Pleural mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer that develops in the chest and the lungs. It builds when strands of asbestos fibers get into the lungs and cause scarring. According to Cleveland Clinic, the pleural type makes up 3 out of 4 mesothelioma cases. Since it is the most popular type of mesothelioma, it’s essential to study how it arises and who it impacts.
The knowledge can help you take precautions or check into a hospital to ensure you don’t have it. So for your understanding, here is what you need to know about pleural mesothelioma:
What Is Pleural Mesothelioma?
Pleural mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer that develops in the lungs (pleura). It occurs in the thin membrane which lines the lungs and the chest cavity. The leading cause of pleural mesothelioma is the inhalation of asbestos fibers. Every year doctors diagnose 3,000 new patients with this type of cancer in the United States.
The disease itself gets managed through cancer treatments such as surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy since it has no cure yet. It’s best to get treatment if you’re sure you have been around asbestos long. It would help if you learned what causes the development of pleural mesothelioma and how doctors catch it.
How Does Pleural Mesothelioma Develop?
The most common cause of pleural mesothelioma is asbestos fibers. But, other substances such as the mineral zeolite and high doses of radiation can cause the disease. When you use asbestos, it releases microscopic fibers. These tiny fibers travel down your lungs and lodge themselves in there. Since the threads are sharp, they scar the lung tissue causing irritation, inflammation, and symptoms like a severe cough.
Pleural mesothelioma takes time to develop. It needs at least 20-50 years after initial exposure. Since it has such an extensive timeline, there is a chance you learn about the illness why you’re 75. Doctors catch the disease by observing growth in the chest cavity under the ribs or the thin layer over your lungs. Some cases of pleural mesothelioma also develop in the pleural (lung) fluids that cover the lungs.
How Is Pleural Mesothelioma Diagnosed?
Tell-tale symptoms include intense chest pain, shortness of breath, hoarseness in talking, and blood in the sputum. But, these alone are not enough for a doctor to establish a diagnosis. They would recommend you to do different tests. These include X-rays, biopsies, and CT scans. X-rays and CT scans allow doctors to study the delicate internal structures and find abnormal lumps or growths. Depending on their length and location, a doctor may schedule you for a biopsy when they show up on X-rays.
The medical procedure extracts a small piece of the patient’s lung tissue for investigation. Doctors may also drain the fluid in the lungs to study it. You may also get advice to get complete blood work done and submit samples of your mucus. These procedures are essential since it helps confirm pleural mesothelioma. Then comes the extensive treatment process.
Who Is At Risk Of Developing Pleural Mesothelioma?
While anyone can develop pleural mesothelioma, some people are at a higher risk than others. Those at risk must know their chances of getting pleural mesothelioma is high, and they should consult a doctor. Asbestos is present all around us in water, air, and soil, but constant exposure is what can make you sick. That is why it’s essential to consider the risk factor that contributes to the illness:
- By Occupation. People working in the automotive or industrial sector are at high risk, be it construction workers, firefighters, plumbers, or insulation manufacturers. Their profession brings them face to face with copious amounts of asbestos products. For example, plumbers work with pipes containing traces of asbestos inside them.
As time passes, so does their exposure to the airborne asbestos fibers. When they remove and change them, it causes micro-scratches on the surfaces, releasing the fibers. The best way these professionals can protect themselves is by wearing protective gear when they work. They speak to their respective managers to provide sufficient PPEs while working with different asbestos products.
- By Gender. Men have a higher risk of getting pleural mesothelioma than women. Most men work in industries and professions working with asbestos compared to women. Along with their gender, older men who have crossed 65 seem to get pleural mesothelioma.
However, people staying in old houses, at least from the 1980s, can get pleural mesothelioma no matter their gender. Before asbestos products got banned, companies heavily used them to construct homes. So, it’s best to get details of the house you’re staying in. You can also get asbestos surveys done to make sure you’re safe in your home.
- By Ethnicity. There are reported cases of pleural mesothelioma commonly in white communities. In contrast, Asians and Latinos have little to no chance of pleural mesothelioma. Doctors don’t have a specific reason why white communities have a high rate of pleural mesothelioma.
They need to assess each case to determine a prognosis. If the patient has genetic mutations, worked with mesothelioma products, and smoked frequently, they may get it.
What Is The Treatment For Pleural Mesothelioma?
Doctors will prescribe cancer treatment procedures to alleviate mesothelioma. Diseases like cancer have no cure yet. They only go through preventive measures to prevent spreading. You may have to get surgery to remove cancerous cells from your lungs. Another method is to give you multiple doses of chemotherapy. The final procedure is radiation therapy.
Pleural mesothelioma is a cancer of the lungs. The causation could be asbestos fibers. If you come down with pleural mesothelioma, you will get a set of unusual symptoms. A doctor can confirm the diagnosis for you and begin treatment. Not everyone gets mesothelioma.
Certain risk factors play a part in its prognosis. A person’s occupation, gender, and ethnicity contribute to getting it. The more you work closely with asbestos over several years, the higher your chances. While there is no cure yet, consult a doctor and look at preventive measures to curb the illness.
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