Mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer usually found in the lining of the abdomen or lungs. In very rare cases, it can also develop in the lining of the testicles or heart. Regardless of the point of origin, malignant cells from the mesothelium can spread to nearby tissues and damage them in the process.
Getting diagnosed with mesothelioma can take a toll on the patient and their loved ones. Fighting mesothelioma is a tough battle that negatively impacts the patient’s physical, mental, and financial well-being. It is not easy to withstand the fight alone; the patient needs to be surrounded by professionals in the medical field and loved ones for constant support.
It would help if you were well-versed with mesothelioma so you could explore your treatment options and manage the disease effectively. Let’s look at some of the things you must know about mesothelioma.
- How Common Is Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is not as common in the United States as in other parts of the world. The number of people diagnosed with mesothelioma annually is around 125 million and the total cases reported in the States per year are roughly 3000. The rare cancer is more common in men between the ages of 45 and 85 as it usually presents itself 20 to 40 years after exposure to harmful radiation.
- Who Can File a Mesothelioma Lawsuit?
People diagnosed with this rare cancer are eligible to secure financial compensation through mesothelioma lawsuits if the underlying cause behind it is asbestos exposure. If the lawsuit can prove that the mesothelioma was due to asbestos exposure, the individual is viable for around $1 million in compensation. Some types of mesothelioma lawsuits include Mesothelioma Personal Injury Lawsuit, Mesothelioma Wrongful Death Lawsuit, and Mesothelioma Class-Action Lawsuits and Multidistrict Litigation.
- What Are The Risk Factors for Mesothelioma?
Risk factors resulting in mesothelioma include radiation therapy, age, and genetics. The most significant risk factor that results in mesothelioma is perhaps asbestos exposure. Statistics show that roughly eight out of ten people diagnosed with mesothelioma report asbestos exposure as the cause. Despite the ban on the use of asbestos, individuals who work as plumbers, miners, electricians, insulators, pipefitters, or remodelers are still at a high risk of exposure. Moreover, the risk of mesothelioma increases with age; however, even children are at risk of the disease if exposed to radiation therapy. Furthermore, around 1% of patients get diagnosed with mesothelioma due to a genetic mutation passed down by a parent.
- What Are Mesothelioma’s Effects on the Body?
The symptoms of mesothelioma depend on the tumor’s location and are usually not noticeable until it reaches a more advanced stage. The most common symptoms of mesothelioma include lower back or chest pain, shortness of breath, difficulty in swallowing, dry cough, fatigue, swelling in arms and face, nausea, constipation, weight loss due to loss of appetite, and blockage of the small intestine. A majority of lung mesothelioma patients die due to pneumonia or respiratory failure. Patients may also die from heart complications if the tumor spreads to the pericardium.
- How is Mesothelioma Diagnosed?
The doctor starts with a physical exam to check for lumps to diagnose mesothelioma. Among the first tests that a doctor runs is a CT scan or chest X-ray to assess signs of any previous asbestos exposure. After identification, the pleural fluid needs to be drained using ultrasound-guided needle aspiration. This step does not confirm mesothelioma diagnosis; instead, it excludes the possibility of other causes that may result in a buildup of the fluid. The essential step to ensure the mesothelioma diagnosis is obtaining and analyzing a tissue sample through a biopsy.
- What Are Some Treatment Options for Mesothelioma?
After a mesothelioma diagnosis, the disease is classified among one of the many subtypes. Post classification, the doctors gauge the spread and development of the disease and then test the patient’s lungs and heart to assess whether they will be able to withstand the treatment. The treatment options in question include the following:
As the name suggests, this form of treatment involves getting rid of cancer from the pleural lining while sparing the patient’s lungs. Even if surgical resection doesn’t cure cancer completely, it can still help to reduce pleural buildup to prevent breathing difficulties.
Another treatment method, namely systematic or targeted therapy, involves medication, which is administered in a combination of two or three drugs. Roughly two decades ago, the combination of the drugs pemetrexed and cisplatin became the standard treatment plan for pleural mesothelioma.
The treatment options within clinical trials include the use of immunotherapy and drugs called small molecule inhibitors. These drugs and immunotherapy fight against the cancerous cells in the body. However, most of the drugs are yet to be approved by the FDA. This is why they are currently administered solely on a trial basis.
- How to Manage Mesothelioma?
Regardless of the treatment option you go for, you need to manage your mesothelioma effectively to improve the quality of your life. A common problem faced by mesothelioma patients is shortness of breath, which can be controlled by removing pleural fluid. If the patient is experiencing pain, it can be alleviated by working with a physiotherapist who can prescribe medication to help ease the pain. The patient needs to take any pain seriously, resulting in fatigue, poor nutrition, and lack of sleep. Palliative care is a crucial component to help patients manage their mesothelioma and control their symptoms. Palliative care specialists can help patients improve their physical well-being and the emotional effects of the symptoms.
Over the years, several treatments for mesothelioma have been found by researchers; however, it still remains highly brutal and deadly. Getting diagnosed with mesothelioma can have various familial, physical, emotional, and financial implications on your life. If you or someone close to you is diagnosed with mesothelioma, make sure to understand the disease carefully before weighing your options. You also need to be aware of your legal right to financial compensation in case of asbestos exposure. A more sound understanding of mesothelioma can also help you manage it better.