Mesothelioma is a rare cancer found primarily in the lungs, but can also be found in the lining around the heart and abdominal cavity. It’s most common cause is exposure to asbestos, which is a group of six minerals with long fibers that get lodged in the pleural cavity (the small space between the lining and the lung) when inhaled.
Asbestos is found most commonly in workplaces that deal with insulation like dry wall, roofing, and flooring. It’s also been found in shipyards, automotive job sites, and incinerators. If you’ve worked in these industries and have been experiencing the below symptoms, consult your physician immediately. Mesothelioma cannot be cured, but like any other cancer, the earlier it’s found, the easier it will be to treat.
Signs and Symptoms
- Difficulty breathing
- Pain in the ribcage on inhalation
- Chest pain
- Hemoptysis (coughing up blood)
- Pain or difficulty swallowing
- Sudden, unexpected weight loss
- Ongoing nausea, diarrhea, or constipation
There are three major treatments for mesothelioma. It will depend on the stage of the disease, which is found through a series of diagnostic tests that show whether the cancer is localized to one part of the body, or if it’s spread to other organs. These three options include:
- Surgery: Major invasive surgeries like pneumonectomy can be performed if the cancer is localized to just one part of one lung. It’s a removal of that part of the lung. If caught early enough, this can be curative. Unfortunately, mesothelioma is not often caught in the early stages, so procedures or surgeries are more for palliative care than curative. Noninvasive procedures performed to help relieve symptoms include thoracentesis and pericardiocentesis, which is a removal of fluid from the lining around the lungs or heart. These procedures are quite common in patients with mesothelioma.
- Chemotherapy: This is a common treatment for all cancers; however, side effects from the drugs can be severe, so a lot of patients decide against it. Chemotherapy is used to prolong life by slowing the progression of the disease, but it has the potential to destroy quality of life, so the choice to refuse chemotherapy is a very personal one.
- Radiation therapy: This is used to try to kill the cancerous cells in order to slow the progression of the disease and help relieve symptoms. Radiation treatment is more common for patients with advanced disease because the side effects are less severe than chemotherapy.
If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, it’s important to act quickly. Seek out an environmental medical team for treatments. Ask your primary doctor for referrals, but don’t be surprised if they don’t have any. Your best option is to do a Google search for Environmental Medical Research or Mesothelioma Research in your area and go from there. It may take a few hours, but it’s well worth the effort. Asbestos is an environmental toxin and only these doctors and specialists will know the best and most efficient ways to treat the cancer. They’re highly skilled in their fields, which will make your lives a little bit easier so you can focus more on spending time with your loved ones.