By William Johnston
Pleural mesothelioma is the most common form of mesothelioma by far and accounts for 75% of all mesothelioma cases. Pleural mesothelioma affects the respiratory areas of the body such as the lungs. More specifically, the cancer attacks the lining of the lungs and ribs called the pleura hence the name pleural mesothelioma.
The main cause of pleural mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos. Only a couple of months of being exposed to the deadly dust and fibres of asbestos without protection can lead to pleural mesothelioma thirty to fifty years later. Elderly men of ages sixty to seventy are those most at risk to asbestos because this was the generation which worked with asbestos with little protection from the dust and fibres. Due to the long latency period of pleural mesothelioma (30-50 years), these men are only just discovering they have the deadly cancer. Currently, many of these men are lodging million dollar lawsuits against the companies who exposed them to asbestos. Asbestos fibres get into the lining of the lungs by inhalation and become lodged inside the lungs.
The symptoms that are associated with pleural mesothelioma include persistent coughing, difficulty swallowing, facial swelling, weight loss, fever, rasping and coughing up blood. Patients may additionally experience shortness of breath because as the tumour on the lining of the lungs expands, this leaves less room for the lungs to function properly. Some patients also begin to feel severe pains in their chest and this is due to the spreading of cancerous cells. A lot of these symptoms are similar to diseases and conditions which are far more common than mesothelioma which means that pleural mesothelioma is often very difficult to diagnose until it is too late.
Treatment of pleural mesothelioma is limited and as yet there is no proper cure. Research is being conducted in labs all over the United States and many pharmaceutical companies are also testing for new treatments. Treatments for pleural mesothelioma include chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery. A patient’s age, medical record, weight and other such factors are taken into account before treatment. Generally, chance of survival is far more likely if pleural mesothelioma is treated aggressively in its early stages because once the cancer has developed and matured it is very difficult to cure.
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