What is pleural mesothelioma?
Pleural Mesothelioma is cancer that starts in the cells of the membrane (pleura) that surrounds and protects your lungs. It can get worse over time, spreading into nearby organs or into other parts of your body. You may not know you have it because there are few symptoms at first. The only way to find out for sure if you have this disease is with a biopsy. This blog post will explore some common questions about this type of cancer and give an overview of what we know so far about treatments and outcomes for people diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma.
Pleural mesothelioma is rare cancer that starts in the lining of the lung. It is typically caused by inhaling asbestos fibers and is difficult to diagnose. The symptoms are not specific and often mimic other diseases, so it can go undetected for years before being diagnosed as pleural mesothelioma. There is no cure for this disease but there are treatments available to help people live longer and more comfortably with their diagnosis.
What is Malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM)?
Malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) is a form of cancer that can be caused by exposure to asbestos. Tumors develop in the lining of your lungs and chest cavity called the pleura. It’s commonly referred to as one out of the most common forms, making up 60% – 70%. Most patients aren’t diagnosed until they’re at their final stage because there are long latency periods coupled with non-specific symptoms for this type.
In 15-60 years since initial exposure has occurred people may start showing signs. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma, you can find financial help.
Symptoms of Pleural Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma is also similar to lung cancer. They are, however, two distinct illnesses that must be handled differently. To get the best result, it’s critical to get the right diagnosis.
Mesothelioma has inconspicuous symptoms. The majority of them are so widespread that they’re mistaken for more common diseases such as bronchitis, pneumonia, and COPD.
Pleural mesothelioma symptoms include:
Below are some pleural mesothelioma signs. Chest or lower back pain is one of them. Coughing is another one. Shortness of breath, hoarseness, swallowing difficulties, fluid accumulation (pleural effusion), fatigue, weight loss, and fever are other major symptoms of Pleural mesothelioma.
Pleural Mesothelioma Diagnosis
The vague symptoms of mesothelioma are only one reason why identifying the disease is difficult. The fact is that few physicians are familiar with asbestos cancer.
Mesothelioma is rare cancer that affects the tissue surrounding the lungs. According to the research, only 3,000 new cases are diagnosed in the United States each year. Because it is so uncommon, mesothelioma is unlikely to be the first diagnosis considered by a doctor.
Pleural mesothelioma can be difficult to diagnose, and there are several steps involved in the process.
This is where the doctor will start his examination of the possible symptoms of mesothelioma.
X-rays, CT scans, MRIs, and PET scans can all be used to determine the location and size of mesothelioma tumors.
The removal of tissue or fluid from the body is referred to as a biopsy. It’s the only way to establish whether you have mesothelioma with a formal diagnosis.
There are several different types of biopsy procedures:
(A) Needle Biopsy
Fluid is collected from around mesothelioma tumors with a needle biopsy. Doctors take a fluid sample from the pleural space using a hollow needle to look for cancerous cells. Thoracentesis is the term used to describe this procedure.
During a thoracentesis, most patients are awake. To numb the area where the needle will be inserted, doctors may use an ultrasound or other imaging modality to assist them in finding the correct site.
Thoracentesis is a non-invasive procedure with the fewest risks to the patient. It isn’t, however, the most reliable diagnostic method because there’s a chance that the fluid sample was not obtained from an area where cancer cells were present.
(B) Endoscopic Biopsy
Endoscopic biopsies are regarded as minimally invasive treatments. They, like a needle biopsy, require more time to recuperate than standard surgery.
A fiber-optic viewing tube with a video camera attached is used to peer inside the body via an endoscope. The following are some of the various endoscopic procedures for mesothelioma that may be utilized to obtain tissue samples:
A thoracoscopy, often known as video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS), is a diagnostic procedure that includes viewing the inside of your chest using an endoscope. Many renowned mesothelioma specialists recommend this technique for diagnosing mesothelioma.
The endoscope is inserted via a tiny chest incision. Tissue samples may be removed from the pleural tissue surrounding the lungs.
A chest X-ray is used to determine the size, shape, position, and motion of any masses or obstructions within the lungs. Lymph nodes are located in this area. Doctors can also take samples from the lymph nodes to see if the disease has spread there.
A thoracotomy is a surgical procedure for detecting pleural mesothelioma. The chest of a patient will be opened with an incision. Tissues from the pleural cavity may then be removed by the surgeon.
A thoracotomy is not only used to remove nodules from the lungs. A thoracotomy is also the technique that doctors use to cure and palliate pleural mesothelioma patients.
The most invasive diagnostic test for mesothelioma is a surgical biopsy. It also allows physicians to obtain numerous tissue samples from many locations, giving them the best chance of locating mesothelioma cells.
