Mesothelioma, a kind of cancer caused mostly by inhaling asbestos filled air for long periods, is scientifically divided into three types. Pleural mesothelioma is the most common of these three and accounts for almost seventy five percent of all reported cases. The malevolent loose asbestos fibers get accumulated in the protective membrane of our internal organs called the mesothelium and slowly retard its cells and thereby, its functioning. Pleural mesothelioma particularly affects the protective lining around lungs and internal chest wall, which is called pleura.
The pleura consists of one which covers the chest wall called parietal pleura and another which covers the lungs known as visceral pleura. The easy expansion and contraction of lungs is possible because of a fluid present between these two linings. Asbestos which is inhaled enters into the minute passages of the lungs and then the pleura. The consequence is the formation of cancerous cells, due to a chemical reaction which the medical world still cannot explain. The pleura lining becomes thicker and thicker as the cells start dividing unnaturally. Excess fluid also gets accumulated. Breathing process is reduced by the thickening of the pleura resulting in breathlessness.
Difficulty in breathing is of course the first symptom. This is followed by chest pain, loss weight and night sweats. What makes the disease dangerous is that the first symptoms may appear only many years after he was exposed to asbestos particles. The more number of years a person is exposed to asbestos, the seriousness of the disease will be more. The physicians may wrongly diagnose the disease making the condition fatal. The best thing to do is that if a person with a history of working with asbestos has any of these symptoms, he should immediately seek the help of a mesothelioma doctor.
Traditional treatments like surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy have limited success against pleural mesothelioma. There are five different surgical treatments followed, namely, pleorodesis, pleurectomy, decortication, pneumonectomy and extra pneumonectomy.
Chemotherapy is the widely accepted medicated treatment. Usage of high energy gamma rays, X-rays or neutrons is involved in radiation therapy. Other options like intra-operative photodynamic therapy, immunotherapy and gene therapy are also resorted. In any case the final success will depend on the determination of the patient and the level of pleural mesothelioma infection.