Mesothelioma is a cancerous condition affecting mesothelium, which is the thin layer of tissue that surrounds many of the internal organs. It occurs due to exposure to asbestos, and it is an extremely aggressive cancer.
Asbestos exposure is more common in certain industries, such as construction, milling, mining, mechanics and shipbuilding. The associated symptoms vary based on the type of mesothelioma.
Types of mesothelioma
According to the Mayo Clinic, there are two main types of mesothelioma. Peritoneal mesothelioma affects the tissue covering the abdomen, while pleural mesothelioma occurs in the tissues covering the lungs.
Rarer forms of mesothelioma include pericardial and tunica vaginalis, which affect the heart and testicles.
Symptoms of mesothelioma
According to the Cleveland Clinic, some individuals have mesothelioma with no symptoms, while others have general symptoms such as weakness, fever, unexplained weight loss, night sweats and malaise. Those with peritoneal mesothelioma may experience pain in the abdomen, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea, anemia and small intestinal blockage. People with pleural mesothelioma may experience chest pain, pleural effusion, shortness of breath, trouble swallowing and chest lumps.
Treatment for those with asbestos-related illness
The symptoms of mesothelioma often mimic those of other conditions. If you have worked in a job in which asbestos exposure was a possibility, you should make an appointment with your physician. Diagnosis of mesothelioma occurs via biopsy, blood tests, imaging tests and lung function tests.
For those with malignant mesothelioma, the treatment and prognosis often depend on the progression of the cancer. Some treatment options include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy or a combination.