Disease/Condition Specific

Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma
Have you ever seen those attorney commercials on tv about Mesothelioma and wonder what mesothelioma is?

Starting at the beginning,  mesothelium is a membrane of cells/tissue that covers some of your internal organs.

This type of cancer is rare, CDC (Centers for Disease Control) reports that in 2017 approximately 2,400 – 2,800 were diagnosed with this type of cancer.

 

As you would guess with cancer, this is when a specific tissue starts to replicate with reckless abandon. Malignant (A term for diseases in which abnormal cells divide without control and can invade nearby tissues ) mesothelioma has a reputation to be an aggressive cancer.

 

Mesothelioma is most commonly classified by the location in the body where it develops.  Mesothelioma typically develops mainly in one of three specific areas:  Lungs, abdomen, heart.

 

This type of cancer have been found people who have worked with or been exposed to asbestos have the highest risk of developing mesothelioma. After being exposed to asbestos, mesothelioma symptoms can take 20 – 50 years to appear.

What also factors with a prognosis (a forecast of the likely course of a disease or ailment) the patient’s overall health, age, and whether the cancer has spread also impact prognosis.

 

Researchers have found some factors that increase a person’s risk of mesothelioma.

 

  1. The biggest risk factor for mesothelioma is asbestos exposure- usually through work in shipyards, some miners, factory workers, insulation manufacturers and installers, railroad and automotive workers, plumbers, and construction workers.
  2. Family members of people exposed to asbestos at work can also be exposed because the workers can carry home asbestos fibers on their clothes.but asbestos fibers can be found in the soil and or in rocks in parts of the world.
  3. Expose to Zeolites – these particles are related chemically to asbestos- they have been found in specific regions of the world.
  4. Radiation has been thought to play a role – this is rare.  A few studies have shown people that have been exposed to radiation for other cancer treatments.
  5. Age & gender may play a role – according to the American Cancer Society 2 out of 3 people diagnosed with mesothelioma are 65 or older.  Younger people may be diagnosed, but it is reported to be very rare.  

 

Symptoms of mesothelioma can often mimic other issues or diseases, so early on, it is often misdiagnosed. Some of the symptoms people may experience are;

 

  • Shortness of breath
  • Swelling of your abdomen
  • Chest wall pain
  • Cough
  • Feeling tired
  • Weight loss

 

Treatment for mesothelioma is dependent on the area/type that is affected.  Some treatments are for supportive treatment- meaning they will help a person try to stay at a “same level”, kind of like holding a disease back from progressing.

 

Mesothelioma can be hard to treat because it typically does not grow as a single tumor mass. It tends to spread along nearby surfaces, nerves, and blood vessels.

 

More common treatments for mesothelioma are;

 

  • Surgery
  • Radiation
  • Chemotherapy
  • Photodynamic therapy –  a light activated drug is injected into the body, cancer cells tend to have a higher rate of absorption, a Dr. will expose these drugs to a specific light, causing them to activate and kill the cancer cells.
  • Complementary/Alternative medicine – acupuncture, hypnosis, meditation, massage therapy

 

In many cases, the doctor treating will use more than one option to treat this disease.

 

Complementary medicine as well as lifestyle changes – exercise, eating healthy may help to keep mesothelioma from progressing or reoccuring.

 

Sources: nih, american cancer society, cdc

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