Pleural mesothelioma affects the chest. It is caused by inhaling asbestos fibers, which lodge themselves in the lungs. It begins in the protective membrane surrounding these organs, called the pleural. Over time, plaque, also called "pleural calcification," forms. Then, cancerous cells develop and spread to other organs. Common symptoms include shortness of breath and chest pain.
Pleural Mesothelioma Diagnosis
One of the biggest challenges with pleural mesothelioma is making an early diagnosis. Because the symptoms are initially mild and can be attributed to a sea of other health problems, the cancer can go undetected for a long time. This problem is made worse by the fact that people who have been exposed to asbestos often don't exhibit symptoms or develop cancer for decades. Consequently, even patients who undergo regular checkups may not think they have cancer. For that reason, you must tell your doctor if you have been exposed to asbestos.
Pleural Mesothelioma Treatments
There is no cure for mesothelioma, but treatments are available that can help you live a healthier life. The primary treatments are chemotherapy and radiation, which are often used together. In 2004, the FDA approved the first chemotherapy drug considered effective for pleural mesothelioma, called Pemetrexed.
In rare cases, surgery is an option for pleural mesothelioma patients. It is only feasible, however, if the cancer is caught early. The pleural membrane is very delicate, and if the cancer has progressed too far, safe removal is not possible. However, if pleural mesothelioma is diagnosed in the early stages, a surgeon may be able to slow the cancer's growth by removing part of the affected lung. In more serious cases, the surgeon might remove the entire lung, the diaphragm and the pleural itself.
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The importance of early mesothelioma diagnosis and treatment cannot be emphasized enough. If you or a loved one were exposed to asbestos and have developed pleural mesothelioma, fill out our form below. We will send you additional information regarding mesothelioma, its symptoms and treatments.