Mesothelioma – What is it?
We often come across the term Mesothelioma. Let us see why it is important to know about it and why to take it seriously enough.
Mesothelial cells refer to those which act as a protective layer over the important organs like heart, lungs and internal organs of the abdomen. Mesothelioma refers to a malignant tumor which affects the mesothelial cells.
Causes of Mesothelioma
The cancer is so serious the patient usually dies within 2 years of developing it, although the health of the patient and similar factors may prolong his/ her life for some more time.
Pleural mesothelioma, which affects the pleura – a thin membrane separating the chest and the lungs – is the most common mesothelioma.
It has been estimated that about 3,000 new cases of mesothelioma emerge every year and there will be about 300,000 such cases before 2030. It usually affects men of age 40 and above.
Mesothelioma reveals itself slowly. A continual pain in the chest is the first symptom of it. Later, difficulty in breathing accompanies this pain, as fluid accumulates in the chest. Coughing, fever and loss of weight are other symptoms. A CT-scan of the chest can reveal the cancer.
If you had been exposed to loose asbestos fibers ANY time during your lifetime, you must test regularly for mesothelioma. This is because, exposure to asbestos can cause cancer even after as long as 50 years, because of the high latency characteristics of asbestos.
The 4 stages of Mesothelioma
In the First stage, the tumor is seen in the lining of the lung, usually in only one side of the chest.
In the Second stage, the tumor spreads to other organs in the chest cavity such as the heart or lymph nodes.
In the Third stage, the tumor expands to the other side of the chest or it spreads into the abdominal organs.
In the Fourth and final stage, the cancer spreads to other parts of the body far outside the chest area (liver, brain, bone, etc…).
Mesothelioma is highly dangerous. As previously stated, a patient could survice hardly for 2 years after diagnosing it. However, if one detects it in the early stage and treat it belligerently, he or she can survive for many more years to come and lead a quality life.