Pleural Mesothelioma Causes, Symptoms, Treatments and Legal Help
Definition: Pleural mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that affects the lining of the lungs, called the pleura.
Causes: Pleural mesothelioma, like all mesotheliomas, is caused by asbestos fibers inhalation.
Frequency: Pleural mesothelioma is the most common type of mesothelioma and it accounts for approximately 75% of all cases. Approximately 2500 - 3000 people are yearly diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma in the United States.
Symptoms: In its beginning stage, pleural mesothelioma symptoms can be similar and confused with pneumonia, flu, laryngitis, COPD or other common respiratory conditions.
Diagnosis: Pleural mesothelioma diagnosis is confirmed by a lung/pleural needle biopsy that takes either a tissue sample or fluid sample for analysis.
Stages: Pleural mesothelioma is the only cancer of this type with an officially recognized staging system.
Treatments: Pleural mesothelioma has several treatment options that can prolong a patient's lifespan by months or even years.
Prognosis: Prognosis and life expectancy are modified by factors such as age, size of the tumor, and stage of the disease.
Legal Options: In many cases, Flint Law Firm can get compensation quickly (few short months) that can help with medical bills, copays, travel costs for treatment, and other unanticipated expenses.
Pleural Mesothelioma Causes
Pleural mesothelioma is caused by inhalation and ingestion of asbestos. Inhaled, asbestos fibers get stuck in the lungs and then slowly travel to the pleura which is just outside the lungs.
Asbestos fibers are extremely small, just light enough to travel into the lungs with a breath, and heavy enough to remain inside once inhaled.
These fibers are like tiny needles which get stuck in the tissue will eventually travel through your body over decades because of gravity and the physical motion of your daily activities.
The danger of cancer comes from the cells that are damaged by Asbestos and then continue to make copies of themselves.
A person can be exposed to asbestos and not show signs of pleural mesothelioma cancer for 15 to 50 years. In the earliest stages, symptoms can be in the form of weight loss or fever and difficulty breathing from fluid accumulation around the lungs.
Lower Back Pain
Shortness of Breath (dyspnea)
Unexplained Weight Loss
Fluid Buildup (Pleural Effusion)
Chest Pain (Pleurisy)
Dry or Painful Cough
Fever or Sweating
Tissue Lumps in the Chest
Coughing up Blood (Hemoptysis)
Diagnosing Pleural Mesothelioma
The most common way to diagnose pleural mesothelioma is through a series of tests to rule out other diseases.
In its beginning stages pleural mesothelioma is often only detected by an incidental finding, basically a scan that finds an opacity (dense spot of tissue) in the lining around the lungs.
At the initial diagnostic stage for pleural mesothelioma imaging scans such as X-ray, MRI, PET or CT are perform in order to identify potential tumors.
If cancer is found, then a series of blood tests are taken to detect elevated levels of specific substances in the blood. If those tests are positive, a biopsy will be done to further confirm the results of the blood tests.
The physicians may choose to watch the spot and follow up in 3-6 months, or in some cases, they may ask for a biopsy.
Since the pleural lining surrounds a vital organ, your doctor will may ask for a biopsy if the cancer tumor raises concerns of malignant mesothelioma.
If your specialist tells you that they would like to perform a biopsy of the lungs, then you should give us a call at (855) 883-6447 as soon as that procedure is scheduled.
Other Possible Diagnoses Related to Pleural Mesothelioma
If you have one of these diagnoses below, it does not necessarily mean that you have pleural mesothelioma. Make sure that your doctor is aware of any history of asbestos exposure in your family.
Pleural Plaques are chalky substances that form on the lungs due to calcification.
Diffuse Pleural Thickening (DPT)
Diffuse Pleural Thickening (DPT) is a gray, fibrous, scar tissue that fills in pleural spaces and can appear as asbestosis, a scarring of the lungs or as pulmonary fibrosis.
Pleural Mesothelioma Stages
Pleural mesothelioma is the only cancer of this type with an officially recognized staging system.
