mesothelioma : symptoms, causes, types and treatment

Mesothelimo Cancer : Everything You Need To Know

(Last Updated On: March 10, 2018)


  What Is Mesothelioma ?

Mesothelioma Definition – Mesothelioma is a rare, aggressive type of cancer that develops in the lining of the lungs, abdomen, or heart.

Caused by asbestos, mesothelioma has no well-known cure and contains a very poor prognosis.

Types And Symptoms of Mesothelioma Cancer

Mesothelioma is most commonly classified by the placement in the body where it develops. Specifically, the cancer forms in the lining of certain organs or areas inside the body, called the mesothelium.

mesothelioma usually develops in one of 3 specific areas.

1) Pleural Mesothelioma

Pleural mesothelioma is a cancer that develops within the cells that form the outer lining of the lungs and inner lining of the chest cavities. it’s the most common kind of asbestos-related cancer. Specialists use the latest therapies to treat it, and clinical trials offer access to new treatments like immunotherapy.

Symptoms :

Chest pain under the rib cage

Painful coughing

Shortness of breath

Unusual lumps of tissue under the skin on your chest

Unexplained weight loss

2) Peritoneal Mesothelioma

Peritoneal mesothelioma is the second-most-common kind of malignant mesothelioma cancer. It develops on the peritoneum, also called the lining of the abdomen. unlike the pleural type, patients with this condition could survive many years after diagnosis.

Symptoms :

Abdominal pain

Abdominal swelling

Lumps of tissue in the abdomen

Unexplained weight loss

3) Pericardial Mesothelioma

Pericardial mesothelioma develops within the pericardium, that is the thin membrane surrounding the heart. Surgery and chemotherapy will facilitate people live longer with the cancer and other therapies can control symptoms like pericardial effusion.

Symptoms :

Breathing difficulty

Chest pains

For Detailed information about mesothelioma symptoms click here

Causes And Preventions of Mesothelioma

In general, cancer begins when a series of genetic mutations occur among a cell, inflicting the cell to grow and multiply out of control.

It’s not clear what causes the initial genetic mutations that result in mesothelioma, though researchers have known factors which will increase the risk.

It’s possible that cancers form due to an interaction between several factors, like inherited conditions, your surroundings, your health conditions and your lifestyle choices.

Risk Factors

Asbestos exposure :

Asbestos is a mineral that is found naturally in the atmosphere. asbestos fibers are strong and immune to heat, creating them helpful in a very wide variety of applications, like in insulation, brakes, shingles, flooring and lots of different products.

When asbestos is broken up, like during the mining process or when removing asbestos insulation, dust is also created. If the dust is inhaled or swallowed, the asbestos fibers can settle in the lungs or in the stomach, where they’ll cause irritation which will result in mesothelioma.

Exactly how this happens is not understood. It will take 20 to 40 years or more for mesothelioma to develop after asbestos exposure.

Most people with years of asbestos exposure never develop mesothelioma. And yet, others with very brief exposure develop the disease.

this means that different factors is also concerned in crucial whether somebody gets mesothelioma or does not. for example, you could inherit a predisposition to cancer or some other condition could increase your risk.

Living with somebody who works with asbestos :

people who are exposed to asbestos could carry the fibers home on their skin and clothing. Exposure to those stray fibers over many years will put others in the home in danger of mesothelioma.

people who work with high levels of asbestos will reduce the danger of bringing home asbestos fibers by showering and changing clothes before leaving work.

A family history of mesothelioma :

If your parent, sibling or kid has mesothelioma, you’ll have an increased risk of this mesothelioma.


Reducing your exposure to asbestos could lower your risk of mesothelioma.

Find out whether you work with asbestos :

Most people with mesothelioma were exposed to the asbestos fibers at work. employees who might encounter asbestos fibers include:


factory employees

Insulation manufacturers

Ship builders

Construction workers

automobile mechanics

Ask your employer whether you’ve got a risk of asbestos exposure on the duty.

