Mesothelioma is a very rare form of cancer that affects the mesothelium, a protective membrane that surrounds the lungs, abdomen and heart. It can grow through the affected tissue and cause a wide range of symptoms including difficulty in breathing, shortness of breath, chest pain, fatigue, coughing and an inability to raise the arm or leg. These symptoms usually occur in older patients who have been exposed to asbestos, whether it be from a chimney a demolition project or an occupational exposure.
In many cases, doctors will perform various tests and treatment options to determine the extent of the tumor and prognosis. The most common test used is the biopsy, which involves removing a small piece of the affected tissue for examination under a microscope.
Blood samples may also be taken to check for abnormalities such as high levels of free-radical damage, a factor that is often associated with other forms of cancer. Liver function tests are used to assess liver disease and tests for thyroid and kidney function are often used. Diagnostic CT scans may also be performed to evaluate the extent of the malignancy. Other tests may include testicular biopsy to confirm the diagnosis, and X-rays to evaluate whether tumors affect the lung and heart tissue.
There are several mesothelioma treatment options available. The most popular of these is surgery, which is only done on patients who are considered good candidates.
The primary method of surgical treatment is lobectomy, which removes part of the affected tissue using an incision at the chest. In contrast, photodynamic therapy, a form of radiation therapy, is usually used on older patients. This treatment uses high-energy x-rays to destroy the cancerous cells. The radiation may be delivered to the surface of the affected tissue.
Additional treatments can include chemotherapy. It is most often administered to patients after surgery and it is intended to kill all cancerous cells, regardless of how they are scattered throughout the body.
On the other hand, some patients choose to undergo home care. In this case, the individual uses special support material to help them make breathing exercises to try to ease their difficulty in breathing.
If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you may have a new hope. Mesothelioma can be treated, but you need to be ready for the treatments and the extensive care that go along with them.
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