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 Mesothelioma

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PostSubject: Mesothelioma   Thu Jul 28, 2011 5:41 am

What is Mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is a relatively rare form of cancer that develops in the tissue that surrounds certain internal organs of the body, including the chest, heart andabdomen. In fact, mesothelioma is named for that protective membrane, the mesothelium. The mesothelium protects the body’s vital internal organs, mainly by producing a lubricating fluid which provides a slick surface for these internal organs to slide past each other during movement.


Types of Mesothelioma

Based on the location of the tumor development, mesothelioma is most commonly divided into four different categories. These include:

Pleural: This form of cancer develops in the chest cavity and comprises about 75 percent of all mesothelioma cases.
Peritoneal: This form of cancer develops in the abdomen and accounts for about 20 percent of the cases of mesothelioma.
Pericardial: Developing around the heart, this form of cancer is rare and accounts for only about five percent of the mesothelioma cases seen.
Testicular: Extremely rare, this form of cancer can be seen in less than one percent of all mesothelioma patients.

Based on the cell appearance under a microscope, mesothelioma can also be divided into four different main categories. The American Cancer Society explains these include:

Epithelioid: The most commonly seen form of this cancer, this form tends to give patients a better prognosis than the other varieties.
Sarcomatoid, or Fibrous: Only about 10 to 20 percent of mesothelioma cancer cases are this type.
Mixed, or Biphasic: Around 30 to 40 percent of mesothelioma types are this cancer. It possesses features of both epithelioid and sarcomatoid mesothelioma.
Desmoplastic: This is a rare form of mesothelioma.

Characteristics

Mesothelioma is characterized by its low rate of successful treatment. This can be greatly explained by the delay in its development, known as latency, and its easily-overlooked symptoms. In fact, early symptoms of mesothelioma are virtually non-existent. With generic symptoms that develop slowly and mimic many other illnesses, mesothelioma is rarely diagnosed quickly in patients. Symptoms of pleural mesothelioma typically include shortness of breath, difficulty swallowing, or a persistent cough. Peritoneal mesothelioma patients may experience fatigue, nausea, the development of lumps under the skin, abdominal swelling, or pain. Pericardial mesothelioma symptoms may appear as chest pain, a cough, irregular heartbeat or fatigue. As a result of its rarity, little is known about the symptoms of testicular mesothelioma.

This slow recognition of mesothelioma helps explain its lethal quality. Like most diseases, mesothelioma is best treated in its earliest stages, when tumors are localized and the patient is healthiest. However, this is rarely possible and patients must resort to seeking treatment as their health begins to noticeably fail. Adding to the difficulty of treating this disease, many options, like surgery, are no longer available when this cancer is found in its late stages. Patient age and level of health determine the treatments available, and on account of the advanced age of most mesothelioma patients, a full range of treatments is rarely available.

Mesothelioma Symptoms

diagnose Previously, diagnosing mesothelioma in its early stages had been a difficult, almost impossible task, because the early symptoms of this disease resemble those of similar diseases and sometimes even basic illnesses. The severity of mesothelioma is defined by four stages, with prognosis becoming bleaker as each stage progresses, so the discovery of symptoms in the first two stages is essential for ensuring a greater mesothelioma life expectancy. Additionally, the difficulty in diagnosing mesothelioma is caused by a large latency period, meaning that it can take decades between the initial exposure to asbestos and development of symptoms. However, if you or a loved one has been exposed to asbestos and experiences initial symptoms such as chest pain, violent coughing, and fatigue, it is essential that you consult with a physician immediately.

Veterans and Mesothelioma

During the better part of the 20th century, the United States Armed Forces used asbestos in the production of many types of ships, buildings and vehicles, thus exposing countless soldiers and workers to this terrible mineral. At its peak, asbestos was used predominantly in factories during World War II and many U.S. veterans suffered from mesothelioma as a result, because the harmful effects of asbestos were not known until decades later. Even now, as asbestos use and production has declined significantly, many veterans could still be afflicted, unaware of the early symptoms of mesothelioma.

The Mesothelioma Support Network offers a comprehensive list of American naval vessels and military ships that were produced using asbestos, as well as a state-by-state directory of Veterans Affairs center and hospitals to assist service men and women who are suffering from mesothelioma.
Treatment


diagnose Because of mesothelioma’s great latency period, treating mesothelioma is difficult, but there is hope in recent research and clinical trials. Current medical treatment options include chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery, and most patients choose to undergo a combination of these processes in order to increase their life expectancy. But survivors of mesothelioma have shown that treatment goes beyond hospitals, and that prognosis can be better for patients through healthy dieting, regular exercise and a variety of alternative therapies. Additionally, experimental treatments are available to individual patients depending on their stage progression.
Prognosis

The prognosis for malignant mesothelioma is rarely favorable, which is why early diagnosis is so incredibly important. Yet as mentioned above, there are great strides being taken in the medical and scientific communities to ensure that life expectancy and survival rates continue to climb for patients as researchers continue to find a cure.
Legal Options

People suffering from mesothelioma have almost always been unknowingly exposed to asbestos either in the workplace or through the use of household items that contain the hazardous mineral. After diagnosis, medical bills can be overwhelming and once prognosis is achieved a patient has his family to consider as well. There are legal options available for mesothelioma victims to help achieve just compensation.

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