Mesothelioma is a type of aggressive cancer that still has no cure. The main cause of this disease is exposure to asbestos, which is a natural silicate. No amount of asbestos exposure is safe, although this disease develops after chronic exposure. Between the exposure itself and the detection of mesothelioma cancer, it usually takes 20 to 40 years (even 50 years). In the development of mesothelioma cancer, prolonged exposure time is of decisive importance, as is the type of asbestos and fiber size. Currently, asbestos is prohibited in construction and in all other industries, which a few decades ago used it frequently.
Mesothelioma is often confused with lung cancer because it mainly affects the pleura (thoracic cavity) among other thin membranes, which cover the organs of our body.
Other membranes where mesothelioma develops are: the peritoneum (in the abdominal cavity), the pericardium (fibrosal sac that encloses the heart) and the vaginal tunic (serous membrane, which covers the front and sides of the testis and the epididymis).
The general symptoms of mesothelioma are: cough, hoarse voice, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, difficulty swallowing, chest pain or swelling and abdominal pain, fatigue, anemia, loss of appetite, weight loss, cachexia, fluid in the chest or abdomen, inability to sleep.
It is very difficult to diagnose mesothelioma and connect symptoms with cancer because many of the symptoms can be easily confused with other more common diseases, which are not life-threatening, such as heart disease, influenza, pneumonia or bronchitis.
As mentioned earlier, there are three main types of mesothelioma cancers: malignant pleural mesothelioma, malignant pericardial mesothelioma and malignant peritoneal mesothelioma.
Other types of mesothelioma (not very frequent): testicular, epithelial, biphasic, cystic, hepatic, cerebral, papillary, adenocarcinoma, sarcomatoid and desmoplastic mesothelioma.
There are three main options for treating mesothelioma cancer: surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. These three treatment options are often combined for effective treatment. During surgery, cancer cells are removed and postoperative mesothelioma doctors usually use radiation therapy and chemotherapy. The treatment of mesothelioma cancer with these methods will give patients a possible five-year extension to their lives. Additional treatments used by mesothelioma doctors are antiangiogenesis medications, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation therapy, gene therapy, immunotherapy, massage therapy, acupuncture and intraoperative photodynamic therapy.
To effectively treat a patient with mesothelioma cancer, a unified and effective cooperation of general practitioners, epidemiologists, pathologists, thoracic surgeons, radiation therapists, oncologists, rehabilitation specialists and psychotherapists is required.