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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Pleural Mesothelioma: Mesothelioma of the Pleura



Pleural Mesothelioma: Mesothelioma of the Pleura

Pleural mesothelioma is a disease that affects the lining of the lungs, or lung pleura. Sometimes doctors refer to this disease as mesothelioma of the pleura. It is a common misconception that mesothelioma is a type of primary lung cancer; it is not. Mesothelioma is a cancer of the serous membranes. These membranes enclose a number of organs throughout the midsection of the body, including the lungs. The most common type of mesothelioma, pleural mesothelioma, affects the serous membranes of the lungs.

Mesothelioma can also affect the serous membranes surrounding the abdomen, called peritoneal mesothelioma, and the membranes surrounding the heart, or pericardial mesothelioma. When mesothelioma spreads to the lungs from the serous linings of the lungs, abdomen or heart, it is considered secondary lung cancer. Also, pleural mesothelioma is sometimes referred to as an asbestos lung cancer. Technically, cancers that do not originate in the lungs are not considered lung cancer; thus, terms such as secondary lung cancer and asbestos lung cancer (pleural mesothelioma) are misleading. Asbestosis is a type of asbestos lung disease that does originate in the lungs and is often confused with mesothelioma.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Pleural Mesothelioma Cancer


Pleural Mesothelioma Cancer

Pleural mesothelioma cancer represents about 75 percent of all mesothelioma cases. This disease is caused by the inhalation of asbestos fibers, which then settle in the lungs. These asbestos fibers become imbedded in the lining of the lung (the pleura). Over time, they cause chronic inflammation that eventually leads to growth of cancerous tumors or, in some cases, asbestosis.

Pleural mesothelioma cancer normally appears as multiple tumor masses affecting the parietal surface (outside; further from the lung) and visceral surface (inside; closer to the lung) of the pleura. Typically, the parietal surface has greater involvement than the visceral. There is a slightly higher incidence of mesothelioma in the right lung, apparently due to the fact that the right lung is larger and has a greater amount of pleural surface area. Also, the lower lungs typically show more tumor masses than the upper lung. This is thought to be due to gravitational factors influencing how the asbestos fibers settle in the lungs after they have been inhaled.

Large growths in the pleura are normally noted in patients upon diagnosis. As the diseases progresses, these growths lead to a complete obliteration of the lung cavity. The tumors can spread from the lung pleura to other organs, including the heart and abdomen. Mesothelioma can also invade the lymph nodes and circulatory system.

Tumors unrelated to pleural mesothelioma also grow in the pleura. These tumors start in other parts of the body and metastasize to the pleura. The most common form of non-pleural mesothelioma cancer that occurs is lung cancer, representing about 36 percent of the cancer occurring in the pleura. The next most common forms are breast cancer (25 percent), ovarian cancer (5 percent) and gastric cancer (2 percent). Lymphoma also accounts for a small portion of cancers that metastasize to the pleura.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Causes of Pleural Mesothelioma

Causes of Pleural Mesothelioma

Asbestos causes pleural mesothelioma. Used in a variety of industrial and construction applications, asbestos fibers are small, lightweight, strong, and easily airborne.

Once in the air these fibers are easily inhaled or injested, their size and sharp shape makes it easy for them work their way into the smallest passageways of the lungs and then into the pleura. Asbestos fibers thwart the body's natural defenses. Whether it is the sharp shape of the asbestos fibers, an unknown chemical reaction, or a combination of both these factors that cause the mesothelial cells of the pleura to become abnormal and divide without control is unknown. The connection, however, between asbestos and pleural mesothelioma has been clear since the begining of the 1960s.

Asbestos is the single largest cause of occupational cancer in the US1. In addition to pleural mesothelioma, asbestos causes lung cancer, other forms of mesothelioma, including peritoneal mesothelioma, and it is linked to several other types of cancer such as colon, stomach, throat, and laryngeal cancer.

In addition, absestos causes several non-cancerous conditions such as asbestosis, pleural effusions, pleural plaques, and pleural thickening (also known as pleural fibrosis). The majority of those diagnosed with these non-malignant conditions do not develop mesothelioma. However, the asbestos exposure levels associated with these conditions is an important factor to take into account when considering your risk of developing pleural mesothelioma.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Mesothelioma Doctors

Mesothelioma Doctors


Among oncologists, there are physicians who focus on mesothelioma, a rare form of thoracic cancer in the lining of the body's internal organs. While there is no cure for the disease, mesothelioma doctors are actively engaging with new treatments each day. Mesothelioma doctors are not particularly many in number, as the field is small, but all who have devoted their area of expertise to mesothelioma are working diligently each day towards finding a cure.

