Definition of Mesothelioma
A comprehensive definition of mesothelioma involves knowing how it is caused and what damage it perpetrates on the mesothelial tissues lining the lungs. The onset of mesothelioma occurs when someone is repeatedly exposed to asbestos, a highly fibrous, durable and chemically resistant form of magnesium silicate once used in building materials, fireproofing, chemical filters, electrical insulation, and many other items associated with manufacturing. Although there are three types of mesothelioma with which an individual can become afflicted, the most frequently seen kind is called pleural mesothelioma, which affects the pleura, or tissues covering the lungs.
As an aggressive and often fatal form of cancer, mesothelioma is treatable but as yet does not have a cure. Treatment programs available are radiation therapy, chemotherapy or surgery, with some patients requiring more than one type of treatment. While these therapies do not cure asbestos-related lung cancer, they do alleviate a chronic cough and breathing difficulties associated with mesothelioma. Surgery is often needed when scarring occurs from asbestos fibers accumulating in the lungs and tumors emerge from these areas. Occasionally, an individual swallows asbestos fibers for many years which causes peritoneal mesothelioma due to fibers entering the stomach cavity.
Even more unfortunate with this type of cancer is the fact that mesothelioma is generally not diagnosed until the cancer is in an advanced stage because symptoms may not manifest themselves for up to 30 or 40 years later. In addition, mesothelioma symptoms resemble various respiratory ailments or heart conditions which may lead to a misdiagnosis from a physician who treats cancer with ineffective medications meant for colds, flu or heart problems. Other symptoms of advanced pleural mesothelioma include difficulty swallowing, accumulation of fluid in the lungs, and neck or facial swelling caused by pressure on the superior vena cava vein, which transports blood from the heart to the upper body.