Pleural mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that affects the thin lining, or pleura, covering the lungs and chest. Mesothelioma can also spread to other body parts, including the lining around the heart and digestive tract. The signs and symptoms of mesothelioma vary from patient to patient.
Some patients may have no signs or symptoms of early-stage disease, while some may experience constant pain in their back, ribs, or abdomen with advanced-stage disease. Pleural mesothelioma occurs due to prolonged exposure to asbestos.
Mesothelioma occurs amongst asbestos workers or those with prolonged asbestos exposure. The primary cause of mesothelioma is asbestos exposure.
As mesothelioma progresses, cancerous cells grow into malignant tumors and spread throughout the area covered by tissue that lines the lungs and chest. Mesothelioma commonly affects the lungs but can also occur in other areas of the chest or abdomen. People who have exposure to asbestos within their lifetime and are 50 or older are at a greater risk of developing mesothelioma.
Veterans also suffer from mesothelioma due to prolonged exposure to non-flammable materials during or after service. Mesothelioma can occur as a part of asbestos-related disease, which may take up to 40 years after initial exposure for symptoms to show up. Some veterans may have served in various military branches, such as the Navy and Marines.
Complications are unexpected conditions brought about by disease, procedure, treatment, or a combination of these factors. Here are common complications of mesothelioma:
Because of the tumor development, mesothelioma can cause respiratory complications. Possible respiratory complications include recurrent infections (bacterial or fungal), inflammation of the chest wall, and emphysema.
Shortness of breath can result from pneumonia, pleural effusion, fluid build-up, and infection.
Bacterial Pneumonia is a complication when the lining and membranes of the lungs get infected by bacteria. This condition usually occurs when a person has a weakened immune system. If not treated properly, it can lead to respiratory complications such as shortness of breath and dehydration.
Mesothelioma can cause abdominal pain, especially with tumor-related inflammation or inflammation due to chemotherapy treatments.
As mesothelioma develops, pleural effusion is more likely to occur. Pleural effusion occurs when there is a build-up of fluid between the layers of the pleura outside the lungs.
Pericardial effusion (per-e-KAHR-dee-ul uh-FU-zhun) is the build-up of too much fluid in the double-layered, saclike structure around the heart (pericardium). The space between these layers typically contains a thin layer of fluid. But if the pericardium is diseased or injured, the resulting inflammation can lead to excess fluid. Fluid can also build up around the heart without inflammation, such as from bleeding related to cancer or after chest trauma. Pericardial effusion can pressure the heart, affecting how the heart works. If untreated, it may lead to heart failure or death in extreme cases.
A pneumothorax (noo-moe-THOR-aks) is a collapsed lung. A pneumothorax occurs when air leaks into the space between your lung and chest wall. This air pushes on the outside of your lung and makes it collapse. A pneumothorax can be a complete lung collapse or a collapse of only a portion of the lung.
Nerve pain can occur from pressure of the tumors or fluid build-up on the spinal cord.
Mesothelioma can cause severe problems when breathing. Breathing problems can be critical and deadly.
The symptoms of mesothelioma may be:
Chest pain usually occurs when there is inflammation, irritation in the chest, or coughing due to fluid build-up.
Shortness of breath occurs from fluid build-up in the pleural space or lung or chest wall inflammation.
Fatigue is the constant feeling of tiredness and weakness. Fatigue can make it hard to function daily, affecting one's ability to work, live, and enjoy life.
Lymphadenopathy is an enlargement of a lymph node. While concerning, swelling of the lymph nodes can be good as it's a sign of your body fighting off infection. If the swollen lymph nodes do not go away, contact your doctor.
Weight loss occurs from your body's extra work to fight mesothelioma, the inability to keep in food and nutrients, and even stress.
This occurs when fluid accumulates in the abdominal area or even tumors, leading to blockage of the intestines. This symptom often leads to death if the patient does not receive treatment for it.
As a result of mesothelioma, pain in the abdomen is common.
There is no single type of treatment for pleural mesothelioma. Pleural mesothelioma is tough to treat. The few options for treatment can be:
Chemotherapy is the most common form of treatment. This treatment option exposes the patient to various anti-tumor drugs to fight cancer. However, this can also have side effects such as osteoporosis, damage to the intestinal tract, and gastrointestinal problems such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
This treatment involves exposing cancerous areas to radiation to kill cancer cells and reduce their growth. It can be very complicated and harmful to other body parts, such as the skin and lungs. It also has side effects, such as anxiety and insomnia.
Surgery is a treatment option to remove cancerous tissue or fluid build-up in the chest cavity. Rarely do all the cancerous tissues get removed from the body.
When traditional methods to treat mesothelioma don't work, patients will look at clinical trials. Scientists are constantly working to find cures or treatments for mesothelioma and need patients to try their treatments on. Clinical trials are not promised to work and can often cause other complications or death.
When all the treatments or clinical trials have failed, patients will often move to palliative care, focusing on comfort in their left days.
An early diagnosis is crucial to treating pleural mesothelioma effectively. If you are experiencing any symptoms of mesothelioma and have asbestos exposure, you should call your doctor.
Are you suffering from pleural mesothelioma? Is someone in your family affected? If yes, it is essential to know that you are not alone. You can find a community of people who have gone through the same experience.
If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you may be eligible for compensation. Contact our office to learn about your rights and compensation.