Stages of Pleural Mesothelioma
The cancer staging system is essential since it informs doctors about the amount of malignancy that has spread throughout the body. Patients with mesothelioma in late stages have fewer treatment choices than those suffering from other types of cancer.
The first step in developing a treatment plan after being diagnosed with mesothelioma is to determine the stage of the asbestos cancer. The next step is to determine the stage of asbestos cancer.
What is the TNM system approach for the staging of Mesothelioma?
Pleural mesothelioma is staged according to the TNM system. The following are three major aspects of this approach:
- T: The size of the main tumor.
- N: N stands for nearby. This stage tells if the cancer is found in nearby lymph nodes.
- M: M stands for metastasis that means cancer has metastasized (spread) to distant structures in the body.
- Cancer tumors may affect the pleura of the lung, diaphragm or mediastinum
- Mesothelioma is in the pleural lining of chest
- Only on one side of the chest
- No cancer has spread in the lymph nodes
- May not be near distant parts of the body
- Surgery is a good option for this
- Mesothelioma tumors are in the pleural lining of the chest wall, diaphragm, and mediastinum
- Only on one side of the body
- Tumors may also have grown into the first layer of the chest wall
- Tumors may be in the fatty tissue of the mediastinum
- Cancerous tumors may have spread in the pericardium lining the heart
- No lymph nodes are involved
- Has not spread to distant parts of the body
- Surgery is possible
- Mesothelioma is in the pleura on one side of the chest wall
- Tumors may have grown deeper inside the lung and diaphragm
- Cancer has spread to lymph nodes on the same side as the main tumor
- No metastasis to distant areas
- Surgery is possible
- Mesothelioma has spread to nearby structures of the body
- Cancer in the lining of the chest wall.
- Maybe in the lungs, diaphragm, and mediastinum on the same side
- May spread to lymph nodes
- Surgery is still possible
- Tumors in one of the following areas at least:
- The first layer of the chest wall,
- Fatty tissue in the mediastinum,
- A single place deeper in the chest wall
- Single place deeper in the pericardium.
- Tumor in the pleura of the chest wall.
- Tumor in the lung, diaphragm and mediastinum on one side
- Must also be in the deeper layers of the chest wall, peritoneum
- Tumor in the organs of the mediastinum such as esophagus, trachea.
- May be in thymus, blood vessels, spine, pleura on other side of chest
- May be in the heart itself
- May or may not be in nearby lymph nodes
- No distant metastasis
- Surgery is generally ruled out as treatment option
- In stage 4, tumors spread to the brain, spine, and other distant parts of the body.
- Distant lymph node involvement on the other side of the body
- It May also be in the lungs and peritoneum
- Surgery is not possible in this stage
- Ask for a second opinion before making any decision related to your disease.
Pleural Mesothelioma Treatment
Patients with pleural mesothelioma should be treated using a multimodal approach that includes surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.
As a result of his or her research, a doctor may propose surgery as part of a mesothelioma treatment plan. There are numerous distinct types of operations, including:
Extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP)
A pleuro pneumonectomy is a major procedure. To be a good candidate for an extrapleural pneumonectomy, a patient must have adequate physical fitness. The majority of patients are diagnosed with epithelioid pleural mesothelioma, the most treatable form of the disease.
During an Extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP), a thoracic surgeon removes:
- The lung on the side of the body where the cancer is located
- Pleura of the chest wall
- The diaphragm on the same side
- Possibly the heart sac and
- Nearby lymph nodes
- The diaphragm and pericardium are replaced with artificial components after surgery.
EPPs are generally avoided by physicians. According to the American Cancer Society, approximately one-third of extrapleural pneumonectomy patients can suffer major problems.
Another invasive surgical treatment for pleural mesothelioma is a pleurectomy/decortication. It isn’t as devastating as an EPP, however.
During a Pleurectomy/Decortication procedure, a surgeon removes:
- Pleura lining the chest wall on the same side of the cancer
- Pleura of the lung, mediastinum, and diaphragm on the same side
The major distinction between EPP and P/D is that the lungs and diaphragm are not excised.
However, an extended P/D (also known as a radical P/D) does remove the diaphragm on the side where the tumor is found. The pericardium may or may not be removed.
When compared to an extrapleural pneumonectomy, a pleurectomy/decortication has several advantages. It is a less invasive lung-sparing intervention. Additionally, research indicates that patients who undergo a P/D rather than an EPP have fewer problems.
Neither does surgery. A 2017 study published in the Annals of Translational Medicine found that “the prognosis following malignant pleural mesothelioma surgery is still extremely poor, with two-year survival rates of less than 40 percent.”
Chemotherapy is usually given in three to four-week cycles. The medicines can induce harsh symptoms, therefore doctors administer them gradually throughout the course of treatment so that the body may recover between cycles.
chemotherapy is a treatment that uses anti-cancer medications to combat mesothelioma. To reduce or stop the growth of cancer cells, medicines might be administered before surgery. Chemotherapy may also be used after surgery to minimize the risk of tumors recurring.
