Everything You Must Know About Mesothelioma
Could you be living in an asbestos-exposed environment? In that case, you are at risk of developing malignant mesothelioma.
In such an environment, you are more likely to inhale and ingest asbestos fibers unknowingly.
Most of the old buildings and homes have old pipe systems made of asbestos. Others may still have asbestos roofing, although such roofs are rare since most governments directed the replacement of asbestos with other safe roofing to avoid toxicity.
Asbestos toxicity can lead to various health issues, such as malignant mesothelioma.
What Is Malignant Mesothelioma?
Malignant mesothelioma is a type of cancer with its tumor occurring in the tissue lining cells, also known as the mesothelium. The malignant mesothelioma tumor mostly affects the lungs, heart, stomach, and in rare cases, the testes.
Mesothelioma can either be cancerous or non-cancerous. It means that it can either be malignant or, in sporadic cases, benign type of mesothelioma.
Benign vs. Malignant Mesothelioma Malignant Mesothelioma
Malignant mesothelioma relates to a tumor that is cancerous or has cancer cells. Malignant mesothelioma is an aggressive asbestos-related cancer condition that is treatable but incurable.
The cancerous cells in malignant mesothelioma can quickly spread to other nearby tissues and body parts.
Benign mesothelioma is a non-cancerous tumor in the tissue lining or mesothelium, which does not result from asbestos exposure. It is easy to treat it since it does not spread or metastasize to other body parts as in malignant mesothelioma.
A physician can easily remove the tumor through surgery without risking cancer spread. However, some benign mesothelioma tumors can change to become malignant.
Keep reading to learn everything about this peculiar cancerous condition.
Malignant Mesothelioma Key Facts
In the United States alone, mesothelioma diagnosed cases are about 3,000.
Pleural mesothelioma (one type of mesothelioma) takes 75% of all cases, with men taking a more significant share than women.
The latency time (resting time) between asbestos exposure and diagnosing mesothelioma is about 30 years. The median survival or life expectancy after the diagnosis is about 12 to 21 months, but it can expand to five years, depending on the response to treatment.
The primary age of mesothelioma patients is between 50 and 70 years and especially for pleural mesothelioma. The latency period could be the main reason for the average age factor.
Asbestos is more to blame for mesothelioma. Asbestos is a fibrous material that people used for roofing, insulation and other industrial settings many years back.
Malignant Mesothelioma Cell Type
Although there may be various mesothelioma cell types, most doctors base the disease prognosis on only three main cell types.
The three cell types are:
Epithelioid cell type is the most common among the other three. The square-shaped epithelioid cells adhere to one another to form a solid sheet-like structure. The sticking-together feature of epithelioid cells makes them slow to metastasize or spread to other parts of the body, easy to diagnose, and easy to treat.
Patients with an epithelioid cell type of mesothelioma can live up to 19 months or beyond if responding well to treatment.
Biphasic is another type of mesothelioma. It is a standard cell type which is second to epithelioid and accounts for about 20% of all other mesothelioma cell types.
Biphasic cell type combines and shares cells of the other two cell types, epithelioid and sarcomatoid. It is a unique cell type containing the two cell types. The diagnosis and treatment of the mesothelioma cell type would vary with the dominant cell type.
Sarcomatoid is a rare cell type of mesothelioma. The cells in sarcomatoid have a unique spindle and oval shape, giving it another name of spindle cell mesothelioma.
The cells of sarcomatoid are very aggressive and spread rapidly to other body parts. This condition is also not easy to diagnose, which makes it challenging to treat.
Types of Mesothelioma and Symptoms
Mesothelioma, in its early stages, such as in the latency period, may not show any signs or symptoms. During the period, the tumor may be inconspicuous even during an X-ray examination due to its size.
There are four different types of mesothelioma with varying tumor locations. The symptoms would vary depending on the nature of the particular mesothelioma cancer. The extent of the disease after the latency period can also reveal varying signs or symptoms.
For mesothelioma symptoms precision, it would be wise to split them according to its different types.
Malignant mesothelioma occurs as four different types with varying symptoms, which are:
Pleural mesothelioma is a malignant type of cancer that affects the lungs' tissue cells of the protective lining called pleural.
Generally, mesothelioma's main causing factor is through breathing in asbestos fibers, which then affects the lungs. Pleural mesothelioma has more cases than the other types making it a common type of mesothelioma.
When you breathe in asbestos fibers, they mostly attach themselves to the lungs lining. The asbestos fiber may then scar or irritate the lining surface to cause inflammation. After some time, the scarring worsens to form a tumor.
