Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that originates in the mesothelium. The mesothelium is a thin layer of flat cells that protect the body’s internal organs. Our body’s internal organs often require the ability to move within the chest and abdominal cavity. These are normal bodily motions of expansion and contraction. For organs to move freely in the body they require the lubrication of the mesothelium. Not only does it spread easily to other parts of the body, mesothelioma initiates within these areas, causing a serious health consequence to the normal body functions.
Among types of mesothelioma, there are generally three recognized forms in which it can manifest. The first and most common is malignant pleural mesothelioma, which develops in the pleural lining of the lung. The second and less common variety is malignant peritoneal mesothelioma, a cancer of the abdominal lining. The rarest form of mesothelioma is malignant pericardial mesothelioma, a cancer of the pericardial lining of the heart.
The only known cause for each of these three forms is exposure to asbestos. While there have been instances in which a patient’s history did not include, or did not directly include asbestos exposure, it is blamed in the vast majority of cases. There is no known cure for mesothelioma and prognoses are generally poor. Treatments are readily available in most cases, the most widely used being chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Surgery may be an option but by the time mesothelioma manifests itself in terms of symptoms, stage at diagnosis may have already ruled this mesothelioma treatment route out.
New treatments are being diligently pursued, including multi-faceted treatment programs incorporating two or more of the above treatment programs into a single patient’s care. Through awareness of mesothelioma, asbestos, and the potential health consequences we can begin ridding ourselves of this unfortunate disease.
- pleural mesothelioma – This form of the disease causes fluid to accumulate between the lung and chest cavity. Although this begins around the lungs, it can spread. pleural mesothelioma generally exhibits the symptoms of chest pain and shortness of breath in the patient. This is the most common type of the disease.
- peritoneal mesothelioma – The abdomen is affected by this type of the disease, and often the cancer spreads from there. cancerous tumors appear and pressure the abdominal wall. Patients may suffer from anemia and bowel obstruction. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite and pain and swelling of the abdominal region.
- pericardial mesothelioma – This type affects the heart. Tumors begin in the mesothelial cells around the heart. Again, the cancer may spread from the heart. Generally symptoms include chest pains and palpitations. In addition, there may be cough and shortness of breath.