I have been thinking of doing my research content series for a long time now. Since my background in biotechnology has helped me in identifying various things. This series will include literature reviews about any particular topic, research which I perform and awareness topics. I think it’s always better to share what you have discovered. In this way, you also gain knowledge by sharing your studies.
So today’s topic is – Do people know about Mesothelioma?
There are many types of cancer which exist and out of them, there are few we know about in detail. Spreading awareness of different types of cancer is necessary since it educates people about themselves and how to prevent and cure it. Getting to know about the symptoms and knowing about the cancer types will help in detecting at an early stage.
What is Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma (me-zoe-thee-lee-O-muh) often referred to as malignant mesothelioma which occurs in the thin layer of tissue that covers the majority of your mesothelioma i.e. internal organs. They particularly grow in the pleural membrane which is the covering of your lungs. The chest has two thin layers of cells which are an outer and inner layer and that’s why they are called pleural membrane. They are extremely thin and delicate layers. Pleural space is the space between the two layers and it contains a small amount of fluid. And it is this fluid that helps in lubricating the walls of lungs and chest expand when you breathe in and out.
Mesothelioma is considered to be one of deadly cancer. Since the cure at a later stage is incurable.
What are the types of Mesothelioma?
• Epithelioid mesothelioma is the most common type. It gives better response to treatments because it grows more slowly than the other types.
• Sarcomatoid mesothelioma is less common. The results of treatment are poor in this type because of its progressive growth.
• Biphasic mesothelioma is also uncommon. This type is more aggressive than epithelioid but grows more slowly than sarcomatoid.
The Risk Factor
Breathing in asbestos* dust is the main cause of cancer. Mesothelioma develops when a person ingests asbestos, and it causes changes to a person’s DNA with an alteration leading to a mutation in the DNA makeup. It is said that mesothelioma cancer may take anywhere between 20 to 60 years or more to develop from asbestos exposure. But there can be another possibility of developing mesothelioma cancer which can be hereditary, radiation exposure etc.
*Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibre that was widely used in construction and other industries. The fibre become lodged in the lining of the lungs, abdomen or heart. Over time, tumours begin to form on the damaged mesothelium.
The development of mesothelioma cancer takes a long time. And the symptoms can only be seen in approximately 30 to 40 years after the exposure.
What are the symptoms?
• Dry coughing
• Shortness of breath
• Respiratory complications
• Pain in the chest or abdomen
• Fever or night sweats
• Pleural effusion (fluid around the lungs)
• Weakness in the muscles
These symptoms can vary on what form of mesothelioma the person has:
Pericardial mesothelioma: which affects the tissue that surrounds the heart so the signs and symptoms such as breathing difficulty and chest pains are often seen in such case.
Mesothelioma of tunica vaginalis: which affects tissue surrounding the testicles, may be first detected as swelling or abnormal growth on a testicle.
Now let’s see the diagnosis part.
If you see unusual symptoms which indicate mesothelioma then visit the doctor where he will examine you for clumps or other signs.
The doctor may order for certain examinations such as imaging scans like chest X-Ray or CT scan for the abdomen or chest. To able to understand how deep is cancer and stage when the symptoms are obvious. The doctor will require additional tests report such as Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and Positron Emission Tomography (PET).
According to the Mayo Clinic, “Biopsy is also carried out to confirm whether the person has mesothelioma”.
The procedure is to remove a small portion of tissue for laboratory examination. This also depends on what area of your body is affected.
• The doctor might remove fluid or a piece of tissue with a thin needle inserted through the skin on your chest or abdomen.
• A fluid or tissue sample might be collected during operation. The surgeon might make a small incision and insert a tube with a video camera to see inside your chest or abdomen.
Now, this sample tissue is analyzed under a microscope. This will determine whether the abnormal tissue is mesothelioma and what types of cells are involved.
Once the stage and type are confirmed the next step is the treatments.
What are the treatments involved in mesothelioma?
Like mentioned in the initial paragraph. Mesothelioma is a deadly and aggressive cancer and its incurable.
But there are certain ways to cope up and subtract them to a certain extent.
This includes surgeries like:
# Decreasing the fluid buildup
# Removing the tissue around the lungs
# Removal of peritoneal mesothelioma
Chemotherapy uses chemicals to kill cancer cells. Systemic chemotherapy may shrink or slow the growth of mesothelioma which by surgery can’t be removed.
Radiation therapy focuses on high-energy beams from sources such as X-rays and protons to a specific spot or spots on your body. It’s often used after surgery to kill any remaining cancer cells.
• Immunotherapy uses your immune system to fight cancer. Immunotherapy works by interfering with that process. This treatment might be an option if other treatments aren’t working.
• Targeted therapy uses drugs that attack specific vulnerabilities in cancer cells. These drugs aren’t commonly used for treating mesothelioma but can be suggested after looking at the DNA testing.
Remember health is wealth and we need to help ourselves to come up and get treated as soon as possible. Never make any delays in getting to see a doctor if you notice any symptoms of any cancer. If cancer is detected at an early stage it can be treated to a larger extent. So always pay attention to what is your body trying to tell you.
Do let me know your thoughts and what you feel about the series.