What is Mesothelioma?Mesothelioma is directly linked to being exposed to asbestos. Asbestos is a natural mineral that can be used to make fire resistant products. When these products grow old with age or if they are disturbed in any way, the asbestos breaks off into very small fibers and/or dust. These fibers then go airborne and can hang around for hours. This is when people are most at risk to accidentally inhaling or ingesting these fibers. The scary part is, if you do actually take in these fibers, you will never know it happened because they are so small. That is why asbestos has been deemed, “The Silent Killer.” It is now clear on how mesothelioma is caused, but what is mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is a specific kind of cancer that develops in the lining of certain organs. This cancer most often occurs in the linings of the chest/lungs and abdomen. Mesothelioma receives its name from the cells that the cancer effects, the mesothelial cells. These are the cells that cover the outer surface of most internal body organs. These cells form a lining called mesothelium. When cancer starts developing in the mesothelium, this is known as Mesothelioma. Cancer is when healthy cells change and grow out of control or metastasize. With cancer cells, a mass, called a tumor, is formed. There are cancerous and benign tumors. If a cancerous tumor is malignant, it means that it can spread and grow in other parts of the body. A benign tumor can grow but it does not spread.
Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer and it originates in a few important internal. Between 75% and 80% of all mesothelioma cases start in the lining that surrounds the lungs. This form is called pleural mesothelioma. While this form starts in the chest cavity, it is often found in the lining of the lungs. Some say it is a type of lung cancer while others feel it would be incorrect to group it with lung cancer.
In 10% to 20% of mesothelioma cases, the cancer begins in the surrounding tissue of the abdomen. This form is called peritoneal mesothelioma. There are also two very rare forms of mesothelioma, pericardial mesothelioma and testicular mesothelioma (testicular being the absolute most rare). Pericardial mesothelioma originates in the tissue lining that surrounds and protects the heart (pericardium) and testicular mesothelioma develops in the tissue linin This lining is called the tunica vaginalis.g that surrounds the testicles.
Cell Types of Mesothelioma
When it comes to mesothelioma, there are three main cell types:
Epithelioid cancer is a type that may grow slower and can be effectively treated with chemotherapy. This type affects about 70% of mesothelioma patients.
Sarcomatoid cancer accounts for 7% to 15% of mesothelioma diagnosed. Treatment for the sarcomatoid is more difficult than other types. Treatment with chemotherapy often proves ineffective.
The final type is biphasic, or mixed type cancer. The 10% to 20% of mesothelioma patients that are diagnosed have a combination of the two previous types. Surprisingly, treatment works better here than for patients with only the sarcomatoid type, but is still less effective than if one only had the epithelioid type.
Benign tumors of the mesothelium can typically be removed with surgery, and usually do not require follow up treatment. Benign tumors are non-cancerous and do not spread. As with any form of malignant cancer, the earlier that mesothelioma is diagnosed, the better the odds for treatment working effectively. If you, or a loved one, have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, be sure to discuss all treatment and quality of life options with your doctor and mesothelioma specialist.
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