Mesothelioma is a type of fatal cancer primarily caused by inhaling air contaminated with asbestos fibers. The asbestos fibers reach the pleural lining of the internal organs, causing scarring and inflammation, often leading to lung cancer. Unfortunately, the life expectancy of someone diagnosed with mesothelioma is not more than 12 months in most cases. However, treatment is available, but medications, chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation can only improve the prognosis in the patient.
What actions to take when you are diagnosed with mesothelioma?
Feeling helpless, discouraged, and scared is normal for anyone diagnosed with mesothelioma. But overcoming this predicament, looking for options to minimize the damage is in the best interest of the affected parties. Therefore, one thing that the patients and their families must do is file a mesothelioma claim. A mesothelioma claim, also known as an asbestos claim, is filed against those responsible for you or your loved one’s exposure to asbestos. The accused may be the manufacturers of the products with asbestos, causing cancer in the patient. The affected party should file a claim for compensation to cover the medical and travel expenses, loss of employment, future financial help, and the cost of pain and suffering. Please continue reading below to learn more about mesothelioma, its types, symptoms, and causes.
Type and symptoms of mesothelioma
The types of mesothelioma depend on its location inside the patient’s body and variation in the tumor cell. In most cases, mesothelioma develops on the outer surface of the lungs, while other cancer locations include the abdomen, heart, and testicles. Here are some commonly occurring types of mesothelioma and their symptoms.
- Pleural mesothelioma
This is the most common form of mesothelioma, which develops in the pleural lining covering the lungs. Nearly 70-75% of the total mesothelioma diagnosed patients report this type of cancer. Most clinical trial studies have also been conducted on pleural mesothelioma. Early-stage aggressive surgery often gives the best results for treating pleural mesothelioma. But unfortunately, it is rarely diagnosed in the early stages since symptoms appear in the later stages of the tumor.
Symptoms of pleural mesothelioma include fatigue, weight loss, chest pain, fever, and difficulty breathing. Predominantly, patients with pleural mesothelioma qualify for chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Some reach the stage where they are eligible for clinical trials or immunotherapy. With the help of these therapies, the patient’s life expectancy may increase by three or more years in stage 1 to one year in stage four.
- Peritoneal mesothelioma
Cancer that forms in the abdominal lining (peritoneum) is known as peritoneal mesothelioma. It is the second most prevalent type and accounts for 10-20% of the total mesothelioma diagnosis. The prognosis of peritoneal mesothelioma is better than the one mentioned above.
Major symptoms include loss of appetite, bloating, swelling, abdominal pain, and bowel changes. Research indicates that 50% of the patients are eligible for surgery coupled with heated chemotherapy—a procedure also known as HIPEC. After diagnosis, the patient can survive for at least five or more years.
- Pericardial mesothelioma
The rarest form of mesothelioma is the tumor of the protective heart sac, also known as the pericardium. So far, this cancer has been diagnosed in approximately 150 cases. The symptoms include irregular heartbeat, chest pain, shortness of breath, and cough. The patients have lived for more than the average life expectancy of six months with early surgical treatment.
- Testicular mesothelioma
This is the last type of mesothelioma, which, as the name suggests, occurs in the testicles of the patient. Precisely, it forms in the tunica vaginalis lining of the testes of the affected person. This accounts for less than 5% of the total mesothelioma cases. Local trauma and inflammation are known to increase the severity of this type of mesothelioma. The primary types of treatments applicable for such cancer include surgery and chemotherapy. Following a diagnosis, the patients can live for more than two years on average.
Cause of mesothelioma
A person’s exposure to asbestos is the primary cause of mesothelioma, and the deadly fiber reaches the internal organs through breathing or swallowing. Asbestos was a material used mostly in construction or building materials. Asbestos exposure is the most common cause of mesothelioma, and those working at construction sights are at high risk. Mesothelioma symptoms often do not appear even after fifteen years of exposure, but once they do, cancer develops at a face pace.
Mesothelioma cell types and their response rate
There are three cancerous cells found in the mesothelioma tumors. Their response to various cancer treatments also varies from each other. The three cancer cells are:
These cells are most responsive to cancer treatment. This type of mesothelioma accounts for 70% of mesothelioma diagnosed cases. These cells improve prognosis in the patients and are least aggressive compared to other cell types. Epithelioid cells also do not spread as quickly as others. For example, half of the pleural mesothelioma and 75% peritoneal tumors are epithelioid.
It is the least common amongst mesothelioma cells and the most challenging to treat. Among all the mesothelioma diagnoses, it accounts for 10-20% of the cases. You may also hear other names such as spindle or diffuse malignant fibrous mesothelioma. They account for 20% of the pleural tumors and 1% peritoneal mesothelioma.
A tumor with Sarcomatoid cells and Epitheliolid cells is called Biphasic. The life expectancy depends on which type of cancer appears after the diagnosis. The presence of more Epitheliolid cells means a better prognosis, but if the tumor is majorly sarcomatous, the treatment becomes challenging, often resulting in less life expectancy.
Getting diagnosed with mesothelioma is the worst moment of your life, but an early diagnosis also means knowing the type of mesothelioma and the suitable treatment. Proper treatment can also improve the prognosis and life expectancy of the patient. Consulting your doctor about the suitable treatment can be the first step in the right direction.
At the same time, no victim of asbestos exposure should neglect their right to apply for financial compensation to meet the cost of usually expensive and prolonged treatment of mesothelioma. The compensation can help you through the difficult time by lessening your financial burden and holding the culprits accountable for their negligence.