Malignant Mesothelioma – Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, & Treatment
What is malignant mesothelioma?
Malignant mesothelioma is a rare cancerous tumor that affects the thin lining of the internal organs. This cancer mainly affects the pleura (lining of the lung and chest cavity) or peritoneum (lining of the abdomen). It occurs due to long-term asbestos exposure.
What causes malignant mesothelioma?
Malignant mesothelioma is caused by long-term exposure to asbestos. Asbestos is a toxic, fire-resistant, naturally occurring mineral. It was commonly used until the late 1980s in the industries of insulation, ceiling and roofing vinyl, cement, and car brakes.
What are the symptoms of malignant mesothelioma?
Malignant mesothelioma symptoms may not show up until about 30 years or longer after exposure to asbestos.
The following are the common symptoms:
- Chest pain with deep breathing
- A cough
- Shortness of breath
- Abdominal pain
- Abdominal bloating
- Fever and sweating
- Weight loss
How is malignant mesothelioma diagnosed?
Malignant mesothelioma is very hard to diagnose. It is very hard to pinpoint this cancer apart from similar conditions and tumors even under microscopic examination.
The doctor will perform a physical examination and review the symptoms and medical history. The following tests may be done for diagnosis:
- X-ray of the chest
- CT scan of the chest
- Pleural fluid cytology
- Lung biopsy
- Pleural biopsy
How is malignant mesothelioma treated?
It is very difficult to treat malignant mesothelioma. Usually, this cancer cannot be cured, unless it is diagnosed very early. Mostly, this cancer is too advanced by the time it is diagnosed.
Doctors usually use chemotherapy or radiation to alleviate the symptoms. A combination of certain chemotherapy drugs may help decrease symptoms, but it will not result in a cure.
Doctors also use pain relief, oxygen, and other supportive treatments to help relieve symptoms.
If left untreated, most people don’t survive more than 9 months after diagnosis.
This feature is for informational purposes only and is not intended to substitute the expert guidance of a doctor. We advise seeing a doctor if you have any health concerns.