Malignant cells develop in the mesothelium. This protective bag has different names, depending on its position on the body. The most affected by mesothelioma are:
Visceral pleura: the membrane surrounding the lungs.
Plethoric pleura: the membrane that aligns the chest wall.
Peritoneum: the membrane that forms this lining of the abdominal and pelvic cavities.
Mesothelioma most often begins in the pleura. Commonly, the two crying touch and slide over each other while we breathe, which is reduced with a liquid stain. In case of pleural mesothelioma, the pleura produces more fluid than necessary, which exerts pressure on the lungs (pleural effusion). Mesothelioma usually develops in a lung. The tumour tends to mature in the lungs until the entire organ is enclosed.
It remains not identified how asbestos fibres enter the peritoneal cavity. They are unlikely to cross the intestinal wall. However, they can pass through the diaphragm.
Diagnosis of mesothelioma
Consulting a doctor for any symptoms is essential. Only a doctor can make a diagnosis.
The diagnosis of mesothelioma may include:
medical history, including a history of exposure to asbestos
X-ray of the chest
computed tomography (CT)
Drainage and laboratory analysis of the pleural fluid.
A tissue sample (biopsy) to help differentiate mesothelioma from another condition called benign pleural disease related to asbestos.
The results of the test may take a few days to come back. It is very natural to be anxious while waiting for the results. It may be helpful to talk with a close friend or relative about your feelings. You can also contact the Cancer Council Helpline on 13 11 20 and speak with a nurse practising in oncology.
The treatment depends on the type of mesothelioma, the stage (extension) of the disease and the preferences of the person. The options may include:
Pleurectomy: surgery to remove the affected tissue. The affected lung may also be excluded in its entirety (pneumonectomy) or partly (lobectomy). Usually, only small tumours are managed with surgery. The life of a person can last for a few months or years
Phototherapy: a procedure that was rarely used during the pleurectomy. The cancer cells that wander inside the thorax was highlighted with a special dye, and the laser destroys them.
Thoracentesis: a method that removes fluid from the pleural cavity through a needle inserted between the ribs.
Pleurodesis: a special powder is inserted between the pleural layers to cause inflammation and interrupt the production of excess fluids. This is done using a thin instrument (endoscope) embedded in the chest
paracentesis: a procedure in which a needle or thin tube is inserted into the abdomen to remove fluid from the peritoneal cavity (the space inside the abdomen that contains the intestine, stomach, and liver)
Peritoneal surgery: surgery to remove tumours in the abdominal cavity. Intestinal symptoms can often improve after this procedure.
Chemotherapy: the use of anti-cancer drugs that can reduce cancer and relieve symptoms. Chemotherapy is often recommended if the tumour has come back after another treatment or if other treatments are inappropriate.
Radiotherapy: treatment with X-rays to kill cancer cells. Only small areas can be treated. Otherwise, the healthy cells of the lung, heart and liver could be damaged. Radiation therapy is often used to relieve pain and wheezing.
Complementary and alternative therapies: if used together with Conventional cancer treatment, some of these therapies can Make you feel good and improve your quality of life. Others may not be as useful and, in some cases, may be harmful. The Victoria Cancer Council brochure, called Understanding Complementary Therapies, can be a helpful resource.
All treatments can cause side effects. Many of them are only temporary, but some may be permanent. Your medical team will discuss with you before starting treatment.
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