Complete Explanation of Mesothelioma Diseases, Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

Mesothelioma symptoms, causes, and treatment - Mesothelioma is an aggressive malignant cancer that affects the lining of lung and stomach membranes, malignant mesothelioma or malignant mesothelioma is the most serious of all the diseases associated with asbestos. Although rare, mesothelioma cancers are no longer considered rare. The main cause and risk factor for mesothelioma is asbestos exposure.
Complete Explanation of Mesothelioma Diseases, Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

Mesothelioma has several types and can attack some parts of the body, among others:


1. Pleural Mesothelioma (lung membranes)

This type is the most common of all mesothelioma. It is usually caused by frequent inhalation of asbestos fiber dust, which is then trapped in the pleural and causes scarring and inflammation.

2. Peritoneal Mesothelioma (abdominal membrane)

The second most common type develops in the peritoneum, which is the tissue that lines the stomach. Similarly to pleural mesothelioma, the cause is dust and asbestos fibers that are either swallowed or find its way to the gastrointestinal tract so that it settles and develops in the abdominal cavity.

3. Pericardial Mesothelioma (heart-enveloping pockets)

Mesothelioma is ranked third most often which attacks the tissue that lines the heart. The cause is also asbestos, and this cancer develops from the abnormal cells that have evolved in the pleural. Somehow the process, but this asbestos dust can break through to the pericardium and develop in the heart membrane.

4. Mesothelioma from the testicles of tunics vaginal (internal lining of male sex organs) and Mesothelioma utero Tunics serous (internal membranes organs intimate woman)

Both types of mesothelioma are the rarest. Although not sure how precisely the asbestos dust can settle and attack the intimate organs of this man's DNA, some cases do show that asbestos dust is the main cause.

Causes of Mesothelioma

The cause of mesothelioma is not yet known for certainty. However, mesothelioma is always associated with asbestos exposure or asbestos. Asbestos is a mineral that is widely used as a construction material of buildings, such as roofs, because of its heat-resistant and flame-retardant nature. The use of asbestos has been officially banned since 1999.

When the asbestos is destroyed, either during the mining process or the renovation of the building, asbestos will produce fine fibers or dust. The fine fiber of asbestos is easily inhalation, then enters and settlers inside the body's organs, especially the lungs. Ingested asbestos fibers can also move through the lymphatic system, settle, and infect cells in the abdominal membrane (peritoneum).

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Exposure to asbestos can also affect the functioning of the reproductive organs and heart. However, it has not been known for its dissemination process as it is very rare.

In general, there are several factors that increase the risk of mesothelioma, namely:
  • Working environment vulnerable to asbestos, such as mineral mines, construction sites, automotive industry, power plants, textile industry, and steel mills.
  • Residing in an old building or an environment where the soil contains asbestos.
  • Have family members working in an environment that is vulnerable to asbestos exposure. Asbestos can stick to the skin and clothes, so that asbestos can be carried into the house or another environment.
  • Has a history of mesothelioma or genetic disorders that increase cancer risk.
In addition to asbestos, there are several other factors that can increase the risk of mesothelioma, though rare. Among them is exposure to erionite minerals, exposure to radiation from the thorium dioxide chemical used in the examination of X-rays to 1950, and infected with the virus (SV40).

Mesothelioma Symptoms

Symptoms of mesothelioma develop gradually and usually take 20-30 years until symptoms arise. The patient may not feel any symptoms when mesothelioma is in the early stages. But over time, cancer cells will develop and suppress nerves or other organs, causing symptoms.

Symptoms of mesothelioma differ depending on the location of cancer cells. In pulmonary mesothelioma, the symptoms that may arise are as follows:
  • Fever was accompanied by sweat, especially at night.
  • Excessive fatigue.
  • Cough accompanied by unbearable pain.
  • Shortness of breath due to fluid buildup in the lungs, precisely in the pleural cavity, the chamber between the two pleural layers lining the lungs.
  • Weight loss with no obvious cause.
  • Chest pain.
  • Swelling and change of shape at the fingertips.
  • There is a lump in the tissues beneath the skin surface of the chest area.

