There are special cells in the body which line the cavities in the human body which includes the lining of the lung, abdomen and the heart. These cells form tissues which are called the mesothelium. This mesothelium has two layers, outer and inner. All the organs are covered by the inner layer of the tissue, and the body cavities are lined by the outer coating. Mesothelial cells like all other cells grow and sometimes abnormally which can lead to tumors. These tumors can be malignant or benign. The mesothelium tumor which is malignant is called mesothelioma.
www.mesotheliomahelp.org reports that the most common symptom of this disease is breathlessness. Apart from this, people complain about pain in chest and cough. Typically, people affected by this disease show no symptoms and can be discovered only by chest x-ray or by physical examination. If not treated, the person can experience loss of appetite, sweating and weight loss. The tumor can also cause the voice to crack and affects the functioning of the diaphragm and the adjacent organs.
Causes of Mesothelioma
Asbestos: One of the chief causes of mesothelioma is asbestos exposure. When you breathe in asbestos, the fibers present in it is inhaled, and this can reach the end of airways and then the lungs. The fiber then damages the mesothelial cells and causes mesothelioma.
Smoking: Smoking alone is not known to cause this disease, but smoking along with exposure to asbestos can increase the chances of tumor in the lungs.
Diagnosis of the disease
Biopsy is done to diagnose this disease. Usually, a buildup of fluid around the lungs is the reason behind sending for biopsy. The physician may also ask for a CT scan of the chest. Upon investigation of the patient, if the doctor finds that the person is exposed to asbestos coupled with sweating, breathlessness, chest or abdomen pain more tests like the below may be done.
Peritoneoscopy: The doctor may investigate the inside of your abdomen with a special tool called a peritoneoscope. This tool is put into the stomach to extract the excess fluid deposited in your abdomen by using a suction method. That procedure is done under anesthesia and is called paracentesis.
Thoracoscopy: An instrument is put inside your chest cavity if the fluid is collected. A small hole is made through the wall of the chest and inserts the thoracoscope between ribs. The liquid collected in the chest is sucked out. This procedure is also done under anesthesia and is called thoracentesis.
Like other cancers, patients who are suffering from this disease can be treated by surgically removing it, radiotherapy using X-rays or other forms of rays which can kill the cancerous cells or chemotherapy. Often, doctor’s combine these kinds of treatment if the disease had advanced and based on the stage of the disease, the extent of tumor size, etc.
Apart from the traditional treatment, new drugs are being tested to cure this disease. Some of them are L-NDDP, endostatin, lovastatin, etc. Photodynamic therapy is also advocated to kill cancerous cells using light energy.