Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that primarily affects the lining of the lungs, known as the pleura, and the abdomen. The disease often stems from exposure to asbestos, a mineral used in various industries.
Understanding mesothelioma involves exploring its causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment options.
Unraveling the causes
Workers in construction, shipbuilding and insulation industries have a higher risk of developing mesothelioma due to prolonged exposure to asbestos. Asbestos fibers, when inhaled, can lodge in the lining of the lungs or abdomen, causing severe damage.
Identifying the symptoms
Mesothelioma symptoms can vary depending on where the cancer occurs. Pleural mesothelioma, affecting the lining of the lungs, may present symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath and persistent coughing. Peritoneal mesothelioma, affecting the lining of the abdomen, can cause symptoms like abdominal pain, swelling and unexplained weight loss. The latency period between asbestos exposure and the onset of symptoms can span decades, often leading to late-stage diagnosis.
Mesothelioma detection often involves a combination of imaging tests, blood tests and biopsies. Imaging tests like X-rays, CT scans, or PET scans can help identify abnormal tissue areas. Blood tests can detect certain substances that are higher in individuals with mesothelioma. A biopsy, involving the removal of a small tissue sample, provides the most definitive diagnosis.
Treatment options for mesothelioma can depend on the stage of the disease and the patient’s overall health. Common treatments include surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Recent advancements in immunotherapy and targeted therapy offer potential new avenues for treatment. A team of medical professionals typically collaborates to develop an individualized treatment plan for each patient.
From recognizing the symptoms to exploring the available treatments, mesothelioma awareness can lead to early detection and potentially improved outcomes. Advancements in medical research continue to provide hope for those battling this challenging disease.