Pleural mesothelioma can be treated with two types of chemotherapy: cisplatin and carboplatin.
- Intrapleural Chemotherapy: The drugs are inserted into the pleural cavity, where the cancer is situated. Before insertion, some medicines might be heated. Hyperthermic chemotherapy is a type of therapeutic hyperthermia.
- Systemic Chemotherapy: Drugs are injected directly into the circulation and carried to where the malignancy is located.
The most common chemotherapy drugs for mesothelioma include:
- Gemcitabine (Gemzar)
- Pemetrexed (Alimta)
Patients may receive one drug or a combination of drugs to aid in the treatment process. Pleural mesothelioma is the most common form of cancer, which explains why it is also the most thoroughly studied. Many new chemotherapy medicines that are currently in clinical trials are being investigated.
Radiation therapy on its own is not considered a good treatment for mesothelioma. This is because it’s tough to focus the radiation beams on cancer cells without also damaging normal tissues.
External beam radiation therapy (EBRT) and intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) are being used to treat mesothelioma in some cases, although newer technologies such as stereotactic radiotherapy (STR) and intensity-modulated proton therapy offer promise without the same level of side effects.
Ionizing radiation is used to destroy cancer cells with radiation therapy. It’s usually given after surgery to kill any remaining cells that couldn’t be seen or removed during the operation. Palliative radiation treatment can help with unpleasant pleural mesothelioma symptoms, such as severe chest pain.
Other Pleural Mesothelioma Treatment Options
In addition to the usual multimodal approach, other strategies are being investigated to treat pleural mesothelioma. The following are a few of these methods:
Cancer immunotherapy is a type of medicine that activates the body’s immune system to combat the disease.
Targeted Drug Therapy
Chemotherapy medications are used to target the proteins in cancer cells that lead to their mutation and multiplication. Bevacizumab, for example, is a medication that is being utilized to block the protein that permits cells to grow new blood vessels. Tumors require a greater amount of blood supply in order to develop. The tumor’s development will
The blood is injected with photosensitizing medicines that are absorbed by the body. A specific light is shone on the patient to cause the medications to generate oxygen, which destroys cancer cells around it.
Researchers are studying whether human-made viruses may be used to cure cancer. The aim is to determine whether a virus might prevent tumor development, repair cells, or modify DNA in cells in order to make them more responsive to chemotherapy.
Alternative and complementary treatments are used by some mesothelioma patients to treat the symptoms of the disease. Acupuncture, yoga, and natural medicines are examples of such therapies. Always contact a medical professional before starting any type of alternative therapy. Some supplements, for example, may not tolerate chemotherapy medications well.
Asbestos and Pleural Mesothelioma
- According to estimates, 1.3 million workers in the United States are still exposed to asbestos on the job every day.
- In the United States, the government has placed limits on asbestos usage in a variety of sectors and commercial goods. But there is no single nationwide ban on asbestos.
- The majority of people who develop mesothelioma were exposed to asbestos while at work. The material was widely used in industrial, military, construction, and manufacturing sectors for decades.
- Workers are not the only ones who get mesothelioma. Mesothelioma has also been diagnosed in family members as a result of secondhand exposure to asbestos fibers carried home on an employee’s clothing, shoes, or skin.
- Mesothelioma is caused by exposure to asbestos.
- Asbestos is a kind of fiber that is sharp and microscopic in size. Pleural mesothelioma can be caused by inhaling these fibers.
- There are several ways in which asbestos is released into the environment. It’s unavoidable, even with the most cautious handling.
- When materials like asbestos are handled, damaged, or disturbed, fibers of this substance are dispersed into the air.
- Anyone in the area who is breathing or eating food contaminated with asbestos may inadvertently breathe or ingest it.
- A person’s risk of developing cancer from airborne asbestos exposure depends on many factors, including his or her level of exposure to the fibers and duration of contact.
- Asbestos fibers can move into the pleura surrounding the lungs and chest when breathed in.
- Repeated irritation of these tissues can cause healthy cells to become cancerous over time.
“Pleural mesothelioma is rare cancer that affects the lining of the lungs. Asbestos, which was once used in insulation and fireproofing for homes and buildings, has been linked to pleural mesothelioma.”
This disease is caused by the inhalation of asbestos fibers. The body creates an inflammatory response, but because of the size and shape of asbestos fibers, it causes scarring in the pleura (the lining that covers your lungs). This can then lead to cancer. A pleural mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer, but one that requires attention if you think you may be at risk for this illness. Knowing more about pleural mesothelioma can help you identify symptoms early on so treatment has the greatest chance for success!