also known as radiation therapy, is performed by directing X-rays or proton beams at cancerous tumors on the body's surface. This treatment is usually performed after surgery in order to remove any remaining cancer cells.

Radiotherapy can also be used to relieve the symptoms of advanced cancer in patients who are unable to have their cancer surgically removed.

3. Surgery

When mesothelioma is detected early, it is possible to perform operations. There are a variety of surgical procedures that doctors can perform, including:

  • An operation to remove as many cancer cells from the patient's body as is reasonably possible. In order to relieve pain while also inhibiting cancer growth, radiotherapy can be used in conjunction with chemotherapy.
  • Aspiration surgery is performed to remove fluid from the chest that is interfering with breathing. It is possible that this procedure will be accompanied by pleurodesis, which is an injection of medication into the chest to prevent fluid from accumulating once more in the body.
  • Treatment with surgery to remove cancer-bearing tissue from around the abdominal cavity, the ribs, and the lungs.
  • The affected lung and surrounding tissue are removed during surgery. Following this procedure, radiotherapy is usually administered.

4. Multimodality therapy

Combining three or more different treatment modalities, such as surgery, postoperative chemotherapy, and radiation therapy, in order to increase the success rate of the treatment.

As part of the treatment process, the doctor will recommend that the patient follow certain recommendations, including the following:

  • When experiencing symptoms of difficulty breathing, breathing exercises can help you to maintain control over your breathing.
  • Relaxation exercises for the body to relieve tension in the muscles of the respiratory tract, allowing for easier breathing.

Complications of Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma that has grown or spread can put pressure on the organs or tissues in the surrounding area. This can result in a variety of complications.

Complications that can occur in patients with pleural mesothelioma include:

  • Breathing is difficult for you.
  • Pain in the chest
  • Having trouble swallowing
  • Due to pressure on the nerves and spinal cord, there is pain.
  • Pleural effusion is a medical term that refers to an accumulation of fluid in the lungs.

Meanwhile, intestinal obstruction caused by peritoneal mesothelioma can manifest itself as nausea, vomiting, constipation, and a loss of appetite or a feeling of being full quickly.

Mesothelioma Prevention

The most effective method of preventing mesothelioma is to avoid contact with anything that contains asbestos in the first place. If you work in an environment where there is a high risk of asbestos exposure, you should adhere to the safety regulations established by your employer, such as the following:

  • When working in an environment where asbestos exposure is a possibility, it is necessary to wear personal protective equipment.
  • residual asbestos material should be disposed of in a safe manner that does not harm the surrounding environment.
  • Performing

Apart from that, there are several other things that can be done to lower the risk of developing mesothelioma, including:

  • regularly scheduled health examinations to detect symptoms or signs of diseases linked to asbestos exposure
  • Quit smoking because it increases your risk of developing a variety of cancers, including mesothelioma.
  • Follow the manufacturer's instructions for handling asbestos safely.

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