Understanding Mesothelioma Stages: Diagnosis and Treatment
Are you at risk for Mesothelioma? Understanding this terrible type of cancer is essential when trying to treat or prevent it.
Mesothelioma is cancer that affects the lungs, heart, and abdomen which forms in the membranes. Causes of this cancer include inhaling or ingesting microscopic asbestos fibers.
If you have Mesothelioma or are at-risk of developing it, read on for more information about diagnosis, mesothelioma stages, symptoms, and treatment.
Mesothelioma received its name because it’s the cancer of the mesothelium. Your mesothelium is a protective tissue. The mesothelium lines the pleura (Lorax and lungs), the peritoneum (abdomen) and pericardium (heart).
You can develop Mesothelioma if you’re regularly inhaling or swallowing carcinogens at your job. You can also develop Mesothelioma if you’re exposured to carcinogens in your home.
Mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer; only 3,000 cases exist every year. Mesothelioma doesn’t come to the surface until years later.
While Mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer, it’s a deadly one, especially if you have advanced Mesothelioma stages.
Types of Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma forms in one central area, and all Mesothelioma stages affect the infected area. Here are the core types:
When you inhale asbestos in significant amounts, it usually affects your pleura. Pleural Mesothelioma is the type of Mesothelioma that affects your lungs.
When you have Pleural Mesothelioma, the lining of your lungs becomes infected, which makes it unable to protect and lubricate your lungs.
This type of Mesothelioma affects the lining of your stomach and abdomen. The peritoneum is a similar tissue to the mesothelium, so this type of Mesothelioma is very common.
When you swallow asbestos fibers, your stomach and the digestive system becomes infected by cancer.
This is Mesothelioma of the heart. The prognosis is poor because this type of Mesothelioma is very rare. However, your symptoms will be very severe; treatment includes alleviating symptoms, surgery, and chemotherapy.
This type of Mesothelioma is so rare, documentation is only limited to 100 cases. This type of Mesothelioma affects the testicles.
Regardless of the type of Mesothelioma, each type has a stage. The stages are:
No spreading has occurred to the lymph nodes. There are several treatment options available.
Little spreading has occurred to the lymph nodes and the Mesothelioma exists in one part of the body. There are several treatment options including more aggressive options.
Metastasis is occurring. The lymph nodes and surrounding organs are becoming infected. Limited surgical options are available.
Mesothelioma exists throughout the body. The cancer is difficult to treat except for the symptoms.
Mesothelioma develops by inhaling or ingesting carcinogens. Because of this, you’ll develop severe symptoms, but you may not notice them right away.
Early Stage Symptoms
- Shortness of breath
- Pain/press in the chest and abdomen
- Dry cough
- Difficulty breathing
- Pleural Effusions
- Slow immune response
Advanced Stage Symptoms
- Severe chest and stomach pain
- Weight loss
- Hacking cough
- Persistent respiratory problems
Pleural Mesothelioma Symptoms
- Dry coughing and wheezing
- Chest pain
- Pleural effusions
- Reduced chest expansion
- Shortness of breath
- Coughing up blood
- Blood clots
- Peritoneal Mesothelioma Symptoms
- Abdominal swelling
- Constipation and digestive issues
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal pain
- Weight loss
Pericardial Mesothelioma Symptoms
- Difficulty breathing
- Chest pains
- Heart palpitations or irregular heartbeat
It’s difficult to identify Mesothelioma in its early stages, so most don’t become diagnosed until it has spread or became severe. It takes between 10 to 40 years for Mesothelioma to become noticed.
Diagnosing errors are also common because cancer and symptoms mimic other diseases; for example, Pleural Mesothelioma mimics lung cancer.
If you work at a job or live in an environment with high asbestos exposure, be sure to inform your physician and receive annual check-ups.
Here are some common methods of Mesothelioma diagnosis
Your doctor will order imaging scans when you experience abnormalities in the stomach or lungs. X-rays are great tools for doctors to see any issues in these areas.
If your doctor can’t find any issues in the X-rays but symptoms persist, this could mean the cancer is deep in the tissues.
Other imaging scans include:
- Computerized Tomography (CT) Scan
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
- Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Scan
Blood Test and Biomarkers
A blood or biomarker test is usually done with the SOMAmer panel.
When your doctor checks with Mesothelioma, your doctor will measure your levels of mesothelin. Higher mesothelin levels indicate Mesothelioma.
Pathology and Histopathology
If imaging tests and biomarkers can’t identify Mesothelioma, the next step is either a pathology or histopathology.
To be positive of diagnosis, tissue samples are observed for cancer growth.
All three of these methods certify diagnosis. If you’re unsure of where to receive a diagnosis, resources such as MesotheliomaHelp.org are available.
When someone has Mesothelioma, they can face invasive treatment procedures and even shorter life expectancy. However, several treatment options are available to ease Mesothelioma symptoms and even cure cancer.
Treatment depends on how far cancer spread and where the cancer is centrally located.
Here are the most common types of Mesothelioma treatment:
If the cancer is caught early or hasn’t advanced, a basic multimodal treatment will be administered. This treatment attempts to target cancer from all angles.
This includes chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery. This helps alleviate symptoms and shrink the tumor.
Aggressive stages of Mesothelioma requires more invasive treatments. However, these treatments have improved chances of remission.
Examples include surgery that removes the tumor and surrounding cancerous tissue. Radiation that targets the tumor may also be used.
Know the Mesothelioma Stages
Anyone can be affected by Mesothelioma. Asbestos can be ingested or inhaled by anyone, and carcinogens always have a negative effect on our bodies.
It’s important to understand the facts and symptoms of Mesothelioma. If you are diagnosed with Mesothelioma, you can start treatment and be on the road to recovery.
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