Pleural Mesothelioma And Its Symptoms

By Heidi Wingrain

Inhaling asbestos filled air for longer durations result in a kind of cancer, which is called Mesothelioma. It is mainly classified into three categories. The most common among these is pleural mesothelioma and it is responsible for majority of the cases reported. In pleural mesothelioma, the protective membrane of our internal organs called mesothelium gets covered with the malicious loose asbestos fibers. This gradually damages the cells and affects its functioning. Mainly this type of cancer affects pleura, the protective lining around lungs and internal chest wall.

The pleura covering the chest wall is called parietal pleura and the protecting the lungs is called visceral pleura. The lungs can expand and contract easily due to the presence of a fluid between parietal pleura and visceral pleura. The asbestos inhaled by the workers enter the pleura after getting into the minute passages of the lungs. Formation of cancerous cells takes place as the result of a chemical reaction still unknown to the world. The cells then start dividing unnaturally resulting in the pleural lining becoming thicker and thicker. Collection of excess fluid also takes place. The affected person suffers from breathlessness, since thickening of pleura reduces breathing process.

The first symptom of is of course shortness of breath. Chest pain, weight loss and night sweats follow. The seriousness of the disease is directly related to the number of years a person was exposed to asbestos. The first visible symptoms may come forth only many years after he was exposed to asbestos particles. An added disadvantage here is that physicians may wrongly diagnose the problem, thereby compounding its seriousness. It is advisable that if a person with a history of working with asbestos feels any of these symptoms, he may contact a mesothelioma doctor immediately and get diagnosed properly.

Traditional treatments like surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy have limited success against pleural mesothelioma. There are five different surgical treatments followed, namely, pleorodesis, pleurectomy, decortication, pneumonectomy and extra pneumonectomy.

Chemotherapy is the widely accepted medicated treatment, while radiation therapy uses high energy gamma rays, X-rays or neutrons. Other therapies for the disease are intra-operative photodynamic therapy, immunotherapy and gene therapy. Above all the will power of the patient and the level of infection determine the success of treatment. - 30540

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