Mesothelioma is a cancer is almost completely attributed to exposure to asbestos fibers. The most common forms of mesothelioma are pleural and peritoneal or abdominal, although other forms include testicular and pericardial. Mesothelioma prognosis depends upon the stage in which the illness is detected and diagnosed.
Development of Mesothelioma
Mesothelial cells are found in the membranes that line the various cavities in the body. The pleura is the membrane that lines the chest cavity and holds the lungs; the peritoneum is the membrane that lines the abdominal cavity and holds the intestines and digestive tract; the pericardium is the membrane that lines the interior of the chest and holds the heart; and the testicular membrane holds the testes in the scrotum.
The most common forms of mesothelioma are pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma. These forms of asbestos-related cancer form when asbestos fibers are either breathed in or ingested. The fibers get ledged between mesothelial cells, which become irritated and inflamed. As a result of this irritation and inflammation, cancerous tissue and tumors develop.
Mesothelioma can be a very slow cancer to develop and symptoms are often very vague in the early stages. In pleural mesothelioma, symptoms can include a dry cough, pain on breathing, chest pains, or difficulty breathing or catching your breath. In abdominal mesothelioma, symptoms can include unexplained weight loss, constipation, diarrhea, fevers, night sweats or the development of lumps or masses in the abdominal area.
Stages of Mesothelioma
As in the case with many cancers, mesothelioma has four stages. The later the stage that a person is diagnosed, the poorer the mesothelioma prognosis is for that person. For example, someone who is diagnosed in stage three or four has some spread of the cancer from the primary site to other areas in the body. Stage four is the last stage of mesothelioma and means that the cancer has spread substantially to tissues and organs throughout the body.
Unfortunately, many individuals find that this form of cancer does not get diagnosed until the late stages of the illness, when it has been growing for as long as 30 or 40 years. People with this level of mesothelioma prognosis find that the treatment options are limited and their effectiveness is also limited.
For people who are diagnosed earlier in the illness, their mesothelioma prognosis is much better, since their options of treatment and the effectiveness of those treatments is much better than in later stages of the illness.
Treatments include surgery to remove tumors, radiation, chemotherapy and pain management. Some patients with abdominal mesothelioma opt to have chemotherapy directly injected into the mesothelium right after surgery, which has proven to be an effective treatment.