Understanding Mesothelioma: Types, Causes, and Symptoms

Understanding Mesothelioma: Types, Causes, and Symptoms

Inhaling asbestos particles over an extended period can lead to severe health conditions, notably mesothelioma—a rare and aggressive cancer.

Health SundanisLawOffice.Com – Inhaling asbestos particles over an extended period can lead to severe health conditions, notably mesothelioma—a rare and aggressive cancer. Mesothelioma primarily affects the mesothelium, the protective lining of organs like the lungs, abdomen, and heart. It is most commonly found in the lung lining. This aggressive cancer comes with a grim prognosis, as patients diagnosed with mesothelioma typically have an average life expectancy of only 12 to 21 months. However, effective treatments can extend patients’ lifespan. Let’s explore the different types of mesothelioma, its causes, and its symptoms.

Types of Mesothelioma

There are four primary types of mesothelioma based on their location:

  1. Pleural Mesothelioma: This type affects the pleura, the lining of the lungs, and is the most common form of the disease.

  2. Peritoneal Mesothelioma: Occurring in the peritoneum, the lining of the abdomen, this type targets the abdominal cavity.

  3. Pericardial Mesothelioma: This type affects the pericardium, the protective layer around the heart.

  4. Testicular Mesothelioma: Targeting the tunica vaginalis, the protective layer around the testes, this is the rarest type.

Additionally, there is a benign form of mesothelioma called solitary fibrous tumor, which affects the lungs and chest cavity, but it is not discussed in this article.

Causes of Mesothelioma

Although the exact cause of mesothelioma is not fully understood, it is often linked to asbestos exposure. Asbestos, a heat-resistant and fire-resistant mineral, has been extensively used in construction materials like roofing due to its properties. When asbestos breaks down, whether through mining or building renovations, it releases fine fibers or dust. These fibers can be easily inhaled and become lodged in organs, particularly the lungs. Swallowed fibers can also travel through the lymphatic system, leading to the development of cancer in the peritoneum.

Symptoms of Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma develops gradually, often taking 20 to 60 years for symptoms to appear. Consequently, patients may not experience any symptoms in the early stages. However, as cancer cells progress and begin to exert pressure on nerves or other organs, symptoms become apparent.

For pleural mesothelioma, symptoms may include:

  • Fever and night sweats.
  • Profound fatigue.
  • Persistent cough with severe pain.
  • Shortness of breath due to fluid buildup in the lungs.
  • Unexplained weight loss.
  • Chest pain.
  • Hoarseness.
  • Difficulty swallowing.
  • Shoulder or upper arm pain.
  • Swelling or deformities in the fingertips (clubbing).
  • Subcutaneous nodules on the chest.

Peritoneal mesothelioma symptoms encompass:

  • Night sweats or fever.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Unintended weight loss.
  • Diarrhea and constipation.
  • Abdominal pain.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Swelling or lumps in the abdominal area.
  • Disturbances in bowel and urinary habits.

Mesothelioma is a formidable cancer, primarily caused by asbestos exposure, which affects the lining of various organs. Its symptoms vary based on the affected organ, and its aggressive nature makes early diagnosis challenging. Although the prognosis can be grim, advancements in treatments offer hope for extending the lives of those affected by this disease.