Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma - Symptoms, Prognosis And Treatment OptionsMalignant Pleural Mesothelioma - Symptoms, Prognosis And Treatment Options

Malignant pleural mesothelioma is a form of cancer, relatively rare in occurrence. It develops in the mesothelium, which is the lining that protects most of the body's internal organs. The outer lining of the lungs, called the pleura is the commonly affected area. The heart and its surrounding sac are also particularly vulnerable to this type of cancer.

What causes malignant pleural mesothelioma? Studies have shown that most people who contract the disease have had previous work experience in jobs that involve the frequent inhalation of or exposure to asbestos fiber or dust. The family members of those doing such jobs are also at risk, because the fibers and dust are bought into the family home. There have been a few cases, however, wherein it was observed in people who had never been exposed to asbestos. So, do not assume that you are 100% safe just because you have never been exposed to asbestos.

What are the symptoms of malignant pleural mesothelioma? Shortness of breath, cough and chest pain are the most prominent symptoms. Fluid building up in the lungs is what causes such symptoms. There also may be fatigue, anemia, wheezing, hoarseness, or blood in the sputum or coughed-out fluid. If it gets to an extreme case, tumors may be present, and cause the lung to collapse or the condition to spread to other parts of the body. Signs and symptoms usually appear twenty to fifty years after exposure to asbestos.

How is a diagnosis made? Malignant pleural mesothelioma can be spotted early through a CT scan or chest x-ray. A biopsy or microscopic exam are normally used as a follow up to confirm that the condition is present.

What are the treatment options? You can opt for surgery, which operates by removing the cancerous part, chemotherapy, which employs the use of drugs to combat the cancer, and radiation therapy, which uses rays with high energy to target and kill the cancerous cells. When it comes to surgery, a patient can choose between pleurectomy or extrapleural pneumonectomy. The former is for those with the disease in the first two stages. It aims to remove all the tumors in their entirety. Usually, the best solution is to combine the surgery with other procedures such as immunotherapy, gene therapy, or photodynamic therapy.

If you are considering extrapleural pneumonectomy, you have to be a good candidate for it. Not all patients are advised to take this option. You will have to consult your doctor for advice if you fit the patient selection criteria. You must pass the liver function and renal function tests because it is not advised to go through with the procedure if you have liver or kidney disease.

If you are unfortunate enough to have developed malignant pleural mesothelioma, then you need to take action as soon as possible. The quicker action is taken, the better the chance of overcoming the disease. With early action, and the right action, you have a real chance of surviving. Those who typically die from this disease are those who ignore the symptoms for too long.
by Mark Thomas Walters
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