Follow your employer’s safety rules :

Follow all safety precautions in your workplace, like wearing protecting equipment. you’ll even be needed to shower and change out of your work clothes before taking a lunch break or going home. talk to your doctor regarding different precautions you’ll be able to go for protect yourself from asbestos exposure.

Be safe around asbestos in your home :

Older homes and buildings might contain asbestos. In several cases, it’s a lot of dangerous to get rid of the asbestos than it is to leave it intact. breaking up asbestos might cause fibers to become airborne, wherever they’ll be inhaled.

Consult specialists trained to discover asbestos in your home. These consultants could check the air in your home to see whether the asbestos is a risk to your health. do not attempt to remove asbestos from your home — rent a certified expert. The Environmental Protection Agency offers recommendation on its website for managing asbestos in the home.

Diagnosis And Staging

your doctor can conduct a physical examination to check for any lumps or other uncommon signs, If you have any signs and symptoms of mesothelioma, .

Your doctor could order imaging scans, like a chest X-ray and a computerized tomography (CT) scan of your chest or abdomen, to seem for abnormalities.

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As per your findings, your doctor do further testing to determine whether mesothelioma or any other disease is inflicting your signs and symptoms.

Biopsy :

Biopsy, a procedure to remove a small portion of tissue for laboratory examination, is the only way to verify whether you’ve got mesothelioma. counting on what area of your body is affected, your doctor selects the proper diagnostic test procedure for you.

Options include:

⇒ Fine-needle aspiration : The doctor removes fluid or a piece of tissue with a small needle inserted into your chest or abdomen.

⇒ Thoracoscopy : Thoracoscopy permits the doctor to examine inside your chest. during this procedure, the doctor makes one or more tiny incisions between your ribs. A tube with a little video camera is then inserted into your chest cavity — a procedure generally known as video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS). Special surgical tools permit your doctor to chop away tiny items of tissue for testing.

⇒ laparoscopy : laparoscopy permits the doctor to examine within your abdomen. using one or more tiny incisions into your abdomen, the doctor inserts a little camera and special surgical tools to get a small piece of tissue for examination.

⇒ Thoracotomy : Thoracotomy is surgery to open your chest between the ribs to permit a doctor to examine for signs of disease. A sample of tissue could also be removed for testing.

⇒ Laparotomy : laparotomy is surgery to open your abdomen to permit a doctor to examine for signs of disease. A sample of tissue could also be removed for testing.

The tissue sample is analyzed under a magnifier to examine whether the abnormal tissue is mesothelioma and what types of cells are involved. the type of mesothelioma you’ve got determines your treatment plan.

Staging :

Once mesothelioma is diagnosed, your doctor orders different tests to determine the extent, or stage, of the cancer. Imaging tests could help confirm the stage of your cancer may include:

CT scans of the chest and abdomen

magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

positron emission tomography (PET)

Your doctor determines which test are more suitable for you. Not every person needs every test.

Once the extent of pleural mesothelioma is determined, a stage is assigned.

Stage I : Mesothelioma is considered localized cancer, which means it’s restricted to 1 portion of the lining of the chest.

Stage II : Mesothelioma could have unfold on the far side the lining of the chest to the diaphragm or to a lung.

Stage III : Mesothelioma could have unfold to different structures within the chest and will involve near lymph nodes.

Stage IV : Mesothelioma is an advanced cancer that has unfold more extensively within the chest. Stage IV might also indicate that mesothelioma has unfold to distant areas of the body, like the brain, liver and lymph nodes elsewhere within the chest.

Formal stages are not available for different varieties of mesothelioma because these types are rare and aren’t well-studied.


Treatment for mesothelioma is totally depends on your health and certain aspects of your cancer, like its stage and location.

Unfortunately, mesothelioma often is an aggressive disease and for many individuals a cure is not possible.

Mesothelioma is usually diagnosed at an advanced stage — once it’s not possible to get rid of the cancer through an operation. Instead, your doctor may work to control your cancer to make you more comfortable.

Discuss treatment goals with your doctor. Some individuals wish to do everything they will to treat their cancer, though that means enduring side effects for a small probability of an improvement.

