Pleural mesothelioma is the most common type of malignant mesothelioma. Around two thirds of those diagnosed have the pleural mesothelioma type. This form of mesothelioma affects cells in the pleura, the name given to the lining of the lungs and chest cavity. The pleura has two layers: the parietal layer (an outer layer that lines the chest cavity and diaphragm) and the visceral layer (an inner layer that lines the lungs).
Asbestos Exposure & Pleural Mesothelioma
People who are exposed to asbestos breathe in tiny asbestos fibers that enter the pleura of the lungs. Once in the lungs, these asbestos fibers then cause changes in pleural cells that cause them to become cancerous.
Symptoms of Pleural Mesothelioma
All forms of mesothelioma are particularly dangerous because two or three decades can elapse between asbestos exposure and the onset of cancer symptoms. In addition, the early symptoms of mesothelioma cancer are non-specific, and these symptoms often resemble those of a simple and non-threatening viral infection.
Symptoms of pleural mesothelioma can include the following:
- Persistent coughing, rasping, difficulty in breathing or swallowing, coughing up blood
- Weight loss
- Fever or night sweats
- Swelling of the facial area
- Shortness of breath, even when resting
- Severe chest pain, or pain in the rib area
Pleural Mesothelioma Diagnosis
Diagnosis of pleural mesothelioma is typically made on the basis of these symptoms and on the results of a more thorough physical examination. Chest x-rays, CT scans, and MRI scans are all commonly used during diagnosis, and will also help to determine an appropriate course of mesothelioma treatment , as these procedures will show whether or not the cancer has spread from its point of origin.
Diagnosis is confirmed with a needle biopsy, tissue biopsy, or both. During a needle biopsy, fluid is drawn from the area and is then tested for the presence of cancer cells. A tissue biopsy usually involves a relatively non-invasive surgical procedure called laparoscopy, in which a small piece of tissue is removed from the affected area, to be tested for the presence of malignant cells.
Pleural Mesothelioma Treatment
Due to the nature of mesothelioma, diagnosis is often not made until the cancer has progressed to a stage at which curative treatment is not possible. Most treatments for pleural mesothelioma are palliative and are carried out to relieve the symptoms and improve the patient's quality of life. Conventional treatment options are limited to surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
In cases where curative surgery is attempted, the patient must be in otherwise good health, and the disease must not have spread far beyond its point of origin. In such cases, part or all of one lung may be removed.
Learn More about Pleural Mesothelioma
Contact mesothelioma treatment center today to learn more about your treatment and financial options if you or someone you love has been diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma.