Pleural Mesothelioma Diagnosis
Pleural mesothelioma is cancer of the thin membrane that lines the lungs. It’s usually caused by exposure to asbestos, and can occur decades after the exposure occurred. The symptoms usually manifest slowly and can include weight loss, fatigue, coughing up blood, and swelling in the abdomen. The higher your prior exposure to asbestos, the great the risk that you will one day develop pleural mesothelioma. Biopsy is required to confirm diagnosis, and usually occurs after chest x-rays, an MRI, or a CAT scan. The best way to prevent pleural mesothelioma is to limit or remove any exposure to asbestos. Once someone has been diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma, there are few treatment options that they can undergo.
The prognosis of someone who has been diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma is not good. Of course, it depends on the stage of cancer that you have, but past certain stages there’s not much medically that can be done. In early stages a surgeon may be able to perform surgery to remove some of the tumors that may have formed, but this isn’t an option later down the line. Since pleural mesothelioma is generally resistant to both chemotherapy and radiation, those treatments aren’t used. There’s no reason to put the patient through those difficult treatments if there isn’t a likely positive effect that they’ll have.
Although radiation is often overlooked due to it’s inability to combat wide-spread pleural mesothelioma, if the cancer is localized it can sometimes have a positive outcome. Treatment with radiation is not done by itself, however. To actually cure with radiation, the levels used would have to be disastrously high and incredibly unhealthy for the patient. If the cancer is localized and radiation is used, palliative care is usually used as well to give the patient comfort during the treatment. The growing tumors can push on your organs and block arteries and veins with their mass, and palliative care can help with the pain and and can be used to relive symptoms.
Chemotherapy can also be used together with surgery to try to extend a patient’s life. Again, the earlier that your cancer is found and diagnosed, the better the chance that chemotherapy will be able to make a positive effect. By combining some of the medical techniques available, a doctor is able to come up with the best medical plan for each patient. Each plan will be individualized and some of the factors include age, health, size and location of the tumor, and end of life requests by the patient.
Unfortunately, even with medical intervention, the prognosis for people diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma is very poor. The life expectancy is short – often just months to a year – and the pain that the cancer can bring makes this time even more difficult. No matter the medical route chosen, palliative care is an important piece of the treatment puzzle. Only about 7.5% of people diagnosed with mesothelioma will live 5 years, so any way to make those last months and years as enjoyable as possible, and contacting a mesothelioma attorney whom is going to represent your rights as a victim of asbestos exposure in the work place are a “must do”.