Diseases & Conditions


MesotheliomaCausesMedicationsPreventionRisk FactorsSymptomsTreatmentTypes

What is Mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma, also known as malignant mesothelioma, is a very rare type of cancer which occurs on mesothelium, the protective lining that envelopes most internal organs of the human body and is caused as a result of exposure to asbestos. The condition affects the pleural membrane which is the external lining of the internal chest wall and lungs. It can also affect the peritoneum, pericardium, tunica vaginalis as well as the heart.

Causes of Mesothelioma

Exposure to asbestos occurs to almost all people at some time or another in their lives. However all of them do not succumb to the ill effects of Mesothelioma. Nevertheless, exposure can occur when persons working in manufacturing facilities related to asbestos come into contact with their family members. The material can be brought home in various ways such as on the worker’s apparel, hair or skin. Mesothelioma can also occur in those who live in or around areas where asbestos products are manufactured. However not all persons who are exposed to asbestos develop Mesothelioma, but more than 80 per cent of those suffering from pleural Mesothelioma do so from exposing themselves in some way to particles of asbestos. Prevalence of mesothelioma tends to be higher in those people who inhabit regions where asbestos occur naturally.

Medications for mesothelioma

Medications for malignant mesothelioma in chemotherapy include cisplatin alone or in tandem with pemetrexed (Alimta) or raltitrexed. Vitamin supplements such as folate and Vitamin B12 are also prescribed to the patients to offset the side effects of pemetrexed chemotherapy.

Prevention of mesothelioma

Since mesothelioma is consequent upon exposure to asbestos fiber, avoidance of those areas in which manufacture or cutting of asbestos sheets occurs. For those who are working in asbestos manufacturing facilities protective nose covering should be worn.

Risk factors of mesothelioma

It has been noticed that asbestos tend to mediate the ingress of alien DNA into the target cells. Absorption of such DNA may result in oncogenesis as well as mutations via various potential mechanisms.

Symptoms of Mesothelioma

Symptoms of mesothelioma might not be apparent until 20 - 50 years after exposing oneself to asbestos. They are…

  • Loss of breath
  • Cough
  • Chest pain due to pleural effusion

Symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma

  • Loss of weight
  • Cachexia
  • Swelling of the abdomen
  • Pain resulting from ascites or accumulation of fluid within one’s abdominal cavity
  • Obstruction of bowel movements
  • Abnormalities related to the clotting of blood
  • Fever
  • Aremia

If mesothelioma has extended into other portions of one’s body, the following symptoms might be apparent.

  • Pain
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Swelling of neck and face

If Mesothelioma affects the pleura, it might cause…

  • Pain in the chest wall
  • Pleural effusion
  • Loss of breath
  • Anemia
  • Fatigue
  • Cough, hoarseness or wheezing
  • Coughed up blood in one’s sputum

If mesothelioma becomes severe, one might have several masses. In such a case, one might develop pneumothorax, or collapse of the lung. Mesothelioma may spread or metastasize to other parts one’s body. However, mesothelioma never spreads to the brain, adrenal glands or the bone. Pleural tumors tend to affect the lungs only on one side.

Treatment for mesothelioma

Treatment for mesothelioma is dependent on several factors that include the following.

  • The stage of mesothelioma
  • Where mesothelioma is
  • How far mesothelioma has spread
  • How does mesothelioma visible under a microscope
  • Patient’s age as well as desires

Basically, three traditional types of treatment are available for people suffering from malignant mesothelioma. They are...

  • Surgical removal of the parts affected by malignant mesothelioma.
  • Chemotherapy or treatment with drugs in order to fight mesothelioma.
  • Radiation Therapy or the use of high-dose x-rays or some other rays of high-energy to destroy cancer cells

These treatments can be used in appropriate combinations too.

In the treatment of mesothelioma time is of the greatest essence. This is because those who are diagnosed with mesothelioma are usually informed that their expected time of survival might only be 8 to 12 months. However, oncologists dealing with malignant mesothelioma at leading cancer institutions offer better statistics. Doctors usually prefer to treat patients of mesothelioma in the early stages itself.

Types of Mesothelioma

As Mesothelioma develops as a result of inhaling particles of asbestos, the condition is not further classified.