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Others like treatments that create them comfortable in order that they will live their remaining time as symptom-free as possible.

Surgery :

Surgery is used for diagnostic or aggressive and probably curative functions. It offers the most effective chance of long-term survival for pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma patients eligible for surgery.

Sometimes it’s not possible to get rid of all of the cancer. In those cases, surgery could facilitate to reduce the signs and symptoms caused by mesothelioma spreading in your body.

Surgical options may include:

Surgery to decrease fluid buildup : pleural mesothelioma may cause fluid to developed in your chest, inflicting difficulty in breathing.

Surgeons insert a tube or catheter into your chest to empty the fluid. Doctors can also inject medicine into your chest to stop fluid from returning (pleurodesis).

Surgery to get rid of the tissue around the lungs or abdomen : In order to give relieve to the patient, Surgeons take away the tissue lining the ribs and the lungs (pleurectomy) or the tissue lining the abdominal cavity (peritonectomy). however procedure will not cure mesothelioma.

Surgery to get rid of as much of the cancer as possible (debulking) : If all of the cancer cannot be removed, surgeons could decide to take away the maximum amount as possible.

Debulking permits doctors to more accurately direct radiation treatments to relieve pain and fluid buildup caused by mesothelioma.

Surgery to get rid of a lung and the surrounding tissue : Removing the affected lung and the tissue that surrounds it should relieve signs and symptoms of pleural mesothelioma.

If you will be receiving radiation therapy to the chest after surgery, this procedure also permits doctors to use higher doses, since they won’t need to worry about protective your lung from damaging radiation.


Chemotherapy will alleviate symptoms, improve quality of life and extend survival, however it will carry unpleasant side effects.

Chemotherapy uses chemicals to kill cancer cells. chemotherapy travels throughout the body and will shrink or slow the expansion of a mesothelioma cancer that cannot be removed using by surgery.

chemotherapy can also be used before surgery (neoadjuvant chemotherapy) to create an operation easier or after surgery (adjuvant chemotherapy) to reduce the chance that cancer can come back.

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Chemotherapy medicine can also be heated and administered directly into the abdominal cavity (intraperitoneal chemotherapy), in the case of peritoneal mesothelioma. using this strategy, chemotherapy medicine will reach the mesothelioma directly while not injuring healthy cells in different parts of the body.

this permits doctors to administer higher doses of chemotherapy medicine.

Radiation therapy

With fewer side effects than chemotherapy, radiation will help shrink tumors and relieve pain. It will be performed at all stages.

Radiation therapy focuses high-energy beams from sources like X-rays and protons to a particular spot or spots on your body. Radiation is also used after surgery to kill any remaining cancer cells. it should also help reduce signs and symptoms of advanced cancer in situations where surgery is not an option.

Multimodal Treatment

A combination of 2 or more traditional treatments, together with chemotherapy, surgery and radiation. Studies show multimodal therapy will improve survival.


Heated or Hyperthermic Intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) could be a multimodal treatment that involves heating chemotherapy medicine and delivering them to the abdomen after surgery.

Survival Rate (Latest Study)

In 2016 there was a study performed by the University of Maryland medical center.

This study involved 73 pleural mesothelioma patients with 19 of the patients not having lymphatic node involvement.

Surgery was performed on every patient to remove or attempt to physically remove cancer.

After the surgery, photodynamic therapy that uses light and a photosensitizing agent to kill remaining cancer cells was administered. Lastly, chemotherapy was administered however only on 92 of the patients.

The report of this study indicates that all patients had an overall average survival rate of almost 3 years or 35 months.

But, this number was nearly doubled for the 19 patients whose mesothelioma had not yet spread to the lymph nodes.

According to E. Albert Reece, the Medical Affairs Department’s vice president, the results indicate a prolonged overall survival in some patients and they are quite promising.

Also according to the study, patients that underwent chemotherapy alone lived for only 12 to 18 months as opposed to the patients that lived nearly 3 years who were treated with multimodal therapy using the 3 types of treatment.


Reference :

American Cancer Society



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