What is Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is a cancerous disease that starts its way from a thin layer of tissue that covers the organs of our body (Source). This layer of tissue is known as the mesothelium. In Mesothelioma, a cancerous group of cells grow and start destroying the nearby tissues. These cells can spread to other parts of the body as well.
The mesothelium is made up of two layers. The inner layer of the Mesothelium surrounds the different organs which include lungs, heart, and stomach. The outer layer of the Mesothelium forms an outer covering around the inner layer. Between the two layers, there is a small quantity of fluid. The fluid acts as a cushion to assist the free movement of the organs and provide enough elasticity to enable proper functioning.
Mesothelium covers all the organs, and its name depends on the organ it covers. For instance, the mesothelium that lines the heart is called pericardium (covering the heart sac), and when it covers the lungs, it’s called pleura (lining the thoracic cavity). It protects the lungs and provides enough space for the lungs to function properly. The inner layer of the mesothelium that covers the lungs is known as visceral pleura, and the outer layer of the mesothelium that covers the lungs is called parietal pleura.
When pleura develop cancerous cells, the condition is called pleural mesothelium. It is a form of lung cancer. As mentioned above, mesothelium is a skin layer that surrounds the organs. Pleural Mesothelioma occurs in the mesothelium that surrounds the outer lining of the lungs and also the inner lining of the lung cavities. Mesothelioma has many types, but pleural mesothelioma is the most common and has many unfortunate causes.
Types of Mesothelioma
Pleural Mesothelioma can form in the:
- Visceral pleura
- Parietal Pleura
Causes of Mesothelioma
According to the latest research, the causes of pleural mesothelioma have been confirmed. These include the exposure to asbestos and other naturally formed mineral particles. The symptoms of the disease take about 30 to 50 years to appear after exposure to the causative factors. In some cases, symptoms have been found to appear even later than 50 years after the exposure. The disease mostly occurs due to exposure to asbestos in large quantities and for a long period of time.
The regions where asbestos quantity is high are reported to have more Pleural Mesothelioma patients. The occurrence of the disease is expected to increase globally if the use and exposure to asbestos will increase. Therefore, many countries have imposed a ban on the asbestos use and alternatives are being discovered and invented.
What Is Asbestos?
Asbestos is the six naturally occurring minerals that are fibrous in nature. These minerals resist heat, electricity, and fire. Asbestos particles are very minute and can only be seen through a microscope, but they have a long life and are very durable. Even the strongest chemical reactions are unable to destroy asbestos fibers. Asbestos is mainly used in commercial and industrial vicinities.
Asbestos is still used widely in millions of commercial products. The people related to those industries as employees or employers are at the most risk of developing Mesothelioma. Asbestos particles settle in the lungs and it causes inflammation. It can also result in other diseases apart from mesothelioma.
There are many types of asbestos; the properties of every asbestos compound are more or less the same. All the compounds of asbestos are fibrous in nature, and they are a proven cause of pleural mesothelioma with long-term heavy exposure.
There are four stages of mesothelioma. They are categorized according to the intensity of the disease.
In Stage 1 of Mesothelioma, the cancer is in the initial stage of forming. It has not spread to the surrounding organs or the lymph nodes. For stage 1 surgical removal of the mesothelium or the part of the organ affected can cure the condition completely.
In this stage, the Mesothelioma tumor is larger in size and unfortunately has invaded the surrounding organs. Lymph nodes may be affected, and the surgical removal of the tumor may be possible, but if the growth is at a faster pace, then there are other ways to treat the disease.
In Stage 3 of Mesothelioma, the tumor is large and has also invaded a major part of the surrounding organs. The organs which may be affected in this stage are chest wall, lymph nodes or esophagus. There are treatments that can be tried to relieve the patient of the symptoms of this malignant disease.
Stage 4, unfortunately, is the last stage of Mesothelioma. In this stage, cancer spreads to other body organs. It has affected the major parts of the body and tissues surrounding the initial site. Surgery does not remain the option, or the major body organs have to be removed, that is not a possibility. At this stage, the only treatment that is left is to reduce pain and ease the patient as much as possible.