Pleural mesothelioma is the medical term for the lethal mesothelioma lung cancer caused by the inhalation of asbestos fibers. There is no benign form of this disease; all occurrences of mesothelioma are malignant. Mesothelioma can attack several areas of the body, but two thirds of all mesothelioma diagnoses are pleural. Of the three thousand new cases of mesothelioma cancer diagnosed in the United States every year, two thousand of them are pleural mesothelioma, or mesothelioma lung cancer.
How Asbestos Causes Pleural Mesothelioma
The mesothelium is a membrane that lines several of the bodys internal cavities. Among them are the abdominal cavity (the peritoneum) and the pleural cavity, which is where the lungs are located. The pleura is a term for the dual layered mesothelium membrane that surrounds the lungs; the outer layer (the parietal layer) attaches to the chest wall, while the inner layer (the visceral layer) wraps around the lungs. The narrow space between the two is called the pleural area.
Asbestos finds its way to the pleural membrane through asbestos fibers which are inhaled by someone exposed to dust caused by the disturbance of asbestos. The fibers work their way through the lung to the pleural membrane and usually remain there as the body is unable to reject them.
These fibers will cause changes to the mesothelial cells that form the pleural membrane over a long period of time.� Eventually the cells will begin uncontrolled growth - thickening the pleural walls, causing a buildup of fluid, and eventually leading to the development of mesothelioma cancer in the form of tumors. Often this process can take twenty years or more, which is why mesothelioma is usually diagnosed long after the exposure to asbestos has occurred.
Symptoms of Pleural Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma symptoms can be misleading, as they resemble symptoms associated with more common afflictions such as asthma, allergies, cardiovascular problems, pneumonia and even tuberculosis. Symptoms include:
- A persistent cough that is harsh and dry
- Shortness of breath
- Painful inhalation
- Chest pain
- Weight loss
- Fever or night sweats
- Persistent fatique
The cause of many of these symptoms is the accumulation of fluid in the pleural area. That puts pressure on the lungs and chest wall while impacting breathing as well.
Pleural Mesothelioma Diagnosis
Diagnosis procedures for chest-related symptoms often begin with a chest X-ray. These images may show the thickening of the pleural wall. A CT or MRI scan may confirm the presence of fluid in the pleural area, which can be taken as a primary indicator of mesothelioma.
A chest drain or pleural tap? may be employed to extract fluid from the pleural area, which can then be tested for cancerous cells. A biopsy will also allow testing for cancerous cells. The biopsy sample is extracted through a small incision in the chest wall that allows the doctor to place a surgical tool between two ribs and extract a tissue sample.
Treatment for Pleural Mesothelioma
Unfortunately, pleural mesothelioma is usually diagnosed only after it has been active in the body for a long period. Symptoms do not begin to develop until after the cancerous stage is well underway. Treatment often involves surgery for the removal of any tumors that have developed, followed by a combination of chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
There has been a good deal of research on mesothelioma treatment, with the specific goal of extending the life expectancy for victims of the disease. While the disease can be slowed, it cannot be stopped. However several years ago the average life expectancy following a mesothelioma diagnosis was a year to eighteen months.
Today, the use of new medications in combination with chemotherapy and radiation can extend that average life expectancy into a period of years. There is an extended discussion of these options and developments in the treatment section of this website.
The liability of asbestos manufacturers and users has been well established legally throughout the world. In this country, it is a routine practice for mesothelioma patients to engage a mesothelioma attorney who specializes in getting compensation for victims of this disease. Billions of dollars have been set aside by asbestos corporations for this purpose.
For a quick and expert legal analysis of your mesothelioma lawsuit options, contact us today.