The most common disease that is making headlines today is cancer. In last few years the patients of the cancer are increasing at the same time the cure is also becoming advance and more promising.
A research was conducted on 3rd January 2011 which revealed that main cause of mesothelioma is asbestos and in factories where asbestos is used in the manufacturing of products the employees of those factories are becoming victims of this disease as many young employees are suffering from mesothelioma . These employees are demanding from their government to put a complete ban on the use of asbestos in the manufacturing of products.
Being diagnosed with the cancer is a terrible experience and one gets more scared when they see the other cancer patients are passing away. If your loved ones are diagnosed with mesothalioma. You can help them in fighting against mesothelioma for which you must have the knowledge of this disease. So if you are ready to get the knowledge about this disease lets dig in….
Mesothelioma is a type of tumor of the mesothelium.
This is the thin membrane that lines the chest and abdomen and surrounds the organ in these areas. Mesothelium has different names in different parts of the body:
- In the chest it is called the pleura.
- In abdomen it is called peritoneum.
- In the membrane surrounding heart it is known as pericardium.
- A cancer of the mesothelium is called a malignant mesothelioma.
Types of Mesothelioma
There are three types of mesothelioma:
1. Pleural mesothelioma
2. Peritoneal mesothelioma
3. Pericardum mesothelioma
The pleura is the outer lining of the lung. It has two layers.
- The inner (visceral) layer, it is next to the lung.
- The outer (parietal) layer. It lines the chest wall.
The two layers of the pleura are usually in contact and slide over each other when we breathe. These layers produce fluid, which allows them to move smoothly over each other. When pleural mesothelioma develops, it makes linings thicken and may press inwards on the lung. Fluid may also collect between the two layers of the pleura. This is known as pleural effusion. Almost 3 out of 4 cases of mesothelioma develop in the pleura.
The outer lining of the abdomen is known as peritoneum. It has two layers:
- The inner (visceral) layer, it is next to abdominal organs.
- The outer (parietal) layer, it lines the abdominal wall.
Mesothelioma in the peritoneum is called peritoneal mesothelioma. It causes thickening of the linings that surround the abdominal organs and a collection of fluid in the abdomen. This collection of fluid is called ascites, it causes swelling in the abdomen and 1out of 4 cases of mesothelioma develop in the peritoneum.
A mesothelioma may develop in the outer lining of the heart known as pericardial mesothelioma, it may also occur in the outer lining of the testes which is known as testicular mesothelioma.
Cell types of Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma can be segregated according to the way these cells look under a microscope.
There are 3 main types:
- Epithelial. This is the most common type.
- Mixed, these cell type mesothelioma have both epithelial and sarcomatoid cells.
Causes of Mesothelioma
The most common cause of mesothelioma is asbestos.90% percent cases of mesothelioma are caused by exposures to asbestos fibres.
Asbestos is a natural mineral that is found in many countries. It functions as an insulator to keep heat in and cold out. It protects against corrosion and gives fire protection.
There are three types of asbestos:
- Blue asbestos
- Brown asbestos
- White asbestos.
When asbestos is damaged, it releases tiny fibres. These fibres go in to our lungs when we breathe. These fibres are very small and they easily go into the smallest airways of the lung. Once these fibres go inside the lungs it damages the defense mechanism of the body that leads to the inflammation of the lung tissue.
The asbestos fibres travel through lung tissue and settle in the outer lining of the lung that causes pleura. With the passage of time it causes mesothelioma and other lung diseases. When these asbestos fibres are swallowed they stick in the digestive system. They go to the outer lining of abdomen where it cause swelling and thickening.
Mesothelioma takes 10-60 years to develop after the exposure to the asbestos but it takes average 30-40 years after exposure.
The connection between asbestos and lung disease:
Around 2300 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma in UK every year and it is expected that this number will increase. Doctors are investigating link between abestos and lungs disease for over 100 years. The first link was made in year 1960.
Blue and brown asbestos was used in UK industries but it was banned in the year 1999. The use of all types of asbestos is harmful but the blue and the brown asbestos are the main cause of mesothelioma.
Exposure to asbestos
The constructions workers, electricians, shipbuilders, plumbers and boiler makers are exposed to asbestos at work. These jobs are mostly done by men and mesothlioma is five times more in men as compare to the women. The people who are not exposed to the asbestos they also develop mesothelioma in them and they may include:
- Family members of those people who work with asbestos and they may bring dust particles of asbestos with them.
- People who lives near asbestos factories.
Other causes of mesothelioma include radiations. Sometimes mesothelioma may also develop due to exposure to radiations.
Mesothelioma is not an infectious disease. It does not pass from one person to another. So if one member of the family has mesothelioma there are not many chances that other people will be infected too. People get mesothelioma when they are in contact with asbestos.
Symptoms of Mesothelioma
The symptoms of mesothelioma are as follows:
- Chest pain
- Difficult breathing
- Shoulder pain
- Weight loss
- Abdominal pain and swelling
These symptoms can be caused other than cancer but if these symptoms last for longer than you must consult a doctor for a proper checkup.
Diagnosis of Mesothelioma
The process of diagnosis of mesothelioma starts with seeing the family doctor, who examine and arrange some blood tests or x-rays foe the patients.
Diagnosis of the mesothelioma can be done in many ways which may include:
- Chest x-ray
- CT (computerized tomography) scans
- Pleural aspiration
- Peritoneal aspiration
- Position emission tomography scan
At hospital doctor will take your history and will do physical examination.
Pleural mesothelioma is often caused due to very small particles which are not visible in x-ray for a long time until they grow large. For diagnosis of such particles one may need different tests.
Stages of Mesothelioma
The stages of cancer refer to the size of the cancer and whether it is spread in the body. The doctor can give a best treatment if he knows the exact stage of the cancer.
There are four stages of mesothelioma:
The cancer cells are found in the pleura near lungs and heart or in the diaphragm or lungs.
The cancer spreads beyond the pleura to the lymph in the chest.
The cancer spreads in to one or more walls of chest, centre of the chest, the heart, the diaphragm, abdominal lining and in the lymph nodes.
At this stage the cancer spread to the distant organs or tissues. A staging system for perinoteal mesothelioma is not established yet. Sometimes the doctor uses the TNM staging system for this cancer.
TNM stands for tumor, nodes and metastases respectively where
- T describes tumor
- N describes the cancer that is spread to the lymph nodes.
- M describes the cancer that spreads to another part of the body.
Treatment of Mesothelioma
The treatment of mesothelioma depends on the condition whether it is only in one part of the body or is spread to the other parts of the body. There is no cure of mesothelioma other than completely removed by a surgery. If the disease is diagnosed when it is spread beyond then it is removed by an operation but the aim of the treatment is to control the symptoms.
Different treatments are used for the treatment of mesotehlioma including surgery, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy. These treatments can be used alone or they can be used in combination.
Treatments can also be used to control symptoms. These treatments may include:
- Multidisciplinary team.
- Benefits and disadvantages of treatment
- Giving your consent
- Multidisciplinary team: If patient has mesothelioma then he is looked after by a disciplinary team who will give information and support the patient.
Benefits and advantages of treatment:
The doctor explains the benefits and advantages of treatment to the patient.
- Giving your consent
Before the treatment starts the doctor explains the aims of treatment to the patient and the permission is asked for starting the treatment.
- Second opinion
The multidisciplinary team wants to give you the best treatment but still the patient is given chance to take another medial opinion.
So if your loved one is suffering from mesothelioma. Do not waste time. Read the above factors carefully. Keep yourself informed about the disease and try to save their life.