Sunday, August 16, 2009


Mesothelioma is a form of cancer that is almost always caused by exposure to asbestos. It is due to the malignant cells develop in the mesothelium, a protective lining that covers most of the body's internal organs. It's most sommon site is the pluera which is the outer lining of the lungs and internal chest wall, but it may also occur in the peritoneum ( the lining of the abdominal cavity), the heart, the pericardium ( a sac that surrounds the heart) or tunica vaginalis.

Most people who develop mesothelioma have worked on jobs where they inhaled asbestos particles, or they have been exposed to asbestos dust and fiber in ither ways. It has also been suggested that washing the clothes of the family member who worked with the asbestos can put a person at risk for developing mesothelioma. Unlike lung cancer, there is no association between mesothelioma and smoking, but smoking greatly can increase risk of other asbestos-induced cancer. Compesation via sabestos funds or lawsuits is an important issue in mesothelioma.

The symptoms of mesothelioma include shortness of breath due to pleural effucion (fluid between the lung and the chest wall) or chest wall pain and general symptoms such as weight loss. The diagnosis may be suspected with chest x-ray and CT scan, and is confirmed with a biopsy (tissue sample) and microoscopic examination. A thoracoscopy (inserting a tube with a camera into the chest) can be used to take biopsies. It allows the introduction of substamces such as tale to obliterate the pleural space ( called pleurodesis) which prevents more fluid from accumulating and pressing on the lung. Despite treatment with cemotherapy, radiation therapy or sometimes surgery, mesothelioma carries a poor prognosis. Research about screening tests for the early detection of mesothelioma is ongoing.

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