Malignant mesothelioma (ME-per-tuh-lih-thun) is a very aggressive form of malignancy that occurs primarily in the lining of the internal organs (the mesothelium). The word “malignancy” derives from the Greek word malakos, which means “bad condition.” Malignant mesothelioma is a very serious form of malignancy and is the eighth leading cause of death in the United States. Unfortunately, malignant mesothelioma often goes undiagnosed for months or even years, causing terrible suffering and loss of life before a diagnosis is made. For some people with malignant mesothelioma a cure is not only possible, but often available.
As of this writing, there is no known cure for mesothelioma. However, many patients with the disease can live happy and healthy lives for years, even decades, depending on the aggressive treatment they receive and how their tumors are treated. Patients suffering from any of several different types of malignant mesothelioma can be treated with surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or a combination of these. Surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy are all aimed at improving the patient’s quality of life by reducing the size of the tumor, stopping its growth or improving the overall health of the patient. Surgeons may perform one or more surgeries to “stretch out” the affected areas, or remove portions of the affected mesothelioma cells. If surgery is performed and the tumors are surgically removed, the patient will experience some immediate relief from pain.
Radiation therapy may be used in conjunction with surgery to target the cancerous cells that have already formed in areas where surgery may not be possible. If the mesothelioma cell does not grow or spread, the symptoms will probably be alleviated somewhat. However, the increased risk of developing pleural mesothelioma in these circumstances is likely. Pleural mesothelioma causes the thickening of the lining of the chest (pleura), which can cause pain, discomfort, loss of smell, swallowing problems, and coughing. Other symptoms associated with pleural mesothelioma include weight loss, fever, persistent chest infections, and shortness of breath.
Certain other types of mesothelioma exist, including those that stem from exposure to asbestos. Since asbestos fibers are extremely dangerous when inhaled, individuals who work with this material are at particularly high risk. Unfortunately, the reason for this is not always known, as many employees do not suffer ill effects until decades later. Mesothelioma has also been shown to occur more frequently in those whose jobs include welding, construction, and maintenance involving asbestos. Other risk factors for both these and other types of mesothelioma are increased alcohol consumption, cigarette smoking, and use of illegal drugs.
One thing that all patients with this disease can hope for is a median survival time of two to five years. This varies according to the type of mesothelioma and the extent of damage done to the peritoneum. Peritoneal mesothelioma patients, or those diagnosed with this condition, have an increased risk of death due to complications from surgery or other medical interventions, especially if they receive a major operation. The median survival time of peritoneal mesothelioma patients is three to four months. However, this can increase to six months or longer in some cases. This increase is related to a number of factors, including age and overall health of the patient.
Mesothelioma symptoms can become difficult to identify as it progresses. Inhaled asbestos fibers can give the symptoms of pleural mesothelioma more rapidly than oral and intravenous methods of delivery. Oral and intravenous methods of delivery are far more efficient at delivering materials directly to the lungs and supporting treatment. If you believe that you may have been exposed to asbestos, you should speak with a professional medical worker who can help you determine the best course of treatment. You can also contact an attorney skilled in personal injury law who can help you learn more about your rights and how to seek compensation for your symptoms and damaged lungs.