Is mesothelioma cancer? Compared with breast or blood cancer, mesothelioma cancer may not be really often heard. However, this type of cancer is not less dangerous than those two. Yes, it is indeed classified in the group of extremely aggressive cancers but the cases are quite rare. So, what is actually mesothelioma cancer?
The Definition of Mesothelioma Cancer
Mesothelioma cancer is a kind of cancer that attacks the mesothelium, a term that refers to membranes that layer the body’s organs. This condition can be fatal if not being treated carefully. The patients are mostly those who work in industries that use asbestos as the material.
In most cases, the patients are diagnosed with mesothelioma ranges at 60 to 80 years old. Meanwhile, although treatments for healing are possible, many patients have been in a severe condition, making the treatments not effective. That’s why it is very important to do prevention once you are prone to mesothelioma cancer.
Types of Mesothelioma Cancer
There are 4 types of mesothelioma cancer. First, Pleural Mesothelioma. It is a type of cancer that attacks the pleura or lungs’ membranes. Most of the Mesothelioma cases in the world are Pleural Mesothelioma anyway.
Second, it is Peritoneal Mesothelioma, a type of cancer that attacks the peritoneum or the membrane of Billy’s cavity. Third, there is also pericardial mesothelioma, a type of cancer in the pericardium or the membrane that wraps the heart.
Lastly, it is testicular mesothelioma or mesothelioma that attacks the membrane of the testicle. Of course, it is suffered by males only.
Aside from the 4 types mentioned above, there is also a Solitary Fibrous Tumor that is relatively less severe and deadly compared with them. It attacks the lungs and the chest cavity only and it tends to be easier to heal and recover.
Causes of Mesothelioma
Although generally, the main cause of mesothelioma has not been known yet, the disease is often related to exposure to asbestos. Asbestos is a kind of substance that is often used in constructions. It has some characteristics, they are strong and heat or fire-resistant.
When asbestos is processed into ready-to-use construction material, it is often broken and it remains fiber and soft dust. The dust is easily inhaled. When it happens for a long time, the dust may enter the body’s organs, particularly the lungs, and accumulate there.
If it is accidentally swollen, asbestos fiber also spreads through the lymphatic system and accumulates. This is how the peritoneum mesothelioma happens.
Risk Factors of Mesothelioma
Sure, mesothelioma can attack everyone. However, the risk is higher for those who work around the use of asbestos. For example, it is for workers in job fields like mining areas, construction locations, automotive industry, textile industry, power plants, and many more.
Besides, be aware also if you are living in an old building that is built up using asbestos. There is a high possibility that the material has been cracked and produces more asbestos dust than a new building.
If one of your family members works in an environment with asbestos, be careful also as the dust may attach to his clothes or skin and he brings it home. A family member with a history of mesothelioma also increases the possibility of the same disease attacking others.
Symptoms of Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma is getting severe gradually and it takes a long time from 20 to 60 years. It means after working around at least 20 years in the asbestos environment, the early symptom of mesothelioma is just seen. Even in its early stage, the patient may not feel anything. But the cancer cells multiply gradually and they may press the nerves. This is how the symptoms may be seen.
The symptoms of Mesothelioma also depend on what part of the body is attacked. For pleural mesothelioma, you may feel some symptoms as follows. They are fever at night, tiresome, painful cough, hardness to breathe, significant weight loss, pain on the chest, hoarse, and bumps under the chest skin.
Meanwhile, the peritoneal mesothelioma has some following symptoms. They are fever and sweat at night, low appetite, significant weight loss, diarrhea, constipation, stomachache, nausea and vomit, bump on the belly area, and problems in defecation and urination.
Pericardial and testicular mesothelioma diseases are the rarest ones. But sure, they still also have some symptoms including respiration disorders and bumps on chest or testicle areas.
Symptoms of Mesothelioma are very similar to other conditions. Therefore, it is recommended to undergo medical checkups immediately if you experience some symptoms above. Moreover, it is if you also have a history of getting asbestos exposure.
To determine mesothelioma diagnosis, the doctor may give some questions about the symptoms and history of the patient. Physical examination is also conducted to check whether or not, it has a bump and other symptoms of Mesothelioma.
Furthermore, to ensure the diagnosis, the doctor may also conduct some scans and treatments. First, it is an x-ray to check the condition of the pleura, liquid in the pleural cavity, and change of the lung shape.
Second, the doctor may also ask you to undergo a CT scan to check the cavities of the chest and stomach. CT scan is also effective to detect the existence of cancer and check whether cancer has spread through the body or not.
Third, it is a PET scan to get details of the tissue predicted to suffer from cancer. Lastly, MRI is a type of medical scan to get detail of the location of cancer or tumor.
Some doctors also suggest a blood test, liquid sample test, and biopsy get data for further treatments. The blood test is done to detect the increase of fibulin-3, osteopontin, and peptide levels in the blood. In Mesothelioma patients, the levels of those substances are commonly higher.
Meanwhile, the liquid sample test is to know the existence of cancer cells as well as biopsy to take the tissue sample and observe in the laboratory.
Mesothelioma is one of the dangerous and deadly cancers with no medications until now. However, the patients must undergo some treatments to relieve symptoms and prevent cancer cells spread throughout the body. Treatments to use may differ from one patient to another based on factors like age, cancer location, and cancer spreading level.
The first treatment commonly suggested is chemotherapy. It works to kill and block the growth of cancer cells. It is done before the patient undergoes surgery so that cancer can be removed more easily. After surgery, chemotherapy is again conducted to reduce the risk of cancer reappearance.
Second, radiotherapy is done by radiating the patient’s body with an X-ray or proton. The therapy is conducted after surgery to remove the remaining cancer cells. Radiotherapy also functions to relieve further cancer symptoms for patients with high stadiums who cannot undergo surgery.
Third, it is surgery, only conducted for mesothelioma patients at the early to medium level. There are some options to do. They are to remove cells from the body as many as possible, to remove liquid in the lung in the pleural mesothelioma case, to remove tissues of organs with cancer cells, and to remove parts of the organ with cancer cells.
Lastly, patients may undergo multimodality therapy that is a combination of 3 treatments or more, such as surgery, post-surgery chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and more. This type of treatment is to increase the level of treatment success.