Mesothelioma is a serious cancerous disease with very low survival rates despite the various new treatment options that have helped in increasing the longevity of patients. Statistics indicate that the average survival period after diagnosis is one year with a slight increase to two years with aggressive treatment. It has been found that in more than 95% of cases, mesothelioma occurs due to asbestos exposure.
Asbestos is a good heat resistant material that is used by various industries to make lagging for pipes and walls. Prior to the red flags raised by various medical groups, many individuals were unaware of the dangers of asbestos exposure. Studies show that the main effects occur about 20 to 40 years after first exposed. Owing to this reason, this disease has been labeled ‘old person disease’ because it occurs when individuals are in their latter part of their lives.
One of the most common types of mesothelioma is the epithelioid mesothelioma. This type has a higher prognosis for cure where patients can access better treatment and in turn improve their life expectancy. Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that is caused in the mesothelium, the epithelium adjoining certain organs. Epithelium is a tissue found within the body that separates different regions. For example, the epithelial cells found in the skin separate the outside of the body from its inside.
The most common cause of epithelioid mesothelioma is due to exposure to very fine airborne asbestos particles. In this cancerous disease, the membrane lining of chest cavity, lungs, heart abdominal abdominal cavity becomes damaged and results in the formation of cancerous cells. 50-70% of individuals suffering from mesothelioma exhibit syntoms of epithelioid mesothelioma thus making it the most common type. The survival period for epithelioid mesothelioma is about eight and a half months depending of the patient’s physical condition.
Epithelioid mesothelioma is identified based on the unique and organized cell structure. These cells have a tubular pattern with a specific cell nucleus. This easily leads to wrong diagnosis as the cells in other forms of cancer look similar to the epithelioid cells.
Epithelioid Mesothelioma symptoms start presenting themselves 40 to 50 years after being exposed to asbestos. Its symptoms are similar to that of common bout of asthma, pneumonia or bronchitis. These symptoms include chest pain and breathlessness. Apart from these symptoms, patients also experience coughing, weakness, tiredness along with inability to absorb nutrition resulting in significant weight loss. In addition, another common epithelioid mesothelioma symptom is the collection of fluid inside the pleural space and is known as pleural effusion.The breathlessness, pain and tiredness is develops when the tumor restricts the movement of the lungs during inhalation.
The symptoms of mesothelioma also depend on the location, size and nature of the tumor. In cases where the tumor is benign, it usually does not spread. However, when the tumor is malignant, the symptoms are very severe and spread rapidly. They also exert pressure on surrounding soft tissues.
The main symptoms are:
There are many steps involved when identifying mesothelioma.