All About Mesothelioma
According to a report by the World Health Organization, Mesothelioma might lead to 43,000 deaths per year. This cancer which mostly occurs in men is usually diagnosed in the age group of 65 and 74 years old. This disease is a global issue and is mostly caused due to asbestos exposure. This cancer is mostly developed in a lining covering the outer surface of some of the body’s organs. Usually, it is found in the lining of the lungs, tummy, testicles or heart. Here’s a detailed guide regarding the causes, symptoms, diagnosis and cure of Mesothelioma.
Causes of Mesothelioma
Though the most common cause of mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos, there are different ways it affects it. Asbestos is a group of minerals that constitutes microfibres and are widely used in construction. These tiny fibres can easily get stuck in the outer linings of the lungs or tummy and start damaging the body organs over time. This is the reason that the symptoms develop at a quite later stage. Other factors that might cause mesothelioma are as follows:
- Family history of this disease
- Radiation therapy on chest
- Passive consumption of asbestos
- Working in past at asbestos-prone areas
Symptoms of Mesothelioma
The symptoms of mesothelioma take a while to develop and don’t appear for years. This has led to the disturbing outlook where 1 in every 10 people live for at least 5 years after diagnosis, while 50% of people live for just one year after diagnosis. Depending on the organ which is affected, mesothelioma is classified as Pleural, Pericardial and Peritoneal mesothelioma. Pleural mesothelioma is the one that affects the lungs and the tissues surrounding it, while peritoneal mesothelioma is the one that affects the abdomen and organs surrounding it. On the other hand, in pericardial mesothelioma, the tissues surrounding the heart are affected. In a few rare cases, the testicles are infected due to it and mesothelioma of tunica vaginalis is found in patients.
Symptoms of Mesothelioma in Lung Lining
- High fever and sweating at night
- Swollen fingertips
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Sudden weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Persistent cough
Symptoms of Mesothelioma in Tummy Lining
- Loss of appetite
- Sudden weight loss
- Swelling around stomach
- Pain in tummy
- Being sick and feeling sick most of the times
Testing and Diagnosis of Mesothelioma
The testing and diagnosis of mesothelioma are recommended when a patient starts developing or has years of exposure to asbestos. This multistep process is not recommended for everyone, but depending on the severity of symptoms, doctors might suggest the screening to undergo.
Step 1 – Physical Exam
This is a very initial and basic step of diagnosis where the doctor collects the medical history, duration of asbestos exposure and symptoms. The following tests are conducted during this step of diagnosis.
- Stress Tests: These tests are conducted to check if mesothelioma cancer has been impacting the patients’ oxygen levels or heart rates. It is performed by examining the reflexes through light exercises.
- Stethoscope: In the very basic procedure that every doctor performs, using a stethoscope the doctor listens to the sound of the heart, lungs and abdomen to check if there’s any fluid buildup in the chest.
- Laryngoscopy: A bit of advanced procedure, here a tiny, thin camera fixed on a flexible arm is inserted through the patient’s throat or mouth for screening.
Step 2 – Imaging Tests
Imaging tests are performed by radiologists to determine the location and size of the tumour. These scans also help to know the stage and spread of cancer.
- MRI: Magnetic Resonance Imaging, commonly known as MRI, is performed by creating an electromagnetic field around the patient instead of using radiation. This type of scan gives detailed images and helps the doctor to understand the spread of cancer amongst the tissues. This process usually takes up to 30 to 90 minutes.
- X-ray: To take an X-ray of any body part, radiation is used to produce basic images using the X-ray machine. These reports can help in determining the fluid buildup in various body parts, be it chest, heart or abdomen.
- CT Scan: CAT, or Computerized Axial Tomography is performed by integrating hundreds of x-ray pictures to form a high-definition picture. This process is quite similar to X-rays but a larger machine with higher radiation is used to examine the smaller areas of tissues. This helps in determining cancer at quite an early stage.
- PET-CT: Positron Emission Tomography or PET is performed by using a radioactive dye, so they highlight the cancer cells upon scanning. This test helps to identify the areas with tumours and project their growth.
Step 3 – Blood Tests
MESOMARK and SOMAmer are some of the blood tests that help to determine the early signs of mesothelioma. These tests help in detecting mesothelin, a protein found in healthy patients and help to determine through the blood levels if mesothelioma is present.
Step 4 – Biopsy
Through biopsy, it can be confirmed if the patient has mesothelioma or not. The doctor collects the tissue samples and determines the type of cancer cells and their stage. A report suggests that almost 98% of biopsies have proven effective in diagnosing mesothelioma. The various types of biopsies helpful in mesothelioma are as follows:
- Fine-Needle Aspiration
- Endobronchial Ultrasound-Guided Biopsy
Treatment for Mesothelioma
As is similar to all other types of cancer, even in mesothelioma, the treatment depends on the severity and stage of the cancer. The treatment options include chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery. Chemotherapy for mesothelioma is a well-known procedure amongst others. Adding to that, there are a few emerging treatments like gene therapy, cryotherapy, and virotherapy that are proven to be more effective.
At Regency Medical Centre, we have been serving cancer patients for years. The reason that we have been able to carry it out successfully is due to the immense belief and trust our patients have in us, and a wonderful, prolific team of experts that are on their toes round the clock. Various types of cancer, like mesothelioma that are unheard of, are prevalent and can affect us if not treated on time. Hence, we recommend everyone to undergo regular health screenings and consult an expert doctor in case of the slightest inconvenience. The doctors at Regency Medical Centre will be happy to assist.