Meanwhile, abdominal mesothelioma (peritoneal) has the following symptoms:
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Weight loss decreased drastically.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Constipation.
  • Pain in the abdomen.
  • Swelling in the abdomen area.
  • Comes a lump in the stomach.
  • Bowel movements and urination.
Pericardium and testicular mesothelioma are very rare types of mesothelioma. Pericardium Mesothelioma typically causes symptoms of chest pain and respiratory distress, while testicular mesothelioma is characterized by swelling or the emergence of bumps in the testicular area.

Symptoms of mesothelioma are not specific and can be caused by other conditions. Therefore, immediately meet the doctor if you feel the above symptoms, especially if you have a history of asbestos exposure.

Diagnosis of Mesothelioma

The doctor will suspect a patient suffering from mesothelioma if there are symptoms, which is reinforced by a physical examination. But to make sure, imaging tests need to be done. Among them are:
  • Photos of X-rays, to detect any abnormalities, such as thickening in the lung lining, fluid in the pleural cavity, or changes in the shape of the lungs.
  • CT scans, to examine the chest and abdomen area, as well as to detect signs of cancer, determine the location of cancer, and check if cancer has spread to other organs.
  • PET (Positron Emission Tomography). Examination by using compounds that contain radioactive atoms injected into the body to obtain a detailed description of the tissues suspected of having cancer cells.
  • MRI, to get a more detailed picture of the network determines the location of the tumor.

In addition, the doctor may also suggest an advanced check in the form:

1. Inspection of liquid samples. If the patient is experiencing fluid buildup in the body related to mesothelioma, the doctor will take a sample of fluid using the needle inserted through the skin into the area where the liquid is located. Furthermore, liquids will be analyzed in the laboratory to detect the presence of cancer cells. There are several types of fluid and tissue sample tests, namely:
  • Thoracentesis, the sampling of fluid in the area of the pleural cavity.
  • Paracentesis, taking fluid in the abdominal cavity.
  • Pericardiocentesis, intake of fluid in the lining (membrane) around the heart.

2. Biopsy, which is the procedure of lifting tissue samples from certain parts of the body to be analyzed in the laboratory. There are several types of biopsy examination, namely:
  • Needle biopsy. This type of biopsy by using a long needle is inserted through the skin into the chest or stomach cavity to take tissue samples.
  • Thoracoscopy, laparoscopy, and mediastinoscopy. This type of biopsy using a camera elastic hose and a special surgical device is inserted through one or more small incisions to take tissue samples. This type of sample lifting procedure generally depends on the area of the body undergoing examination, namely:
  1. Thoracoscopy, to examine the space between the lungs and chest wall.
  2. Laparoscopy, to examine the inside of the abdominal organs.
  3. Mediastinoscopy, to examine the area around the heart.
  • Biopsy through surgery. For some conditions, the doctor will perform an invasive procedure to take a larger sample of tissue to determine the diagnosis. Sometimes, the doctor will also perform the removal procedure of the entire tumor if possible. There are two types of biopsy procedures through surgery, namely:
  1. Torakotomi, a type of biopsy conducted through open surgery in the chest.
  2. Laparotomy, a type of biopsy conducted through open surgery in the abdomen.
  • Bronchoscopy biopsy. The procedure of lifting tissue samples by using a long, thin-sized elastic tube is inserted through the throat to examine the respiratory tract.

Mesothelioma Stadium

Based on its spread rate, mesothelioma is divided into four stages. This staging allows the doctor to identify the progression of cancer cells in the body and determine the treatment step that will be performed. The four stages of the mesothelioma, namely:
  • Stage 1: Tumors are still local, i.e. only in one area of the body and the cell of mesothelioma has not yet spread to other tissues or organs. Surgical action is performed to remove the tumor. The life expectancy of the patients diagnosed stage 1 mesothelioma is 21 months or more.
  • Stage 2: Larger tumor size and mesothelioma cells begin to spread to nearby areas. Tumor removal surgery can still be done, although the results are not very effective. Life expectancy for mesothelioma Stage 2 patients is 19 months or less.
  • Stage 3: Mesothelioma cells have spread to the surrounding organs. Surgery is no longer effective as some cancer cells have spread to other areas. The life expectancy of mesothelioma Stage 3 patients is about 16 months.
  • Stage 4: Cell mesothelioma has spread to various areas throughout the body through the bloodstream. Treatments that are still in the research phase will be offered to patients to lengthen the patient's chances of life. The life expectancy of the end-stage mesothelioma patients is very low, which is about 12 months.