Mesothelioma doctors require a specialization because it is such a rare cancer. It has its own set of treatments and research that are unique to the disease. Mesothelioma doctors must be aware of a mesothelioma patient's candidacy for certain treatments. For example, a physician in the discipline would be able to identify the stage of the surgery because of prior experience in order to determine if a particular patient is operable, or is better suited for another treatment such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy.

Mesothelioma doctors serve an important purpose in today's clinical world. Please visit our biographies of some exceptional physicians within the field and see information regarding their recent research and trials in mesothelioma. By spreading awareness we can join forces to eliminate this unfortunate cancer.
Pleural Mesothelioma

Pleural Mesothelioma Symptoms

Pleural Mesothelioma Symptoms

"Do I have pleural mesothelioma?" If you have been asking yourself this question, chances are you have a history of asbestos exposure.

Pleural mesothelioma's symptoms are not specific, and may indicate other, less serious, conditions. However, if you know you have a history of asbestos exposure, it is wise to be proactive regarding your health care choices and observant of potential symptoms of pleural mesothelioma. Have regular check ups with your physician and make sure he or she is aware of your concerns and your history of asbestos exposure.

Pleural mesothelioma is a dose-dependent disease, meaning that the longer and more heavily your exposure to asbestos, the greater the chance you have of developing pleural mesothelioma (or another type of mesothelioma). This dose-dependence can also affect how quickly you are diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma, although the disease is known for its long latency periods of 10, 20, even as many as 40 years from exposure to disease progression.
symptoms-of-pleural-mesothelioma.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Symptoms of Pleural Mesothelioma

Symptoms of Pleural Mesothelioma

Symptoms of pleural mesothelioma may include, but are not limited to:

  • Breathlessness (dyspnea)
Along with shortness of breath, patients may suffer from a cough. Rarely, patients may develop hoarsness or cough up blood (hemoptysis).
  • Chest pain
Chest pain is often nonspecific, and may sometimes be felt in upper abdomen, shoulder, or arm. Chest pain and breathlessness are the most common, and usually earliest presenting, symptoms of pleural mesothelioma
  • Weight Loss
Unexplained weight loss is cited as a symptom in about a third of pleural mesothelioma cases.
  • Pleural effusion
A pleural effusion is the result of too much fluid building up between the parietal and visceral pleura (linings of the chest and lungs, respectively); a pleural effusion may cause chest pain and difficulty breathing (dyspnea), however, many cause no symptoms and are first discovered during the physical examination or seen on a chest x-ray.
  • Night sweats
Less common, but still cited enough to be considerd a symptom of pleural mesothelioma are fever, chills, and night sweats.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Diagnosing Pleural Mesothelioma

Diagnosing Pleural Mesothelioma

A physical exam and patient history will likely be your doctor's first step in diagnosing pleural mesothelioma. Past exposure to asbestos is a strong risk factor for pleural mesothelioma and the longer and more seriously you were exposed to asbestos, the greater your risk. If your doctor does not ask about your work history and potential mesothelioma risk factors, let him or her know about your asbestos exposure.

The next step is usually an x-ray of the chest. Pleural effusions, masses, and scarring may be seen on x-rays. Because x-rays are less sensitive than newer imaging techniques, an abnormal finding on an x-ray will likely prompt your physician to order further imaging through a CT or CAT scan or MRI. This will likely provide a better idea of the size, location, and invasiveness of the mass, but not a definitive diagnosis, nor a complete picture of if the mesothelioma has metastized into the lymph system.

Once a suspicious mass or fluid has been spotted, your doctor will probably order a thoracentesis and/or biopsy be performed.

Thoracentesis is a minimilarly invasive procedure where fluid is removed from the pleural space. As many as 95% of patients with pleural mesothelioma have pleural effusions, or excess fluid collection in the pleural space. Thoracentesis (or thoracocentesis) is generally an outpatient procedure and usually requires only local anesthestic. A hollow needle or catheter is interted into the chest to drain the accumuated fluid.

Generally the first biopsy, or tissue collection, performed is a fine-needle aspiration biopsy. Using a thin, hollow needle, cells from the suspcious mass are extracted. Like the thoracentesis, it is not as invasive as many surgical procedures and can help avoid the need for diagnostic surgery.

The collected fluid and/or biopsy tissue will then be sent for analysis by pathologist and/or cytologists. These specialists will look for signs of cancerous cells in the samples. Immunohistochemistry is the chemical staining of these samples to better identify abnormal cells. "Immunos," as these tests are sometimes called, are an important form of testing and are usually recommended.

If a definitive diagnosis has still not been reached, more invasive testing may be required. Your doctor may perform a thoracoscopy; this involves inserting a lighted scope, sometimes with a camera on it, into the chest for a closer look. If suspicious masses are seen, the doctor may cut out a sample of tissue to be examined for maligant cells.