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Mesothelioma: What it is, Causes, and Treatment Options

Cancer of the Mesothelial Tissue(s)

Mesothelial tissue is a protective cover that surrounds most of the body’s internal organs. This type of tissue is more commonly known by the organ it surrounds. For example, the mesothelial tissue surrounding the heart is called the pericardium. The abdominal cavity is surrounded by the peritoneum. The pleura is the protective membrane that envelops the lungs and serves as a lining of the chest cavity walls. There are other mesothelial tissues as well.

Mesothelial tissue is made up of two different layers of cells. The outer layer forms a sac around the organ. The inner layer forms closely around the organ. A sort of lubrication is made from the mesothelium that is released between the two layers of cells. This allows the smooth movement of organs that are close to other parts in the body.

When the cells within the mesothelial tissue become abnormal and begin to divide uncontrollably, it becomes a disease known as mesothelioma, which is 626-782-2305 of the mesothelium. These cancer cells can spread to surrounding organs and tissues or metastasize to other parts of the body causing damage. This type of cancer is relatively rare, for only 2,000 to 3,000 cases are reported each year in the United States.

The most evident risk factor is exposure to asbestos. Asbestos is a group of minerals that occur naturally as fibers most commonly found in insulation, cement, and other industrial products. During the making of these products, particles of asbestos may float freely into the air to become inhaled or swallowed. Even in a short amount of time, this may cause serious health problems which can lead to other cancers and diseases as well.

Mesothelioma caused by exposure to asbestos may take up to 50 years for symptoms to occur. Depending on the location of the cancer, some symptoms include shortness of breath and chest pain if mesothelioma is present in the pleura. If the cancer is in the peritoneum, symptoms may include abdominal pain and swelling, anemia, blood clotting, bowel obstruction, and fever. Some people will not have significant symptoms at all. Your doctor may notice a clubbed appearance of the fingers during a physical exam. Fluid build up is common and after a positive diagnosis, your doctor may drain the excess fluid to relieve these symptoms. Complications can arise if fluid escapes the membrane around the lungs. It is very important to see your doctor about any symptoms for a correct diagnosis.

For a correct diagnosis, your doctor will perform many different tests to look for mesothelioma. Different tests are required because of the difficulty in diagnosing this disease. Sometimes the disease is misdiagnosed because the symptoms are a lot like pneumonia. A biopsy would determine a definite diagnosis. If mesothelioma is present in the biopsy tissue, your doctor will determine what stage the cancer is in and if it has spread to other parts of the body.

Treatment varies as to how far along the cancer has developed as well as the location of the cancer. Surgery to remove certain linings or tissues can be performed, as well as radiation therapy or chemotherapy. Other treatment options may include clinical trials. Ask your doctor for more information regarding clinical trials.

Additional Mesothelioma Information

National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Public Inquiries Office
Suite 3036A
6116 Executive Blvd., MSC 8322
Bethesda, MD 20892-8322
Phone: (301) 435-3848
Toll-Free: (800) 422-6237

American Cancer Society (ACS)
1599 Clifton Rd., NE
Atlanta, GA 30329-4251
Toll-Free: (800) 227-2345

American Lung Association
1740 Broadway
New York, NY 10019
Phone: (212) 315-8700
Toll-Free: (800) 586-4872
E-Mail: info@lungusa.org

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