Mesothelioma is a rare cancer that develops in the lining of the organs and internal body cavity, a membrane known as the mesothelium. The main cause of mesothelioma is prolonged exposure to asbestos, which has been used in the construction industry, shipbuilding, and even in vehicle brakes. The most common place inside the body where mesothelioma occurs is the outer lining of the lungs but it can also occur in the lining of the heart, the membrane of the abdominal cavity, and the tunica vaginalis. Mesothelioma was first recognized in the 18th century, but it wasn’t until the 20th century that the causes and characteristics of the disease were more fully understood.

Mesothelioma is an extremely aggressive and painful malignancy, causing pain and discomfort in locations such as the chest and abdomen. Other symptoms of the disease include blood in the patient's cough, fluid effusion in patient's lung, shortness of breath, fatigue and wheezing. If the cancer is not detected early enough, it could metastasize (spread to other organs in the body), and develop into extensive disease. The majority of mesothelioma cancers do not spread to the brain, bones, or the adrenal glands. Other signs and symptoms that many mesothelioma patients suffer from include any of the following:

  1. Pain in the chest or abdomen
  2. Weight loss
  3. Bowel obstruction
  4. Low blood sugar levels
  5. Blood clotting
  6. Jaundice
  7. Severe internal bleeding
Diagnosis of mesothelioma can be difficult for most medical professionals because the signs and symptoms are so closely related to those of other thoracic diseases and malignancies. Doctors will rely on the patient to provide them with any information regarding a working history with asbestos. Asbestos is a mineral that was used in a number of different industrial capacities as an insulation and durability component until being regulated in the late 1970s.

There are four types of mesothelioma: pleural (which accounts for 75 percent of all cases and surrounds the lining of the lungs), peritoneal (which forms in the lining of the abdominal cavity and accounts for roughly 10 to 20 percent of all cases), pericardial (which occurs in the membrane of the heart and occurs only in one to five percent of all cases) and testicular (which occurs in the lining around the testicles and is the rarest form, with only 100 cases ever recorded).

The three most common methods of treatment for mesothelioma include surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. Depending on the size of the tumor and the location, the patient may elect to use either one or more of these methods to effectively treat the disease. There is no cure for mesothelioma.


How Is Mesothelioma Treated?

How Is Mesothelioma Treated?

Most people who develop mesothelioma have worked on jobs where they inhaled asbestos particles. However, they may have been been exposed to asbestos dust and fibre in other ways. This could include working with asbestos or by home renovation using asbestos cement products or even by washing the clothes of a family member who worked with asbestos. The resulting disease is rare form of cancer in which malignant (cancerous) cells are found in the mesothelium, a protective sac that covers most of the body's internal organs.

Mesothelioma occurs more often in men than in women and risk increases with age, but this disease can appear in either men or women at any age. About 2,000 new cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed in the United States each year. Although reported incidence rates have increased in the past 20 years, mesothelioma is still a relatively rare cancer.

There are various procedures used for the treatment of mesothelioma. The type of treatment depends on the location of the cancer, the stage of the disease, and the patient's age and general health.

A common treatment of the disease is by means of surgery by the removal of part of the lining of the chest or abdomen and some of the tissue around it. For cancer of the pleura, a lung may be removed in an operation called a pneumonectomy. Sometimes part of the diaphragm, the muscle below the lungs that helps with breathing, is also removed.

Another method is Radiation therapy, also called radiotherapy. This involves the use of high-energy rays to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. Radiation therapy affects the cancer cells only in the treated area. The radiation may come from a machine or from putting materials that produce radiation through thin plastic tubes into the area where the cancer cells are found .

Anticancer drugs can be used to kill cancer cells throughout the body. This is known as chemotherapy and involves the administration of the drugs by injection into a vein (intravenous, or IV). Currently, doctors are also studying the effectiveness of putting chemotherapy directly into the chest or abdomen.

Because mesothelioma is very hard to control, the U.S. National Cancer Institute (NCI) is sponsoring clinical trials that are designed to find new treatments and better ways to use current treatments.

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New Drug for Mesothelioma

New Drug for Mesothelioma

The FDA recently approved a new drug used to treat malignant pleural mesothelioma, a rare cancer usually associated with asbestos exposure.

The drug is called Alimta, or pemetrexed disodium, and it's distributed by Eli Lilly and Company. Alimta is intended to be used along with cisplatin.

