Mesothelioma refers to one of the most lethal diseases – asbestos lung cancer. Mesothelioma, or to word it specifically ‘malignant mesothelioma’, is a type of cancer that rears its head in the cells that outline or cover specific body parts that is, the torso or chest and stomach. The protective cellular coating upon these cells is termed as ‘mesothelium’. In order to understand what is mesothelioma, you must first understand what the disease does inside the human body.
What is Mesothelioma: Affected Cells
Mesothilial cells guard the body organs by manufacturing a unique fluid that lubricates & lets the human organs to move about easily. For example, this special fluid enables the lungs to expand and contract efficiently whilst breathing.
Read more about the Symptoms
The sheath of mesothelium cells is referred to by different names in different areas of the human body like: pleura, when encasing the chest; peritoneum, when covering the stomach and pericardium, when encapsulating the heart.
Not all outgrowths or swellings can be a red flag alert! Similarly certain mesothelium tumors are cancerous whilst others are non cancerous or benign. Usually a cancerous swelling of mesothelium is clinically named as ‘malignant mesothelioma’, but colloquially it is addressed as just ‘Mesothelioma’.
Read more in the book “Surviving Mesothelioma and Other Cancers: A Patient’s Guide“
What is Mesothelioma: The Most Common Types of Mesothelioma
Depending on the appearance of mesothelioma cells from underneath a microscopic scanner, there exist 4 major kinds of mesothelioma:
1) Epithelioid – it is the most widespread kind of mesothelioma and has a marked and profound outer appearance than the rest types.
2) Sarcomatoid – this type is fibrous in nature and occurs in only one or two amongst ten instances of mesothelioma.
3) Mixed (Biphasic) – this kind has a mixture of characteristics of above two types. It is found in every three to four instances of mesothelioma amongst ten.
4) Desmoplastic – this kind is extremely rare to come across.
The chest cavity is the place of inception for around 75% mesothelioma; they are addressed as ‘pleural mesothelioma’ as the disease pleural mesothelium lining. Around 10 – 20% start up within the stomach and are referred to as ‘peritoneal mesothelioma’. Mesothelioma in and around heart is rarely discovered.
Many individuals complain of difficulty in breathing or shots of stabbing pain the chest region. However, it is to be noted that the pain is not pleuritic in nature that is it does not intensify with continuation in breathing. Some patients may not show any external signs or symptoms. In such cases the disease is discovered by bodily examination. With the progression of the malignant disease; difficulty in breathing worsens, drastic loss of weight occurs, appetite lessens, and sweating at night may occur. As the tumor swells up in size, localized symptoms specific to the body area may show up.
Read more in the book “100 Questions & Answers About Mesothelioma“
What is Mesothelioma – The Causes
Mesothelioma generally affects individuals whose profession or occupation exposed them to an atmosphere wherein they were exposed to harmful asbestos for prolonged periods of time. Generally, the risk group is mostly comprised of men aged 40 years and above in age. Some patients happen to have been shockingly & unknowingly exposed to asbestos within their domestic precincts.
Malignant mesothelioma patients can be treated via any of the three major methods available. Mostly doctors merge two of the on hand healing measures: Surgery that can scoop out the cancerous growth, radiation treatment via highly energetic X-rays to burn away the malignant cells and lastly, chemotherapy that employs medicines and drugs to wage the war against cancer.
As in any other health condition, understanding what is mesothelioma and knowing the causes behind the disease is the first step towards recovery.
Malignant mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that attacks the thin tissue, or mesothelium, that covers most internal organs. The most common type is pleural mesothelioma, a cancerous condition of the tissue surrounding the lungs, and the most common cause of pleural mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos.