Pleural mesothelioma is a type of cancer that develops and affects the lining of the lung known as pleura. It is one of the most common types of cancer that is rampant in our society today. Research has it that about two thousand, four hundred individuals are diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma yearly in America.
This type of cancer has its staging system, and asbestos fibers are the leading cause of pleural mesothelioma though other risk factors may contribute to your exposure.
Pleural mesothelioma may take up to a decade or 5 decades before the symptoms become visible, some of the pleural mesothelioma general symptoms are chest pain, difficulty in breathing, and dry cough, and the overall life expectancy of pleural mesothelioma with treatment is between 12 months to two years.
pleural mesothelioma does not have a better prognosis than peritoneal mesothelioma, the second most common type.
Note that, there is no permanent cure for any type of mesothelioma including pleural mesothelioma, even though it is not curable, there are a lot of treatment options that can help in shrinking the cancerous cell, remove tumors and lessen the discomfort of the symptoms.
So in this article, we are going to provide all the information we know about pleural mesothelioma.
What causes pleural mesothelioma?
The only confirmed cause of pleural mesothelioma is asbestos fibers, which lead to Cancer when exposed to asbestos-contaminated products. exposure starts when you inhale or swallow asbestos fibers. you may not know when this will happen because the asbestos fibers are invisible or airborne.
After you inhale the fiber it will get stocked in the lining of the lungs, once it gets stuck it will start affecting the tissues around the lungs and chest wall which will lead to pleural mesothelioma for many years.
Asbestos is a mineral substance used to produce building material in the early 30s. the production and importation of this life-threatening mineral substance have been banned in many countries.
Occupations at high risk of asbestos exposure are
- Construction workers
- Factory worker
- Insulation manufacturers
- Building renovators and many more.
Additionally, if you are living with anyone with this job listing, you may likely get asbestos exposure, how possible is this, it is very much possible because those workers may mistakenly carry home the fibers that lay on their cloth to a second location. Since this fiber is invisible, you inhale it, which is known as secondary or secondhand exposure.
Individuals living close to factories where asbestos is produced may be at a higher risk of this exposure.
According to research, men have the highest risk of asbestos exposure because there is a higher number of men working in factories. men around 50 to 65 years of age are diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma though no type of mesothelioma cancer is gender specific.
Pleural mesothelioma can take a long time to develop, and symptoms may be overlooked or unnoticed, leading to late diagnosis.
Pleural mesothelioma symptoms
pleural mesothelioma symptoms are sometimes mistaken for other cancer-related symptoms, often leading to misdiagnosis. this type of mesothelioma symptom is mistaken as flu or pneumonia.
One of the first symptoms a patient with pleural mesothelioma may experience is plural effusion also known as fluid buildup in the lungs, this particular symptom can lead to severe discomfort.
pleural mesothelioma can get very bad especially when the disease starts spreading to the other internal organs
Pleural mesothelioma symptoms are :
- Difficulty in breathing
- Dry cough
- Weight loss
- Chest pain
- Dysphagia etc
Please if you are experiencing any of these listed symptoms, do well by reaching out to a mesothelioma doctor now even if you can’t recall any asbestos exposure history. Early diagnosis can contribute greatly to your treatment journey.
Pleural mesothelioma diagnosis
Pleural mesothelioma diagnosis often starts when the patient complains of some of those listed symptoms.
Once this complaint is laid, a mesothelioma doctor will investigate if the patient has mesothelioma or another cancer-related disease. if a patient recalls any asbestos exposure, the mesothelioma doctor will order more tests that can prove the presence of cancer in the body.
Some of the tests that may detect a sign of cancer in the body include an Imaging test, CTs, X-rays, magnetic resonance imaging [MRL]
All these listed tests above can not confirm a patient has pleural mesothelioma, rather they will help identify the cancerous cell type or location of the tumor.
The only procedure that can confirm if you have pleural mesothelioma is a Biopsy procedure.
An accurate diagnosis can help a pleural mesothelioma patient receive treatment on time and impact the patient’s prognosis. That is why it is important to work with the best medical team to avoid misdiagnosis.
Pleural mesothelioma cell types
Once the biopsy procedure has been carried out, it will bring out vital information that will help the doctors to move forward. The biopsy procedure will identify the type of cell, this cell type may impact your treatment options.
A patient diagnosed with mesothelioma cancer can have any of these cell types Epithelioid, Sarcomatoid, and Biphasic.
Epithelioid cell: This type of cell is the most favorable mesothelioma cell type that is easier to treat, a mesothelioma patient with Epithelioid cell may have a better prognosis than other types. it accounts for 60 to 80 percent of all mesothelioma cases.
