Aggressive Mesothelioma Cancer: Some Characteristics

” Mesothelioma is an aggressive form of cancer currently without a cure. Exposure to free-floating asbestos dust particles is the primary cause for getting this disease.  Generally, no amount of asbestos exposure is considered safe, and the disease almost always develops in persons that have had extensive, recurring exposure.   Once the exposure has taken hold with asbestos particles stuck in the lining of the lung(s), the detection of mesothelioma cancer may take 20 to 50 years.  The type of asbestos, fiber particle size as well as the duration of recurring exposure are decisive in the development of the mesothelioma cancer.  Today, asbestos is banned in most countries from all industries, particularly the construction industry, which only a few decades ago used it in many building materials.  Asbestos is still being consumed and used by lesser developed nations, and some nations like Canada still mine the ore and ship it to these user nations.

Mesothelioma is frequently mistaken as a lung cancer, which it is not, simply because it affects the thoracic cavity (pleura) most often as well as other thin membranes that cover the body’s organs.

Body organ membranes where mesothelioma can also develop include the abdominal cavity (the peritoneum);  the fibroserous sac which encloses the heart (the pericardium); and the serous membrane that covers the testis and epididymis (the tunica vaginalis).

Generally, symptoms of having mesothelioma include: a cough, husky voice, shortness of breath or difficulty in breathing, difficult swallowing, chest pain, abdominal swelling with pain, fatigue, anemia, loss of appetite, weight loss, fluid in the chest or abdomen, lack of sleep, and other characteristics.  Obviously, to diagnose mesothelioma is challenging and to connect the symptoms with the cancer because so many of its symptoms are easily mistaken for more common diseases that are not life threatening such as flu, pneumonia or bronchitis.

So, there are three main types of mesothelioma cancers:

  • malignant pleural mesothelioma
  • malignant pericardial mesothelioma
  • malignant peritoneal mesothelioma

And less common types of this disease include:

  • testicular mesothelioma
  • epithelial mesothelioma
  • biphasic mesothelioma
  • cystic mesothelioma
  • liver mesothelioma
  • brain mesothelioma
  • papillary mesothelioma
  • adenocarcinoma mesothelioma
  • sarcomatoid mesothelioma
  • desmoplastic mesothelioma

There are several primary options for the treatment of mesothelioma cancer:

  • mesothelioma surgery
  • mesothelioma chemotherapy
  • mesothelioma radiation

These treatments can be combined for a best-results treatment.  During surgery, the cancer cells are removed and post-surgery mesothelioma doctors usually use radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Treating mesothelioma cancer with these methods will give the patients a possible extension of five years to their lives. Additional treatments used by mesothelioma doctors are anti-angiogenesis drugs, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation therapy, gene therapy, immunotherapy, massage therapy, acupuncture, and intraoperative photodynamic therapy.

Special research and clinical trials are being conducted by the Mesothelioma Research Foundation of America on a cure for mesothelioma with good results on the early Phase I and Phase II trials.  This work is done as a collaborative effort for a mesothelioma cancer patient by a team of general practitioners, epidemiologists, pathologists, thoracic surgeons, radiation therapists, oncologists, rehabilitation specialists and psychotherapists.”


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