Pleural mesothelioma is one of the most common types of mesothelioma that has been diagnosed in humans. In the United States, around 2,500 patients are diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma each year. This cancer is related to asbestos exposure, although some scientists are still not sure about the real causes.
Causes of pleural mesothelioma
Asbestos is often used in constructions due to its thermostability. During the constructing and renovation process, asbestos breaks down into fibers or fine dust. The dust that is accidentally inhaled by a person might enter the lungs and trigger cancer cells to develop. Thus, the person will likely get pleural mesothelioma.
There are several factors that can increase the risk of getting pleural mesothelioma. Workers in mining, automotive, construction, textile industry, power plants, or steel industry may get a higher exposure of asbestos. Family from those workers might as well be aware of the indirect exposure since the asbestos dust can stick to the skin and clothes and being carried away to the home. People who live in old houses or above a soil that contains asbestos also have a high risk of getting pleural mesothelioma. The diseases might also be genetically passed through the next generations.
Symptoms and prognosis
Commonly, pleural mesothelioma prognosis is affected by some factors, such as the patient’s gender and age, the cell type, and the stage of cancer. For pleural mesothelioma malignant, the prognosis is poor. However, treatments may increase the life expectancy of the patient. The survival rates for patients after one year of diagnosis is relatively high, which is about 73%. However, it is dropped significantly to 23% for the patient to survive after three years since the diagnosis.
The symptoms of pleural mesothelioma may take 10 to 50 years to present after the exposure. Typically, the patient will experience fever and fatigue. Then, they will feel chest pain and a dry cough. As the symptoms getting worse, they may also cough up some blood. The patient will also have difficulty in breathing and swallowing due to the liquid accumulation inside the lungs.
Treatments for pleural mesothelioma
There are multiple approaches to treat pleural mesothelioma patients. To make sure the diagnose is correct, doctors will run some tests to the patient, including x-ray photos, CT scans, positron emission tomography, MRI, liquid samples, and biopsies. Then, they will offer some choices to treat the disease. The most common choice is surgery, which may have two different goals: extending life expectancy and relieving discomfort. Depends on the stage of pleural mesothelioma, surgical may be done to remove the chest wall and lining of the lung, or to remove the affected lung as well as the linings of the lungs, the linings of the heart, and part of the diaphragm.
Chemotherapy is often recommended as an additional treatment along with the surgery. Radiation therapy may also be another choice to treat the pleural mesothelioma. The radiotherapy may be done after surgery to remove the remaining cancer cell, or to decrease symptoms of advanced cancer when surgery is impossible to do. Until today, doctors and scientists are still trying to do some other experimental treatment options which are focusing on pleural mesothelioma.