It often takes many years for the symptoms of mesothelioma cancer to develop after asbestos exposure. In many cases, the disease is difficult to diagnose because its early symptoms can be mistaken for less serious illnesses. Some common early symptoms of mesothelioma include difficulty breathing, a recurring cough, raspy voice, significant and unexplainable weight loss, difficulty swallowing, and pain in the chest or abdomen.
Mesothelioma Symptoms & Palliative Care
As mesothelioma cancer progresses, so does the severity of the symptoms. Mesothelioma palliative therapy is used to treat symptoms of mesothelioma cancer and provide some relief from the pain. However, palliative therapy is not considered a curative method to aggressively treat and control the cancer itself. Palliative therapy may involve medication, behavioral and cognitive techniques, or various procedures to aid in the care of a patient suffering from mesothelioma cancer. Palliative care and treatments are typically used in conjunction with other forms of traditional mesothelioma treatments such as radiation therapy or chemotherapy.
Some of the common symptoms of mesothelioma cancer, which can be treated by palliative care, include:
- Dry Mouth
- Shortness of breath
- Loss of appetite
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Skin problems
The following are just some of the numerous approaches to treating the symptoms of mesothelioma cancer:
– Chest Tube Drainage
The accumulation of fluid, or effusion, in the chest or abdomen area is one of the most common symptoms of mesothelioma cancer. Chest tube drainage is typically used to remove the fluid from the chest or abdominal area. A doctor uses a needle or tube to gently suction excess fluid that builds up in the affected tissue. Thoracentesis is used to remove excess fluid from the pleural cavity, or chest area, through a thin needle inserted between the ribs. The procedure in which a needle or tube is inserted into the abdomen to remove fluid is called paracentesis. Post-palliative drugs are typically administered to the patient through a tube in the chest to prevent more fluid from accumulating.
– Pharmacological Therapy
Pain is another common symptom of mesothelioma cancer. A palliative approach to dealing with the pain is using pharmacological therapy, which uses medications to treat the pain. Drugs that are used may include non-opioid pain relievers, opioid pain relievers, adjuvant medications prima rily used for symptoms other than pain, and topical treatments like a patch, cream, or gel.
– Pleuroperitoneal Shunt
Pleuroperitoneal shunt is one of the least commonly used forms of palliative therapy. It involves placing a catheter under the skin from the chest area to the abdominal area. Some concerns with this form of treatment are the possibility that the catheter may be obstructed or a tumor is seeded into the abdominal cavity.
A pleurectomy may be used as a palliative procedure in the event that a more extensive surgery cannot be performed. A pleurectomy will not remove any visible tumors, but it is the most effective palliative treatment in controlling fluid build up in patients whose lung expansion is blocked from the cancer.
More About Mesothelioma Palliative Care
To learn more about other forms of therapy, you may wish to speak with your health care professional or contact a mesothelioma cancer specialist using the resources on this site.