Pleural Mesothelioma Symptoms
Due to the three different cell types of mesothelioma, the symptoms may differ slightly with each cell type. However, the general symptoms of pleural mesothelioma include:
- Chest pain
- Pleural effusion (lungs with fluid)
- Shortness of breath
- Persistent dry cough
- Rib area or lower back pain
- An abnormal lump-like swelling on your chest
- Night sweating
- Weight loss
A wrong diagnosis, treatment, or other reasons, can advance the condition and hence produce other severe symptoms while spreading to other parts of the body:
- Producing bloody coughs
- Difficulty and painful breathing
- Difficulty swallowing
Malignant Peritoneal Mesothelioma (MPM)
Peritoneal mesothelioma is a cancer of the abdominal cavity lining known as peritoneum. It comes second to pleural in the most common mesothelioma types of cancer, with a percentage of between 15 and 20% of the total cases.
The leading cause of this abdominal cancer is through ingesting of industrial pollutants and especially asbestos fibers. Just like pleural mesothelioma, the asbestos fibers attach or lounge in the lining through the piercing and hence scarring the lining.
The scarred part can advance to cause inflammation, which can further grow into a cancerous tumor.
Due to its nonspecific nature symptoms, peritoneal mesothelioma becomes a challenge to diagnose. Using diagnostic laparoscopy can result in a definite diagnosis.
Peritoneal type of mesothelioma can manifest itself as either of the three cell types discussed earlier on. The three are epithelioid, sarcomatoid, and biphasic.
Although the nature of peritoneal mesothelioma is malignancy and aggressive, it confines to remain within the abdominal cavity due to the potential limitation of lymphatic metastatic. It, therefore, rarely spreads to the lymph nodes.
The condition can easily escape early diagnosis due to its rare, nonspecific, and late symptoms, causing challenges in treatment due to probable cancer spread in the abdominal cavity.
With early diagnosis and advanced treatment, the patient's life expectancy can extend to five years or more.
Symptoms of Malignant Peritoneal Mesothelioma
Peritoneal mesothelioma can take years to reveal signs after ingesting toxic industrial pollutants or minerals. It can also take up to six months for other symptoms to appear after the initial ones and hence delay diagnosing it.
- Peritoneal mesothelioma symptoms include:
- Abdominal distension
- Abdominal pain
- Fluid collection in the abdomen
- Weight loss
- Night sweating
Pericardial mesothelioma is a heart lining (pericardium) cancer. It is a rare type of cancer, with only about 50 cases diagnosed in the US annually.
The heart mesothelioma type accounts for about 1 to 2% of all diagnosed mesothelioma cases.
Most cases of pericardial mesothelioma originate from asbestos, radiation, non-asbestos such as erionite exposure, diseases such as TB and SV40 virus, or smoking.
According to a 2017 Clinical Oncology journal, pericardial mesothelioma is more common to male patients than females. The study quantifies that 61% of all pericardial mesothelioma cases are male, while 39% are female.
The pericardial tumor may also spread from other types of cancers such as breast cancer, lymphoma, melanoma, or even acute leukemia.
Pericardial Mesothelioma Symptoms
- Chest pain
- Night sweating
- Difficulty breathing
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- General weakness
Pericardial effusion, visible tumor, pericardium inflammation, and heart fluid compression are signs seen through imaging tests
Pericardial mesothelioma can present itself as pericardial effusion (excess fluid in the heart lining), chronic pericardium inflammation, and congestive heart failure.
Testicular mesothelioma is another type of aggressive cancer. If undetected, it can metastasize rapidly. The condition can also recur over a certain period after surgically removing the tumor.
This type of mesothelioma cancer is so rare and hence accounts for 1% of mesothelioma cases and with only 100 cases mentioned in the medical literature.
Testicular mesothelioma is a malignant tumor growth in the tunica varginalis (testicles lining). Although the cause of testicular mesothelioma might be asbestos exposure, most people would wonder how the disease or the tissue lining connects to asbestos.
The condition can originate from other tissue lining cancers such as peritoneal, which are directly connected to ingesting asbestos.
Other known causes of testicular mesothelioma are:
- Past groin area trauma
- Previous groin area surgery such as hernioplasty or herniorrhaphy (hernia surgery)
- Long-term scrotum swelling due to fluid buildup
Just like the other types of mesothelioma, the testicular may be asymptomatic. On rare occasions, the symptoms can include:
- Testicular Mesothelioma Symptoms
- Swelling-like fluid buildup (hydrocele)
- A tumor or mass in the testicles
- Severe pain in the testes
What are the Causes of Mesothelioma?
The general and common mesothelioma causing factor is asbestos. It can either be direct or indirect asbestos exposure.
As you may know, any type of asbestos is a high risk of cancer through ingestion. 90% of the total cases of mesothelioma account for asbestos exposure. The other 10% can be other causes such as trauma, metastasizing, other diseases, or genetic mutations.
