Malignant mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive cancer that affects the mesothelium, or the lining around the internal organs. It usually affects the lungs and presents itself as a form of lung cancer, although the tissue around the heart, abdomen or testicles can also be affected. Mesothelioma is primarily caused by asbestos, and many patients are diagnosed after years of prolonged asbestos exposure. There is no known cure for mesothelioma, but treatment is possible in the disease’s earlier stages.
The symptoms of mesothelioma will depend on where the cancer appears. Its most common form is pleural mesothelioma, which affects the tissue surrounding the lungs. The symptoms of pleural mesothelioma include chest pain, a painful cough, unusual lumps under the skin of the chest and unexplained weight loss. Peritoneal mesothelioma affects the tissue in the abdomen and causes abdominal pain and swelling. As with pleural mesothelioma and other forms of cancer, unexpected weight loss may also occur.
There are other forms of mesothelioma such as pericardial mesothelioma and mesothelioma of tunica vaginalis, but these are so rare that their signs and symptoms are often unclear. Pericardial mesothelioma affects the tissue surrounding the heart, while mesothelioma of tunica vaginalis affects the tissue surrounding the testicles. Pericardial mesothelioma might cause chest pains, and mesothelioma of tunical vaginalis might cause swelling in the testicles.
According to Shrader & Associates, a source of information regarding mesothelioma symptoms, mesothelioma is caused by microscopic asbestos fibers that are inhaled or ingested. Since asbestos fibers are so durable, they remain in the body for decades. This creates scar tissue and eventually cancer in the mesothelium. It can take decades for mesothelioma symptoms to appear, and the disease often isn’t diagnosed until it’s in its advanced stages. This can make treatment very difficult, and since there is no known cure for mesothelioma the prognosis is usually very grim.
When mesothelioma is caught early enough, treatment can consist of chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery to remove tumors. Sadly, many mesothelioma treatments are palliative and only serve to treat the symptoms and relieve pain as much as possible.
A mesothelioma diagnosis is often very grim, but there is some hope for the future. As doctors are learning more about this rare form of cancer, they have developed new experimental treatments such as immunotherapy that show some promise.
Facing a Mesothelioma Diagnosis
Almost all mesothelioma cases have been fatal, especially since the cancer isn’t diagnosed until it is in its advanced stages. This is why it’s very important that you get help if you’re experiencing mesothelioma symptoms. Even if your mesothelioma is too advanced to be treated, you may still be entitled to some kind of compensation. Many cases of mesothelioma have been the result of negligence on the part of employers who have exposed workers and their families to asbestos over a period of years. There are law firms across the United States who specialize in asbestos exposure cases, so feel free to contact one in your area if you believe you have malignant mesothelioma. It may be too late to save your life, but a settlement may still be able to pay for your treatment and ensure that your family will be cared for.