Pleural mesothelioma falls under four stages, each stage being more severe than the last. Only early-stage patients can benefit from surgery and live longer as a result. Late-stage patients can only benefit from treatment that manages symptoms and improves quality of life.
Stage 1 mesothelioma is characterized by tumors growing within a single area. People at this stage of cancer do not usually experience symptoms. Life expectancy for stage 1 mesothelioma patients is significantly better than later stages.
Stage 2 mesothelioma symptoms are often vague and mild, and both doctors and patients can easily mistake them for signs of other diseases. In this stage, cancer starts spreading to nearby lymph nodes.
In stage 3, cancer starts spreading to several tissues and organs in the same part of the body where it initially developed. Patients in this stage start experiencing pain and discomfort in different body parts depending on where cancer has spread.
By stage 4, cancer has spread to other parts of the body. In this stage, patients experience the most severe symptoms, such as extreme difficulty to breathe and swallow, as well as severe pain throughout the body.
Pleural Mesothelioma Treatments
Pleural mesothelioma has no known cure, but several treatment options are available for patients that have been diagnosed with the disease. The purpose of these treatments is to alleviate symptoms and make the illness more bearable. If successful, a combination of these types of treatment options describe below can prolong a patient's lifespan by months or even years.
Surgery treatment plans are meant to remove as much cancerous tissue as possible. There are three types of surgery available for pleural mesothelioma patients, depending on how far the disease has progressed:
Pleurectomy and Decortication
Pleurectomy and Decortication (P/D) surgery spares the affected lung and only removes the cancerous tissue that surrounds the lungs. These tissues are the pleural lining, chest wall lining, and diaphragm.
Pleural pneumonectomy consists of the surgical removal of an affected lung. This surgery is only available for Mesothelioma patients in early stages whose cancer doesn't affect the surrounding tissues.
Even though chemotherapy doesn't cure mesothelioma on its own, it can help patients by improving quality of life, alleviating symptoms and prolonging survival.
Chemotherapy is used to slow the growth of cancerous tumors and to support surgical treatment. By doing so, it can boost the median survival rates of mesothelioma victims by 16 months.
Although it has many side-effects, doctors may argue that the benefits of chemotherapy in helping mesothelioma patients can outweigh the disadvantages.
03. Radiation Therapy
While surgery and chemotherapy are the main options used to prolong survival, radiation therapy is used to control symptoms. Furthermore, radiation therapy can have the advantage of preventing local recurrence, as well as reducing chest pain.
Mesothelioma radiation therapy targets cancer cells and can reduce chest pain by shrinking mesothelioma tumors that apply pressure on the chest wall. In conjunction with surgery, radiation therapy reduces the risk of local recurrence.
While radiation doesn't have the same side-effects of chemotherapy, it can still be dangerous in some regards and must be used carefully.
04. Experimental Treatments
Several experimental treatment plans can be available for patients:
Immunotherapy treatments have been designed to jumpstart or boost the body's immune system and fight cancer.
Gene Therapy can aid in the repair of genetic problems which are found to be the source of cancerous cells.
Photodynamic Therapy is a treatment which uses a light source and a photosensitizing agent to target cancer cells.
Pleural Mesothelioma Prognosis
Prognosis for patients affected by pleural mesothelioma is rather poor. Research shows that only 40% of pleural mesothelioma patients survive for one year after being diagnosed. Prognosis and life expectancy are modified by factors such as age, size of the tumor, and stage of the disease.
Even though statistics are not encouraging, every case is different, and prognoses may vary. Furthermore, treatment plans for mesothelioma have greatly improved over the past decade. These medical advancements can help patients survive for longer and live better with symptoms.
Diagnosed with Pleural Mesothelioma? Focus On Your Health!
In our experience, most of the pleural mesothelioma victims prefer to "get the legal stuff out of the way early" so that we can be working to protect all legal rights while you and your family are focusing on your health.
Mesothelioma treatment requires an immense financial effort. Our Experienced Mesothelioma Lawyers can get you the highest monetary compensation quickly (few short months) that can help with medical bills, copays, travel costs for treatment, and other unanticipated expenses.
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