Mesothelioma's symptoms may not appear until 20 to 50 years after exposure to asbestos. Shortness of breath, cough, and pain in the chest due to an accumulation of fluid in the pleural space are often symptoms of pleural mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma that affects the pleura can cause these signs and symptoms:
* chest wall pain
* pleural effusion, or fluid surrounding the lung
* shortness of breath
* fatigue or anemia
* wheezing, hoarseness, or cough
* blood in the sputum (fluid) coughed up
In severe cases, the person may have many tumor masses. The individual may develop a pneumonia, or collapse of the lung. The disease may metastasize, or spread, to other parts of the body.
Tumors that affect the abdominal cavity often do not cause symptoms until they are at a late stage. Symptoms include:
* abdominal pain
* ascites, or an abnormal buildup of fluid in the abdomen
* a mass in the abdomen
* problems with bowel function
* weight loss
In severe cases of the disease, the following signs and symptoms may be present:
* blood clots in the veins, which may cause thrombophlebitis
* disseminated intravascular coagulation, a disorder causing severe bleeding in many body organs
* jaundice, or yellowing of the eyes and skin
* low blood sugar level
* pleural effusion
* pulmonary emboli, or blood clots in the arteries of the lungs
* severe ascites
A mesothelioma does not usually spread to the bone, brain, or adrenal glands. Pleural tumors are usually found only on one side of the lungs.
Mesothelioma cancer is currently treated through three treatments, depending on the cancer location, the disease stage, and the patient's general health and age. These treatments are surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy, which sometimes are combined to fight the disease in so far as possible.
In a surgery, one of the most common treatments for mesothelioma, the doctor removes part of the lining of the abdomen or the chest and some tissue around it. In a pneumonectomy, the doctor may also remove one lung when the patient has pleural mesothelioma or cancer of the pleura. In other surgical procedure, the doctor may also remove part of the diaphragm, the muscle below the lungs that helps with breathing.
Through these procedures, the medical specialist shall try to excise tumorous tissue arising from this cancer disease. As these operations will reduce the patient's respiratory capacity, the surgeon will evaluate the patient's ability to function after a lung tissue removal, before performing a pneumonectomy.
Another method to fight Mesothelioma is chemotherapy or the use of anticancer drugs to kill cancer cells throughout the body. These drugs are given to the patient by an intravenous procedure, an injection into a vein. Currently, experts are studying the effectiveness of intracavitary chemotherapy or the possibility of giving chemotherapy straight to the chest or abdomen.
Radiotherapy or radiation therapy is the use of high-energy rays to destroy malignant cells and shrink tumors. It is important to know that this medical procedure attacks the cancer cells only in the treated area. There are two ways of giving this therapy. One, external radiation, in which the radiation comes from a machine, and other, internal radiation, where the cancer cells are found after putting materials that produce radiation into the affected area.
Doctor's way to relieve patient's pain is to use a needle or a thin tube to drain fluid that has built up in the abdominal or chest cavities through a procedure called thoracentesis, when it is from the chest, and paracentesis, when the removal is from the abdomen. The specialists may also give the drugs through a tube in the chest to prevent the accumulation of more liquid.