Pleural Mesothelioma – Diagnosis, Causes, And Treatments of Pleural Mesothelioma

Pleural Mesothelioma – Diagnosis, Causes, And Treatments of Pleural Mesothelioma

Pleural Mesothelioma – Diagnosis, Causes, And Treatments of Pleural Mesothelioma


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Home Page > Health > Diseases and Conditions > Pleural Mesothelioma – Diagnosis, Causes, And Treatments of Pleural Mesothelioma

Pleural Mesothelioma – Diagnosis, Causes, And Treatments of Pleural Mesothelioma

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Posted: May 25, 2010 |Comments: 0
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Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer almost exclusively caused by asbestos exposure. Pleural mesothelioma is the most common type of mesothelioma, a rare cancer that develops in the mesothelial cells that make up the mesothelium, a membrane that lines many of the body’s organs and cavities.

In the case of pleural mesothelioma, the cancer develops in the lining of the lungs, called the pleura or pleural membrane. Pleural mesothelioma accounts for most cases of mesothelioma, about two thirds of all diagnosed cases. Pleural mesothelioma typically develops in one layer, but can metastasize, or spread, to the other layer. As with other types of mesothelioma, pleural mesothelioma is difficult to diagnose since symptoms do not typically arise for some time after initial asbestos exposure occurs.

Like all mesothelioma cancers, pleural mesothelioma is caused by asbestos exposure and develops when the toxic asbestos fibers become trapped in the spaces between the mesothelial cells. Once trapped in the body, asbestos fibers cause cancerous cells to divide abnormally, resulting in the thickening of the pleural membrane layers and mesothelial cells, causing build-up of fluid (called pleural effusion).

In cases of pleural mesothelioma, asbestos exposure occurs via inhalation of asbestos fibers. Also, pleural mesothelioma is sometimes referred to as an asbestos lung cancer. These asbestos fibers become imbedded in the lining of the lung (the pleura). Over time, they cause chronic inflammation that eventually leads to growth of cancerous tumors or, in some cases, asbestosis.

Pleural mesothelioma patients who are not diagnosed early enough for curative treatment have fewer treatment options, mostly limited to palliative treatments, designed to relieve pain and discomfort to improve a patient’s quality of life, rather than their prognosis. Pleural mesothelioma cancer represents about 75 percent of all mesothelioma cases. Pleural mesothelioma patients display all three types of mesothelioma cancer cells: epithelioid mesothelioma, sarcomatoid mesothelioma and biphasic mesothelioma.

Pleural plaques are localized scars (fibrosis) consisting of collagen fiber deposits that form as a result of exposure to asbestos. Pleural plaques first appear around 20 years after a person is exposed to asbestos. Pleural plaques can form even with low-dose, intermittent exposure. Pleural mesothelioma’s symptoms are not specific, and may indicate other, less serious, conditions.

Since pleural mesothelioma is the most common form of the cancer, more research and knowledge about this type of mesothelioma is present to utilize when detailing a treatment plan. Understanding available treatment options is often very important to patients and their loved ones. Typically, patients will receive a combination of two or more of these types of treatment. Early detection of pleural mesothelioma can improve a patient’s mesothelioma prognosis considerably, and these patients have more extensive treatment options.

Patients diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma in stage one or two generally have greater treatment options and a better prognosis. Palliative treatments include removal of built-up fluid from the pleural spaces, and surgical removal of tumors to relieve pressure on the lungs. Radiation & chemotherapy are common mesothelioma treatment options. A variety of new and novel mesothelioma treatments are available, as are a variety of clinical trials. While prognosis for pleural mesothelioma patients typically ranges between four and 18 months, there are several traditional and alternative treatment methods that may prolong a patient’s life expectancy.

The survival rate was also affected by the type of mesothelioma cancer cells; patients with biphasic cell types have the shortest life expectancy. However, pleural plaques are almost always present in patients with asbestosis and are often present in patients with mesothelioma. The current five-year survival rate for mesothelioma patients is about 10 percent.

Once mesothelioma is diagnosed, it’s important for patients to maintain good eating habits in order to better combat the disease. Many patients die within six months of diagnosis, some last up to a year, but few survive much beyond that length of time. While there is no cure for mesothelioma in any of its classifications, nearly all patients will receive some sort of mesothelioma treatment to extend life expectancy and lessen discomfort.

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