The sharp asbestos fibers can lodge or embed in the tissue linings of the organs such as the lungs, abdominal, heart, and testes. The lining scarring of the asbestos fiber can cause inflammation and, eventually, a cancerous tumor.
The asbestos can indirectly cause mesothelioma through DNA damage and gene mutation.
Mesothelioma Risk Factors
- Exposure to asbestos which is a high risk of breathing in the toxic fiber
- Exposure to erionite, which is another toxic fibrous mineral
- DNA damage by asbestos fibers
- Family history of mesothelioma
- Asbestos exposure from clothes of one working in an asbestos-exposed environment
- Radiation therapy at the body areas prone to mesothelioma such as the chest
- Contaminated Polio vaccines with simian virus 40 (SV40) administered between 1955 and 1963
Diagnosis of Mesothelioma
After presenting symptoms similar to mesothelioma, your oncologist or surgeon may suggest several examination procedures to make a diagnosis. Some of the processes are:
- Chest X-ray
- CT scan
If the results of these examination procedures are abnormal, your medical personnel may recommend you undergo other confirmation examination procedures.
The examinations may involve Blood tests and another series of thorough imaging scans.
Treatment of mesothelioma can ensue immediately after the examination results confirm the presence of any type of mesothelioma. Your doctor may use any treatment procedure suitable for the particular mesothelioma cancer stage or type.
You can prevent yourself from mesothelioma by lowering or avoiding the risk factors. If you are an industrial worker, you can inquire to find out whether you have any asbestos material around you.
If you are a brake mechanic or an overall mechanic, you are at risk of exposing yourself to asbestos from brake pads.
Wear protective gear when at risk of asbestos exposure, such as dealing with asbestos brake pads. The damage may not be immediate but may manifest in the future.
You can also prevent risking your family from passive exposure to asbestos through clothes or hair. Wear protective gear such as covering your head and working clothes you can change before going home.
If you live or work in an old building or home, consult an expert to test the air around your home or office for any asbestos.
You are at risk of mesothelioma if you previously were, or currently, you are exposed to asbestos. You may need to consult your doctor, who may perform examinations to clear any doubt or fear.
Not only can mesothelioma pass from a parent to a child through asbestos exposure from clothes carrying the fiber, but it is a 1% genetically inherited risk factor. BAP1 gene mutation is the primary genetic action in one of the mesothelioma causing factor.
Even though mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer, it can be aggressive, leaving you with quite a short mesothelioma life expectancy of between one and five years.
Knowing what is in your surrounding and assessing how safe you are should be the bottom line of avoiding asbestos exposure and other toxic materials or chemicals. Take preliminary actions involving a professional to assess your entire environment of such toxicity.
Mesothelioma Complementary and Alternative Therapy
There are various alternative treatments for respiratory health issues. However, you may require consulting your health practitioner for the best therapy and advice. The following are some of the recommendations from our natural health practitioner, Yvonne Dollar Perc.
The following are our recommendations:
Lobelia Extract. Lobelia has a long history of use in traditional herbal medicine as an expectorant for the upper respiratory tract. Lobelia is best known in traditional herbal medicine for its expectorant properties. Expectorants help the body to remove excess mucus from the respiratory tract.
Mullein. Mullein is a well-known herb used to treat the upper respiratory tract as an expectorant and demulcent.
Alpha CMP3 Marine Phytoplankton. We have dedicated a full article on this wonderful plankton. And watchTom Harper's Testimonial below.
Take full responsibility for your health by living in a clean environment. If you suspect asbestos, other toxic minerals, or metal exposure, visit your medical facility to examine your health.
At Island Healthworks Clinic, we perform total body bio-systems analysis using our modern technology. The bio-system examination includes live blood analysis, metal testing, and other medical assessments to determine toxicity, body stresses, and genetic health factors.
Please put a stop to mesothelioma by sharing the information with everyone you care for.
Don't forget to leave us your comments. We would love to know your thoughts.
Island Healthworks offers in-person and virtual consultations for assessment of your specific needs, with health & lifestyle coaching, featuring the best of integrative natural health care. To book your consultation, please call 250-468-7685!
This article is intended for educational purposes and the information contained within is not intended to treat, diagnose or cure any disease or health problem. Please seek appropriate medical attention for any health complaints. We cannot take responsibility for your health care decisions. Our intent is only to offer health information to help you with your search for better health.
I didn't know that a tumor can form in your body when asbestos fibers get stuck to your lungs after inhaling them. My brother has been coughing more often than usual ever since he moved into our late uncle's house last year, and I am worried that there might be some asbestos in his attic that he hasn't noticed. Maybe he should find someone that can help ensure that his house is safe to live in.