Sarcomatoid cell: This cell type is the second most common form of malignant mesothelioma, it accounts for 10 percent of all mesothelioma cases. The sarcomatoid cell grows and spreads to the vital organs faster than the Epithelioid cell. this type of mesothelioma cell is very challenging to treat.
Biphasic cell: This cell is the 3rd mesothelioma cell type, it is a common type of mesothelioma cell that contains both Epithelioid and sarcomatoid cells. Biphasic cell type accounts for 10 to 15 percent of all mesothelioma cases.
The type of pleural mesothelioma cell type present found in your body will determine your treatment options and prognosis.
What are the stages of pleural mesothelioma?
Out Of the four types of mesothelioma cancer, pleural is the only type with a staging system.
TNM which is also known as Tomor Node Metastasis is used by mesothelioma doctors to identify pleural mesothelioma stages. Pleural mesothelioma is classified into four stages, These four stages reveal the growth, amount, or spread of cancer in your body.
With this staging system, your doctor will be able to recommend the best treatment for your cancer stage and how you can manage the symptoms.
Pleural mesothelioma Stage 1: Stage- 1 which is often called [ first- stage] of pleural mesothelioma is when cancer has grown or developed only in the lining of the lungs [ Pleura]. The best treatment option for this stage is Surgrey, Surgrey treatment may impact a patient’s life expectancy.
Note that, the average life -expectancy for a patient diagnosed with the first stage of pleural mesothelioma is 21 months.
Pleural mesothelioma Stage 2: Stage 2 which is often called the 2nd stage of pleural mesothelioma is when cancer has not spread to your chest wall but has reached close to your lymph nodes. The best treatment for this stage of pleural mesothelioma will be determined by your doctor. the average life expectancy for a patient with the stage is 19 months.
Pleural mesothelioma Stage 3: in this stage, your health provider may recommend a palliative treatment option for you. this stage 3 cancer has also spread to the lymph nodes and near your internal organs. Research suggests that the average life expectancy of a patient with this stage 3 is 16 months.
Pleural mesothelioma Stage 4: This stage happens to be the last or final stage of pleural mesothelioma, in this stage cancer has already reached your chest wall and other internal organs such as your Liver, heart, bone, Central nervous system, and Diaphragm.
Stage 4 treatment is mainly focused on palliative care and the average life expectancy is 12 months.
Pleural Mesothelioma Prognosis, Life Expectancy, And Survival Rate
Pleural mesothelioma prognosis is determined based on Your current health status, Cell type, or Stage of cancer. for example, pleural mesothelioma stage 1 has a favorable treatment option compared to other stages.
For example, If a patient has been diagnosed with stage 1 pleural mesothelioma, your life expectancy is much better than other patients diagnosed with stage 2, stage 3, and stage 4 pleural mesothelioma.
However, the majority of people that have been diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma may have a life expectancy of 12 months to 4 years after being diagnosed, it is also important to note that a life expectancy of a patient without treatment is 6 months. which means that proper treatment can impact a patient’s life expectancy.
Survival Rate: pleural survival rate is determined based on the type of treatment that was given to the patient, other factors include Age and cancer stage.
- The estimated survival rate of a patient after 6-month diagnosis account for 55 percentage
- The survival rate after 1-year diagnosis accounts for 33 percent
- And survival rate after a 5-year diagnosis is 5 percent.
Mesothelioma medical researchers are still working to gain more knowledge or new therapies that can impact the pleural mesothelioma survival rate.
Pleural Mesothelioma Treatment Options
Pleural mesothelioma treatment can impact your life expectancy and help with symptom management. Mesothelioma doctors treat pleural mesothelioma with a different type of treatment, the combination of these treatments can help in killing and removing tumors.
The main treatment option for mesothelioma is:
- Radiation therapy
This treatment is very effective to treat all types of mesothelioma including pleural mesothelioma.
An emerging treatment that helps in treating a patient with pleural mesothelioma includes
- Gene therapy
- Photodynamic therapy
Palliative care treatment options for a patient with the final stage of pleural mesothlioma include:
- Video-Assisted Thoracoscopic Surgery (VATS) Talc Pleurodesis
- Partial Pleurectomy
- PleurX™ Catheter
All these palliative options can help reduce pain and also impact a patient’s life.
Conclusion: Pleural mesothelioma treatment options are available, and though there is no permanent cure for this type of cancer it can be avoided. Yes, prevention they say is better than cure.
The best way to prevent this deadly disease is to avoid any asbestos-contaminated products or risk factors that may increase your chance of developing pleural mesothelioma.