A brief on Malignant pleural mesothelioma
Malignant pleural mesothelioma is a very rare but aggressive disease, occuring in pluera, which is a thin layer of tissue surrounding the lungs.
The major cause of mesothelioma is inhaling microscopic asbestos fibres. When these fibres reach the lungs, they accumulate in the pluera, damaging the cells and leading to cancer. This is a very slow process and takes decades to show symptoms. The symptoms generally show after 20-50 years of exposure.
Malignant pleural mesothelioma is the most common among the four other mesotheliomas. It is diagnosed in almost 75% cases of mesotheliomas in USA. This disease is mostly detected in factory workers, shipyard workers, construction workers, mechanics, etc., who are occupationally exposed to asbestos.
Symptoms of Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma
The initial symptoms are very common, just like those of other less serious diseases. They are chest pain, breathing problem, fatigue and weight loss. Hence the doctors often misdiagnose the disease. The most serious symptoms like painful breathing, coughing out blood and difficulty in swallowing are not visible until the later stages of cancer.
Diagnosis of Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma
As this cancer is not very common, it sometimes take months or even years to diagnose it by specialists.
To start with effective diagnosis, the doctors will ask the patient for total medical and occupational history. Then the doctor asks the patient to undergo multiple imaging tests X-ray, CT Scan, or PET scan.
The next and most important step is biopsy. A biopsy is where a sample of tumor is taken out through thoracoscopy. The pathologist then examines the sample to find out what kind of cancer the patient is suffering from.
Staging the severity of Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma
Stage 1 : It comprises of two categories. a) the cancer is located on the outer side of the pleura, very close to the chest wall. b) when the cancer is located on both the outer and inner side of pluera which is close to the lung.
Stage 2 : Stage 2 is declared when the cancer has already spread to the lung tissue, diaphragm and also to the linings of the chest cavity.
Stage 3 : The cancer has penetrated beyond the lining and affected other internal parts like lymph nodes, oesophagus, trachea, etc.
Stage 4 : The cancer is now not only restricted to the lungs but also has spread to the brain, spine and prostate. At this stage the cancer cannot be treated through surgery.
Treatment for Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma
The two main surgeries for this cancer are Extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP) and pleurectomy/decortication (P/D). Both of them play different roles in removing the cancer.
It helps in killing the cancer cells with the help of a drug. The dosage and frequency are determined by personal physicians, totally depending upon your health, weight and cancer stage.
It is always combined with other treatments. Radiations can be given along with chemotherapy. It provides with a pain relief on its own.