Mesothelioma is a rare yet deadly cancer that almost always surfaces in a malignant form and results in tumors on significant organs of the body. Most people believe mesothelioma is a cancer of the mesothelium. So what exactly is the mesothelium? The mesothelium is a film or sac that surrounds vital organs in an attempt to protect them (such organs can include the lungs and heart). Mesothelioma can almost always be attributed to asbestos. While we might think there exists only one form of mesothelioma, there actually several. We will be talking about pleural mesothelioma, peritoneal mesothelioma, and pericardial mesothelioma. As unfortunate as it may be, mesothelioma’s symptoms don’t surface until the disease has progressed, which at times can be several years following exposure to asbestos. As one might guess, this can make diagnosis a pain and treatment a near impracticality.
Diffuse malignant pleural mesothelioma, or DMM, is a rare but highly aggressive type of cancer. It occurs in the thin layer of tissue, the pleura, lining the chest cavity and lungs. Once diagnosed with DMM, most patients do not survive beyond one year. This cancer is more common in men than in women, and in older people.
Symptoms of mesothelioma may not appear until 30 to 50 years after exposure to asbestos. Shortness of breath and pain in the chest due to an accumulation of fluid in the pleura are often symptoms of pleural mesothelioma. Symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma include weight loss and abdominal pain and swelling due to a buildup of fluid in the abdomen. Other symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma may include bowel obstruction, blood clotting abnormalities, anemia, and fever. If the cancer has spread beyond the mesothelium to other parts of the body, symptoms may include pain, trouble swallowing, or swelling of the neck or face.
These symptoms may be caused by mesothelioma or by other, less serious conditions. It is important to see a doctor about any of these symptoms. Only a doctor can make a diagnosis.
Mesothelioma is a type of cancer involving mesothelial tissues of body organs usually lungs or abdominal. It is often caused by exposure to asbestos. However, there are 30-50% of patients without any history of asbestos exposure.