A form of cancer that mainly affects the mesothelium, or a thin membrane found on the inner surfaces of the chest wall, is called mesothelioma. The mesothelium surrounds the vital organs located within these areas such as the intestines, lungs, and abdomen. According to researchers, it is more common for individuals to acquire this form of cancer in the chest area than in the abdominal cavity. In fact, 1 in every 12 patients suffers from cancer in the peritoneum than in the pleural membranes.
Symptoms of the Disease
It may take a number of years of being exposed to harmful components such as asbestos before mesothelioma can occur. Based on studies, the length of time is between 15 to 45 years, which is also referred to as the latency period. During the early stages of the disease, most patients discover small lumps in the affected areas, although these do not come with symptoms nor will they be visible in CT scans and xrays.
As the disease progresses, patients will experience typical symptoms including sweating, poor appetite, tiredness, and loss of weight. Moreover, some people suffering from this disease may feel breathless, while others may be prone to chest pains. Breathlessness is mainly due to a number of factors. For instance, the pleura thickens over time, and this will restrict the passing of air in the lungs, as well as its expansion. The pain may extend to the other tissues surrounding the pleura such as the bone and nerves. Additionally, fluid tends to accumulate in spaces between the layers of the pleural membrane, which can also restrict proper breathing. Other patients may also suffer from altered voice and frequent cough, while some people may experience pain and swelling in the abdomen.
Facts about the Causes
In 9 out of 10 cases of the disease, the main cause is asbestos exposure. There are also other causes of the disorder, although these are somewhat rare. Typically, airborne fibers or asbestos dust cause harm to the body when it is ingested or inhaled. The materials left undisturbed are usually harmless. On the other hand, asbestos fibers that are fine and inhaled can affect the smallest portions of the lungs. These materials tend to accumulate and impair a person’s normal breathing patterns. Then, the natural defence mechanisms of the lungs break down, and this can lead to swelling in the surrounding portions of the organ. Moreover, the fibers are likely to penetrate the edges of the lungs and remain in the pleural linings.
Individuals who have been frequently exposed to asbestos are usually at risk with this disease, and they should consult their doctor for further analysis of the medical condition. Furthermore, some people tend to suffer for a long time with their condition not being diagnosed or treated. Since the disease is not very easy to identify, intensive medical procedures are necessary to determine the final diagnosis. With early detection of mesothelioma, it is possible for patients to obtain the right treatment that will help improve the quality of their life and recover from the disease.
Disclaimer: The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this article. This article was written by a third party and its content reflects the views of the third party and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions or of Surviving Mesothelioma or Cancer Monthly.