Mesothelioma is a rare cancer caused by the development of cancer cells in the mesothelium, which is a protective sac that covers the internal organs of the body. Cases of mesothelioma are known to commonly develop in pleura, the thin membrane covering the lungs, or peritoneum, the thin membrane that covers the organs in the abdomen. Asbestos exposure is the main risk factor of mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma tumors can be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). Malignant pleural mesothelioma is caused by development of cancer cells in the pleura. People who work in jobs that lead to inhalation or swallowing of asbestos are more prone to developing this cancer. Its symptoms, however, may take a long time to appear after asbestos exposure.
Malignant pleural mesothelioma may be caused by other risk factors like coming in contact with people with asbestos exposure or a certain type of virus.
Pain in the chest or shortness of breath are symptoms of malignant pleural mesothelioma. Since it is similar to lung cancer, certain tests need to be performed for its accurate diagnosis. Tests like complete physical exam and medical history, chest X-ray and Complete blood count (CBC), sedimentation rate, biopsy, fine-needle aspiration biopsy and cytologic exam are performed.
For diagnosis, tests are performed by making an incision in the wall of the respective organ and inserting the required device through it for diagnosis, like thoracoscopy (using thoracoscope) and Peritoneoscopy (using peritonesoscope). Laparotomy and Thoracotomy involve making incisions in the organ’s wall for finding any disease signs. Bronchoscopy is performed using a bronchoscope which is inserted into the trachea and lungs through the nose or mouth.
Malignant pleural mesothelioma treatment may be done by surgery, radiation therapy or chemotherapy. However, prognosis or chance of recovery is affected by factors like stage, tumor size, etc.