Things about Mesothelioma You Probably Did Not Know | Mesothelioma is terminal cancer that can occur by exposure to asbestos. Experts estimate about 3,000 people die from the disease every year.
Unlike most cancers, mesothelioma is not easy to diagnose. Industrial workers and people living in older homes have a high chance of getting it. However, mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer, accounting for only 0.3% of cancer cases in the US.
So if you know someone with mesothelioma, we can guide you through it. Education is the first key to break the barrier between what you know and what you don’t know. When it comes to mesothelioma, there is immense fear surrounding cancer. However, with the correct information, you can ensure you’re looking after yourself better. Here are some facts about mesothelioma you may want to know:
The Types of Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma is not of one type. There are four different regions in your body where you may get mesothelioma. They are as follows:
- Pleural Mesothelioma. The mesothelioma of the lungs. If there is too much fiber build-up in the lung, there’s a chance of developing a tumor there. Depending on how much cancer spreads, a doctor will decide the treatment route.
- Peritoneal Mesothelioma. Abdominal cancer. People who have peritoneal mesothelioma have a better chance of surviving than the rest. However, if it’s in a manageable stage, doctors can help take care of it through surgery or chemo. It would help if you tried going online to learn more about how aggressive abdominal cancer can get.
- Pericardium Mesothelioma. Cancer of the heart is rare. If it happens, chances of pulling back from it are rare. The heart is a highly vital organ. It is not much you can do to prevent cancer apart from trying to kill cancer cells. Only doctors can deduce what to do in case a patient comes down with heart cancer.
- Testicular Mesothelioma. Cancer in the testes is extremely painful. The groin is a susceptible zone, and any mass growing there will hurt. Getting a mass on the scrotum also interferes with life. Patients need to get that checked right away as their basic lifestyle gets impacted. It is also necessary to contain it before it spreads throughout the body.
Who Gets Impacted By Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is not a common type of cancer. Not everyone gets it. It is also cancer-limited to a particular kind of people. Unless you get exposed to mesothelioma-inducing conditions, you’re safe. It is primarily people belonging to the blue-collar sector and military background who are the most susceptible. Here are some other factors that contribute to mesothelioma:
- Occupation. People working in construction, firefighting, and even manufacturing have a greater chance of getting cancer. Industrial workers who work with asbestos almost daily also have a high chance of getting it.
- Gender. Most susceptible cases of mesothelioma happen to be men. Most industrial workers are men, and so their chances of asbestos exposure are high. Women seem to survive mesothelioma better. While researchers don’t have a definite answer, they believe the level of hormones in women takes care of them. Along with gender, men older than 60 have a much higher chance of contracting mesothelioma.
- Ethnicity. White people have the highest statistics when it comes to mesothelioma. Researchers suggest that due to the profession that white people do, they are most susceptible. Most industrial workers are almost white. Hispanics are the following line, however still tremendously less in number than white people.
How Is Mesothelioma Treated?
Cancer itself is so rare that most practitioners think of it as a last resort. If you go to a doctor complaining about coughing and weakness, they won’t diagnose mesothelioma right away. However, if they feel your symptoms are more than a common cough, a heart attack, or another form of cancer, they will subject you to tests. Here are some methods to figure out if you have mesothelioma:
- Imaging Scans. Doctors will start with a primary X-ray to deduce any abnormalities. If they see a tumor, they will recommend a more detailed PET scan, CT or MRI.
- Biopsies. In case there are cancer cells visible, you get scheduled for a biopsy. Doctors take a sample of tissue and study it under a microscope to confirm a diagnosis.
- Blood Tests. Blood tests do nothing to inform the doctor of mesothelioma. However, it tells the doctor of the presence of asbestos fibers in the blood.
- Staging. The last part of a doctor’s work is to figure out the growth of the tumor. Doctors like using fruits to describe the size. If you have a grape-sized tumor, it means it’s a small tumor quickly taken care of and stage one. However, if cancer progresses and becomes a grapefruit, stage 4—the bigger the fruit, the more lethal cancer.
What Treatment Options Are Available For Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma gets treated with conventional therapies such as surgery, chemo, and radiation. However, there are emerging treatment options such as immunotherapy and even tumor treating fields. Here is how doctors administer care:
- Surgery. These procedures get used for diagnosing diseases and removing tumors while easing pain. The most common methods are extrapleural pneumonectomy or pleurectomy for the most excellent chance of survival. The surgery is quite invasive, with large scars to remove cancer cells by cutting portions of the lungs.
- Chemotherapy. About 70% of the population with cancer goes through chemotherapy. The therapy uses medicine given intravenously to shrink tumors. The treatment can go on for three to four hours a day. The side effects are unpleasant with a loss of hair, vomiting, and even failure in appetite.
- Radiation Therapy. Radiation can get administered at any cancer stage. Doctors use it to slow down cancer growth. You may get it after surgery or before, depending on how far cancer spreads.
- Immunotherapy. These drugs control cancer growth and help patients with mesothelioma to live longer. Like radiation, doctors may administer the therapy at any stage. Every case is different. So some patients may show a positive reaction to the treatment while others may not.
- Tumor Treating Fields (TTF). TTF is still new to the field but has FDA approval. TTF uses a combination of treatments to cause an impact on the patient. These treatments can limit cancer growth and even improve the survival rate.
- Clinical Trials. Researchers are constantly studying the latest research in the market. Cancer, including mesothelioma, has much of their attention. Patients get invited to participate in clinical trials. These trials will determine the course of future cancer medicines. If the patient shows favorable results, the drug will enter secondary stages of improvement.
When mesothelioma strikes, it is almost lethal to deal with. It has a particular set of prerequisites. Unlike other cases of cancer, it only impacts a very minimal amount of the population. Contributing factors include occupation, gender, and ethnicity. In addition, mesothelioma presents itself in four different locations around the body. It is not always the first diagnosis when a patient feels symptoms that may correlate to mesothelioma. After conducting successive tests to determine the cause of symptoms and confirming mesothelioma, a patient goes into treatment. Treatment boils down to the stage and site of cancer. Only a doctor can deduce what the best possible treatment route for the patient is.