Pleural mesothelioma is a form of cancer in the pleura (protective lining of the lung). It is caused by exposure to asbestos fibers and inhaling the fibers into the lungs.
What is Pleural Mesothelioma?
How Is Pleural Mesothelioma Treated?
This surgery involves the complete removal of the diseased lung, including the diseased pleura. It is the most common curative treatment for stage 1 and 2 pleural mesothelioma patients. Many patients who received this treatment reached remission.
This surgery involves removing pleura of the lung, as well as all visible tumors, and spares the lung. It is considered less radical than the EPP and has been successful in the treatment of pleural mesothelioma for many patients.
This is commonly used to reduce the size and strength of tumors prior to, during and after pleural mesothelioma surgical procedures. The standard chemotherapy drugs used are Alimta combined with cisplatin.
This is one of the least invasive treatment options for pleural mesothelioma. Radiation is commonly used to destabilize and shrink tumors. Radiation techniques are developing to specifically target tumors, leaving healthy tissue unharmed.
- 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. There have also been cases that linked pleural mesothelioma to spread to the brain, although this is uncommon.
Depending on the results of the biopsy and if 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. However, this connection has not been fully investigated. The genetic links may actually be sourced to common exposure to asbestos-related environments.
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 the other vital organs are nearby.
Veterans with 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.