Important Facts About Mesothelioma

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Doctors identify several forms of mesothelioma, but they all produce similar symptoms. When doctors determine that a person has been exposed to asbestos, they are generally unable to do much for the patient. In some cases, the cancer may be aggressive and have spread to other areas of the body, such as the abdomen or the lungs. When this happens, there are few choices left available to the patient.


The treatment options for mesothelioma depend largely on the stage that the cancer is in. Doctors divide mesothelioma up into various classifications depending on which part of the mesothelioma is infected. Generally, mesothelioma most frequently affects the pleura, the membrane that lines the lungs (pneumonococcocyanin mesothelioma) or the lining of the abdominal cavity (peritoneal mesothelioma). Other rarer forms of mesothelioma also affect the testicles, the abdomen and other areas surrounding the torso. Regardless, of where the cancer occurs, if it is determined that someone has been exposed to asbestos, he or she will likely be placed on cancer treatment.

Once oncologists determine that mesothelioma is present, they perform a variety of tests to determine what type of cancer is present. These tests include a chest x-ray, blood test, CT scan, MRI, PET scan and a biopsy. In some cases, a tumor will be found on a tissue sample taken from the patient. However, even if a tumor is found, doctors can only identify it if other abnormalities are found in the patient as well. An oncology specialist will conduct a series of tests to determine if the tumor is benign or malignant. Tests such as a bone scan may also be conducted in order to help with determining whether the cancer has spread to other parts of the body.

Mesothelioma can be classified based on the type of asbestos used to create the tumor. If the asbestos fibers were inhaled, the lung tissues may become damaged as a result of the exposure. If the asbestos fibers were ingested, they could migrate into the stomach and other organs, causing inflammation of the stomach and other organs as a result of this new exposure. Abnormal cells in the lining of the lungs may also be affected as a result of the asbestos exposure.

Mesothelioma is usually associated with exposure to asbestos at some point in one’s lifetime. Some occupations have been identified as causing an increased risk of mesothelioma, including those involving burning, cutting or drilling, some construction and mining jobs. Individuals who smoke may also increase their risk of developing mesotheliomas as a result of their past exposure to asbestos. There are other risk factors for mesothelioma that cannot be linked to any one cause. These include genetics and heredity, which can both play a role in the development of mesotheliomas.

The three main symptoms of mesothelioma are pleural mesothelioma, peritoneal mesothelioma and pericardial mesothelioma. Pleural mesothelioma affects the tissue surrounding the chest cavity, while peritoneal and pericardial mesothelioma affects the tissue surrounding the heart. Both of these symptoms can be found during routine imaging procedures. Symptoms of pericardial mesothelioma will include fever, swelling of the ankles and legs and a lump in the neck just below the sternum. Peritoneal mesothelioma may include symptoms such as persistent coughing with bad breath and fatigue.

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