Malignant Mesothelioma and Treatment
General Information About Malignant Mesothelioma
Malignant mesothelioma is a
disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the
lining of the chest or abdomen.
is a disease in which malignant
are found in the
(the thin layer of
that lines the chest cavity and covers the lungs)
or the peritoneum
(the thin layer of tissue that lines the
and covers most of the
in the abdomen). This summary is about malignant
mesothelioma of the pleura.
Being exposed to asbestos can
affect the risk of developing malignant mesothelioma.
Many people with malignant mesothelioma
have worked or lived in places where they
After being exposed to asbestos, it usually takes a long
time for malignant mesothelioma to occur. Other
for malignant mesothelioma include the following:
- Living with a person who works near asbestos.
- Being exposed to a certain
Possible signs of malignant
mesothelioma include shortness of breath and pain under
the rib cage.
Sometimes the cancer causes
to collect around the lung or in the abdomen. These
may be caused by the fluid or malignant mesothelioma.
Other conditions may cause the same symptoms. A doctor
should be consulted if any of the following problems
- Trouble breathing.
- Pain under the rib cage.
- Pain or swelling in the abdomen.
- Lumps in the abdomen.
- Weight loss for no known reason.
Tests that examine the inside of
the chest and abdomen are used to detect (find) and
diagnose malignant mesothelioma.
Sometimes it is hard to tell the
difference between malignant mesothelioma and lung
cancer. The following tests and procedures may be
exam and history: An exam of the body to check
general signs of health, including checking for signs
of disease, such as lumps or anything else that seems
unusual. A history of the patients health habits,
exposure to asbestos, past illnesses and treatments
will also be taken.
x-ray: An x-ray
of the organs and bones inside the chest. An x-ray is
a type of energy beam that can go through the body and
onto film, making a picture of areas inside the body.
blood count (CBC): A procedure in which a sample
is drawn and checked for the following:
rate: A procedure in which a sample of blood is
drawn and checked for the rate at which the red blood
cells settle to the bottom of the test tube.
The removal of cells or tissues from the pleura or
peritoneum so they can be viewed under a microscope by
to check for signs of cancer. Procedures used to
collect the cells or tissues include the following:
aspiration biopsy: The removal of part of a
lump, suspicious tissue, or fluid, using a thin
needle. This procedure is also called a needle
(cut) is made between two ribs and a thoracoscope (a
thin, lighted tube) is inserted into the chest.
- Peritoneoscopy: An
incision (cut) is made in the abdominal
wall and a peritoneoscope (a thin, lighted tube) is
inserted into the abdomen.
An incision (cut) is made in the wall of the abdomen
to check the inside of the abdomen for signs of
An incision (cut) is made between two ribs to check
inside the chest for signs of disease.
A procedure to look inside the trachea
and large airways in the lung for abnormal
areas. A bronchoscope
(a thin, lighted tube) is inserted through the nose or
mouth into the trachea and lungs. Tissue samples may
be taken for biopsy.
exam: An exam of cells under a microscope (by a
pathologist) to check for anything abnormal. For
mesothelioma, fluid is taken from around the lungs or
from the abdomen. A pathologist checks the cells in
Certain factors affect prognosis
(chance of recovery) and treatment options.
(chance of recovery) and treatment options depend on the
- The stage
of the cancer.
- The size of the tumor.
- Whether the tumor can be
removed completely by surgery.
- The amount of fluid in
the chest or abdomen.
- The patient's age and
general health, including lung and heart health.
- The type of mesothelioma
cancer cells and how they look under a microscope.
- Whether the cancer has
just been diagnosed
or has recurred
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