Mesothelioma Treatment

Mesothelioma is one type of cancer that is rare and has not been cured until now. Treatment is done to control or reduce the symptoms experienced and extend the patient's life opportunity. Treatment steps are generally determined based on several factors, namely:

  • Overall age and health condition of the patient.
  • Types and locations of mesothelioma.
  • Stage or spread of cancer cells in the body.
  • Size of Mesothelioma
Based on the consideration above, there are several treatment steps that the doctor may recommend:

  • Chemotherapy, treatment therapy with anticancer drugs to destroy or inhibit the growth of cancer cells that can not be eliminated by surgical action. Chemotherapy can be done before or after surgery to shrink the tumor, facilitate the process of removal of the tumor, and reduce the risk of cancer reappears.
  • Radiation therapy (radiotherapy), treatment therapy with X-rays and proton beams, focused on specific areas of the body. Radiotherapy is usually performed after the patient undergoes surgical procedures, to remove the remaining cancerous cells. Treatment therapy is also done to reduce the symptoms of advanced cancer when surgery is not possible.
  • Operating. Surgical action is performed when mesothelioma is still in its early stages. There are a number of action options doctors may take during surgery. Among them are:
  1. Removal of cancer cells as much as possible from the sufferer body. This action can support the treatment of patients with radiotherapy to relieve pain and inhibit the growth of cancer.
  2. Fluid suction due to fluid buildup in the chest area that can interfere with breathing. This action is performed by inserting a catheter tube into the chest to suck out the fluid. The doctor may also inject the drug to attach the pleural cavity so that the fluid cannot accumulate any more. This action is known as Pleurodesis
  3. Removal of tissues around the abdominal cavity, ribs, or lungs affected by cancer cells.
  4. Removal of affected parts of the lung organs and surrounding tissues. This procedure is usually followed by radiotherapy.
  • Multimodality therapy. This therapy is a combination of three or more treatment steps, such as surgery, postoperative chemotherapy, and radiation therapy to increase the success rate of treatment.
  • Research stage. The doctor will inform the patient about the treatment method which is still in the research phase. However, the possibility of the patient to heal is not known for sure, so it needs to be considered carefully. On the other hand, this method of treatment can increase the chances of a doctor to learn more about the treatment of mesothelioma. There are several methods of treatment that are still in the stage of research that patients can do, namely:
  1. Biological therapy – Using the immune system of the sufferer to fight cancer, or also known as immunotherapy.
  2. Gene therapy – Converts the genes contained in the cancerous cells to stop the disease.
  3. Targeted therapy – using medications to attack the abnormalities occurring in the cancer cells.
  • Supportive treatment. This treatment can help sufferers in controlling the signs and symptoms of mesothelioma, such as:
  1. Breathing exercises, to control breathing when sufferers experience difficult symptoms of breathing.
  2. Body relaxation exercises, to reduce the tension of the breathing muscles so that sufferers can more easily breathe.

Prevention of Mesothelioma

The main precautionary measure of mesothelioma is avoiding contact with everything that contains asbestos. If you are working in an environment at high risk of asbestos, then follow the safety regulations established by the company. Among them are:
  • Use personal protective equipment while in a working area prone to asbestos.
  • Dispose of the remaining asbestos material in a safe place and does not harm the environment.
  • Do not bring home clothes and shoes used during work
In addition, there are several things that can be done to reduce the risk of mesothelioma, namely:
  • Perform regular health screening to detect symptoms or signs of disease related to asbestos.
  • Quit. Cigarettes do not directly cause mesothelioma, but cigarettes become a trigger factor and can increase the risk of various types of cancer, including mesothelioma.
  • Learn and follow instructions on safe asbestos handling in the immediate environment. Do not remove any asbestos-containing material.

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