Signs and symptoms of mesothelioma depend on where on the body the cancer happens. Pleural mesothelioma is the most common form of mesothelioma and involves the mesothelium, that affects the lining that surrounds the lungs. Other forms of mesothelioma may occur including peritoneal mesothelioma and pericardial mesothelioma. Pericardial mesothelioma is a form that develops in the lining of the heart. Symptoms of this disease include persistent coughing with mucus, pain in the abdomen or lower back, and a fear of dying.
Mesothelioma occurs when someone becomes exposed to asbestos and subsequently becomes infected. When fibers of this substance become trapped in the lining of an individual’s organs or other areas of their body, they can then develop into this cancer. Even though asbestos is no longer used in many construction projects, it is still present in many older homes and buildings. Asbestos is not so easily killed by typical building materials such as drywall and ceiling tiles, so these materials are often found to contain high levels of asbestos.
There are three types of mesothelioma that are generally categorized according to their location in the body. Peritoneal mesothelioma is the most common form. This type affects the abdomen, chest, or both. The pleura, which is the lining tissue that covers the lungs, is the primary target for this disease.
Malignant mesothelioma is the worst-case scenario. This cancer is generally referred to as malignant peritoneal mesothelioma. It affects the lining that surrounds the lungs and chest cavity and can be diagnosed through a CT scan or a chest x-ray. Once malignant mesothelioma has been identified, treatment options will vary according to the extent of the damage to the mesothelium.
Many factors play a role in determining the mesothelioma patients life expectancy. These include the age at the time of diagnosis, overall health, overall cancer stage, family history, geographic location, and demographics. Each of these areas is studied in order to determine a patient’s life expectancy. As noted above, a patient’s overall health, in addition to the cancer stage, plays an important role in determining life expectancy. For example, people with a history of mesothelioma have a greater chance of living for a longer period of time.
The age at the time of diagnosis and overall health are particularly important in determining life expectancy. The age of the patient will also be affected by whether or not they receive a diagnosis of mesothelioma. If they have been diagnosed with the disease but the disease has not yet progressed to the point of being in Stage I or II, life expectancy can be significantly increased. Stage I and II mesotheliomas have a faster growth rate, increased tendency to spread to other parts of the body, and an increased risk of spreading to the lymph nodes and the chest wall. The increased risk of spreading to the lymph nodes and the chest wall is due to the fact that at this stage, mesothelioma cells are still confined to the mesothelium, where they are unable to travel to different areas of the body.