The type of cancer that arises in the lining of the mesothelium is called malignant mesothelioma. The mesothelium is a thin layer covering most internal organs, such as the heart, lungs, and abdomen. It also covers the outer surface of several organs.
Malignant mesothelioma is a very aggressive and dangerous form of cancer. The primary factor that is responsible for malignant mesothelioma is asbestos exposure. It occurs mostly in men than in women, as men tend to work in jobs involving heavy asbestos exposure.
Types of Malignant Mesothelioma
The most common types of malignant mesothelioma are:
Pleural mesothelioma: It is one of the most common types of malignant mesothelioma. It starts in the lining of the chest.
Pericardial mesothelioma: They are very rare and start in the covering around the heart.
Peritoneal mesothelioma: It originates in the lining of the mesothelium in the abdomen.
Tunica vaginalis mesothelioma: Also known as paratesticular mesothelioma, it starts in the covering of the testicles.
Symptoms of Malignant Mesothelioma
The symptoms of mesothelioma depend upon the site of cancer. The signs and symptoms of malignant mesothelioma are:
- Abdominal pain and swelling
- Fluid build-up in the abdomen
- Unexplained weight loss and loss of appetite
- Difficulty in breathing or shortness of breath
- Heart palpitation
- Chest pain
- Heart murmurs
- Fluid in the scrotum (hydrocele)
- Swollen testes or testicular pain
- Lump in the abdomen or scrotum
Causes of Malignant Mesothelioma
The exact cause of the genetic mutations leading to mesothelioma is not known. However, several factors increase the risk of mesothelium mesothelioma, such as:
- Increased age
- Exposure to asbestos
- Living with someone working with asbestos
- A family history of mesothelioma
- Experience with radiation therapy in past
- Infection with a simian virus (SV40)
Diagnosis of Malignant Mesothelioma
Different tests used to diagnose malignant mesothelioma are:
- Blood Tests: The increased levels of substances such as Flbulin-3 and soluble mesothelin-related peptides in the blood are an indicator of mesothelioma.
- Biopsy: It is the only way to confirm malignant mesothelioma. It helps the doctor find mesothelioma and its stage by examining the sample of tissue taken from the suspected area.
- CT Scans: Computerized tomography produces a precise, detailed image that helps to determine the extent of mesothelioma and whether it has affected the lymph nodes.
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging Scan (MRI): The doctor uses the MRI to see the affected areas by mesothelioma, and how much spreading or metastasis has occurred.
- Fluid Testing: During this procedure, a sample of the fluid in the suspected area is removed and examined to check for malignant mesothelioma. The fluid can be removed from the belly, chest, or sac around the heart.
- Positron Emission Tomography Scan: A PET scan helps the doctor check whether the thickening of the peritoneum or pleura is cancerous or not.
Treatment of Malignant Mesothelioma
At HCG Manavata Cancer Center, we have some of the best malignant mesothelioma treatment doctors in Nashik who are skilled at managing malignant mesothelioma successfully and helping patients return to the best state of health possible. The following procedures are used for the management of malignant mesothelioma:
Surgery: The doctor performs the surgery for early-stage mesothelioma. The doctor considers surgery as a treatment option after considering factors, such as the location of the mesothelioma and whether it has spread to the lymph node. The doctor may perform the following surgical treatments to treat malignant mesothelioma:
- Local excision: In this technique, cancer, along with nearby healthy tissue, is removed.
- Pleurodesis: In this, the first fluid is drained out from the space or layers of pleura. Then, drugs are put into that space to control mesothelioma.
- Palliative surgery: It is done to ease the signs and symptoms of advanced mesothelioma.
- Pleurectomy and decortication: The surgeon removes the tumor masses from the lung surface and chest area.
Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is a common treatment choice for malignant mesothelioma. It works by shrinking the mesothelioma mass, killing the cells, and reducing the symptoms to improve the quality of a patient’s life. The doctor can administer chemotherapy through an IV route or a heated wash during the surgery.
Immunotherapy: It is the latest first line of treatment for malignant mesothelioma. Immunotherapy uses the patient’s immune system to fight mesothelioma cells. It works more effectively by precisely targeting the mesothelioma cells compared to radiation and chemotherapy. The several promising immunotherapy approaches used to treat mesothelioma include checkpoint inhibitors, oncolytic viruses, and adoptive cell therapy.
Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy is very useful when the mesothelioma has affected only a part of an organ’s lining. It works by shrinking the malignant mesothelioma cells using a high-energy beam. Radiation therapy can also be used as a palliative treatment for late-stage mesothelioma.
Targeted therapy: It is used mainly for advanced-stage mesothelioma, a tumor that cannot be removed through surgery, or mesothelioma that comes back. Targeted therapy targets the specific genes, proteins, and environment of mesothelioma cells that help them to grow, multiply, and survive.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is the survival rate of malignant mesothelioma?
Malignant mesothelioma is a dangerous condition with a low survival rate. The survival rates vary from patient to patient. Excellent survival rates are possible when this condition is detected in its early stages.
2. How does asbestos cause malignant mesothelioma?
The fibers of asbestos may be inhaled during exposure. These fibers get logged into the linings of various organs, where they are stuck. It starts damaging the healthy tissues, leading to mesothelioma.
3. Is malignant mesothelioma hereditary?
In rare cases, malignant mesothelioma can be passed down generations through a mutation in the BAP1 gene. About 1% of people have inherited malignant mesothelioma.
4. What to expect after mesothelioma treatment?
You will have regular follow up with your doctor once the treatment is done. The doctor may perform some examinations and blood tests at regular intervals to check if mesothelioma returns.
5. Is it possible to remove the asbestos fibers after the exposure?
Removing the asbestos fibers is extremely challenging, and currently, there are no medical procedures available for removing them or reversing their effects.