Only about 2,000 new cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed each year in the U.S. Patients live, on average, nine to thirteen months after diagnosis.

In a randomized clinical trial, patients receiving Alimta along with cisplatin lived an average of 12 months after the trial began, compared with nine months for those on cisplatin alone.

Alimta must be supplemented with vitamin B-12 and folic acid to decrease the incidence and severity of adverse effects.

Those effects include low white blood count, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, rash and diarrhea. Since the drug suppresses the bone marrow, patients are warned to report signs of infection, such as fever and chills

From FDA (USA)


Mesothelioma Screening

Mesothelioma Screening

If you or a family member has been exposed to asbestos knowingly either through work, home renovations, or otherwise, it is important to go and have a physical examination performed. Make sure you tell the doctor about the exposure and how long is it since it happened. If your exposure was all over in the last ten to fifteen years, it is quite possible that there is nothing show up in the physical examination. This is because asbestos-related diseases to incubate or dormant for many years tend. Early detection is very important for the hope of proper treatment. All asbestos workers in shipbuilding, asbestos mining and manufacturing are particularly vulnerable.

Particularly in the early stages of asbestos-related disease can be easily mistaken for other conditions. This makes it even more important to screen properly.

Screening involves several steps. The first step a doctor will do after collecting all the history and basic medical information, use a thora scope. This method is a thoracoscopy, which called a tiny incision in the chest contains. A sample of lung tissue to be removed, in order to determine whether it is cancerous. This procedure is usually performed in a hospital with a local anesthetic. It causes little to no pain. He can also be seen at a regular x-ray, if something unusual appears.

The second step involves a device called peritoneoscope. This device looks inside the abdomen and can collect tissue samples simultaneously. The doctor will also look for excess fluid. At that time, he has the ability to alleviate some of the excess liquid to drip off any pain.

Said third step of mesothelioma screening is to perform advanced steps when the previous were inconclusive. These advanced tests might be a computerized axial tomography (CAT) scan. This scan provides a three-dimensional x-ray of the tissue in question. This helps to see problem areas before they get worse.

A fourth step would order an MRI scan. The MRI uses high-energy magnetic fields as they take cross-sectional images of the internal organs and skeleton. By exploring the internal structure, it is easier to distinguish healthy from diseased tissue.

Both of the above scans are tools that identify physicians, problems long before a patient begins to show symptoms to help.

Even with the techniques available to date Mesothelioma often goes undetected. It is important in those who have had regular demonstrations prolonged exposure to asbestos has have. New research is underway. Finally, some useful treatment and even a cure will happen. If in the unfortunate circumstance you are diagnosed with mesothelioma or other asbestos-related diseases that you want in the best position to take advantage of new therapies and that means early for the best results.

Rick writes about health issues for over 12 years. He specializes in mesothelioma and asbestos-related diseases.


What is Mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma (or, more precisely, malignant mesothelioma) is a rare form of cancer that develops from cells of the mesothelium, the protective lining that covers many of the internal organs of the body. Mesothelioma is most commonly caused by exposure to asbestos. The most common anatomical site for mesothelioma is the pleura (the outer lining of the lungs and internal chest wall), but it can also arise in the peritoneum (the lining of the abdominal cavity), the pericardium (the sac that surrounds the heart),or the tunica vaginalis (a sac that surrounds the testis).

Most people who develop mesothelioma have worked in jobs where they inhaled or ingested asbestos fibers, or were exposed to airborne asbestos dust and fibers in other ways. Washing clothes of a family member who worked with asbestos also creates a risk for developing mesothelioma. Unlike lung cancer, there seems to be no association between mesothelioma and tobacco smoking, but smoking greatly increases the risk of other asbestos-induced cancers.

Signs and symptoms of mesothelioma include shortness of breath due to pleural effusion (fluid between the lung and the chest wall), chest wall pain, and constitutional signs such as unexplained weight loss. The diagnosis may be suspected based on chest X-ray and CT scan findings, but must be confirmed either by examining serous effusion cytology or with a biopsy (removing a sample of the suspicious tissue). A thoracoscopy (inserting a tube with a camera into the chest) can be used to acquire biopsy material, and allows the introduction of substances such as talc to obliterate the pleural space (a procedure called pleurodesis), preventing more fluid from accumulating and pressing on the lung. Despite treatment with chemotherapy, radiation therapy or sometimes surgery, mesothelioma carries a poor prognosis. Research about screening tests for the early detection of mesothelioma is ongoing.