Pleural mesothelioma is a cancer of the protective lining of the lung, known as the pleura. It is caused by inhaling asbestos fibers into the lungs. It is the most common form of mesothelioma.
What is Pleural Mesothelioma?
How Is Pleural Mesothelioma Treated?
This surgery involves the complete removal of the diseased lung and lining. It is a common curative treatment for stage 1 and 2 pleural mesothelioma patients.
This surgery involves removing the diseased pleura but spares the lung. It is less radical than the EPP, but has led to similar survival times in patients.
The standard chemotherapy drugs for pleural mesothelioma are Alimta combined with cisplatin. Chemotherapy is often used before and after surgery.
Radiation techniques are developing to specifically target tumors, leaving healthy lung tissue unharmed. It is the least invasive treatment option for pleural mesothelioma.
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Why Choose Dr. David Sugarbaker?
- His patients regularly outlive their prognosis
- He developed the modern EPP
- Involved in mesothelioma research
- Lower Back Pain
- Shortness of Breath (dyspnea)
- Unexplained Weight Loss
- Swelling of Face or Arms
- Fluid Buildup (Pleural Effusion)
- Chest Pain (Pleurisy)
- Dry or Painful Cough
- Fever or Sweating
- Tissue Lumps in the Chest
- Coughing up Blood (Hemoptysis)
Pleural mesothelioma can be hard to detect because its symptoms, such as shortness of breath and fever, are common in other respiratory ailments. Because mesothelioma is so rare, general practitioners may not readily recognize mesothelioma as a possible diagnosis. Fortunately, research is constantly underway to discover more effective ways to detect mesothelioma.
Can Pleural Mesothelioma Spread to Other Organs?
Mesothelioma in the pleura can metastasize to the lymph nodes, which can cause cancer to spread throughout the body more quickly. It is common for it to metastasize to the central organs, such as the heart and diaphragm. There have also been cases that linked pleural mesothelioma to spread to the brain, but this is uncommon.
Depending on the results of the biopsy and how much the cancer has spread, a patient is diagnosed with a specific stage of pleural mesothelioma. The stages range from 1 to 4.
The 4 Stages:
The cancer is only located in the pleural lining of the lungs.
The cancer has spread to more of the lung, part of the diaphragm, and localized lymph nodes.
The cancer has metastasized to nearby organs and more lymph nodes
The cancer has spread to the other organs and all lymph nodes are fully involved.
Genetic factors may also play a role in the development of mesothelioma. It seems some people who are exposed to asbestos have a genetic makeup that puts them at a higher risk of developing mesothelioma. However, this connection has not been fully investigated.
Pleural Mesothelioma Develops When:
1Inhaled asbestos particles irritate the pleura, resulting in inflammation. This can include both the visceral (inner) or the parietal (outer) pleura.
2The body cannot expel all of the asbestos fibers. These fibers cause the pleural tissue to develop into scar tissue.
3The scar tissue causes genetic damage and tumors. It takes anywhere from 10 to 50 years after asbestos exposure for mesothelioma to develop in the pleura.
Generally, it develops in the lining of the lungs and then spreads to the rest of the lung, the chest wall, or the nearby diaphragm. The central location of the lungs in the body means mesothelioma can easily spread to nearby organs.
Veterans with Pleural Mesothelioma
The largest group (over 30 percent) of people diagnosed with mesothelioma is military veterans, specifically those who served in the Navy. Asbestos was so applicable as an insulator in military vehicles, naval vessels and bunkers that it was virtually impossible to avoid inhaling airborne asbestos fibers at some point.
This is why veterans make up the largest group of patients with pleural mesothelioma and why the VA grants them certain benefits. Veterans who have been diagnosed with this disease should be aware that:
- Disability benefits are usually available to all veterans with mesothelioma, and these benefits can offset the costs of treatment, travel and missed work.
- Finding a specialist is imperative because general oncologists are inexperienced in treating this rare disease.
- There are pleural mesothelioma specialists in the VA health system who lead treatment centers that rival the top mesothelioma cancer centers.
Learn more about what veterans can do to support their families and live longer in our free Veteran’s Support Guide.