Monday, October 19, 2009

Pleural Mesothelioma And Its Symptoms

By Heidi Wingrain

Inhaling asbestos filled air for longer durations result in a kind of cancer, which is called Mesothelioma. It is mainly classified into three categories. The most common among these is pleural mesothelioma and it is responsible for majority of the cases reported. In pleural mesothelioma, the protective membrane of our internal organs called mesothelium gets covered with the malicious loose asbestos fibers. This gradually damages the cells and affects its functioning. Mainly this type of cancer affects pleura, the protective lining around lungs and internal chest wall.

The pleura covering the chest wall is called parietal pleura and the protecting the lungs is called visceral pleura. The lungs can expand and contract easily due to the presence of a fluid between parietal pleura and visceral pleura. The asbestos inhaled by the workers enter the pleura after getting into the minute passages of the lungs. Formation of cancerous cells takes place as the result of a chemical reaction still unknown to the world. The cells then start dividing unnaturally resulting in the pleural lining becoming thicker and thicker. Collection of excess fluid also takes place. The affected person suffers from breathlessness, since thickening of pleura reduces breathing process.

Difficulty in breathing is of course the first symptom. This is followed by chest pain, loss weight and night sweats. What makes the disease dangerous is that the first symptoms may appear only many years after he was exposed to asbestos particles. The more number of years a person is exposed to asbestos, the seriousness of the disease will be more. The physicians may wrongly diagnose the disease making the condition fatal. The best thing to do is that if a person with a history of working with asbestos has any of these symptoms, he should immediately seek the help of a mesothelioma doctor.

Traditional treatments for pleural mesothelioma are wide and varied, though having limited success. Surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy are popular among traditional treatments. Pleorodesis, pleurectomy, decortication, pneumonectomy and extra pneumonectomy are the five different surgical treatments.

Chemotherapy is the widely accepted medicated treatment, while radiation therapy uses high energy gamma rays, X-rays or neutrons. Other therapies for the disease are intra-operative photodynamic therapy, immunotherapy and gene therapy. Above all the will power of the patient and the level of infection determine the success of treatment.

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