Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Understanding and Recognizing the Symptoms of Mesothelioma

Typically the most important variable determining the prognosis and life expectancy of a mesothelioma patient is the stage of the cancer when it is diagnosed. Unfortunately, mesothelioma is more difficult to "stage" than other cancers. This is true for a couple of reasons:

1) because its somewhat rare, and
2) because its initial symptoms are subtle it is usually advanced when diagnosed, making it difficult to stage.

Peritoneal mesothelioma in particular can be difficult to stage because, while pleural mesothelioma has multiple staging systems, pathologists still haven't developed a staging system for peritoneal mesothelioma. Both pleural and peritoneal types of mesothelioma are very serious conditions and neither have a good outlook.

Since mesothelioma is usually diagnosed at an advanced stage, the statistics for five year survival for early stage mesothelioma are usually unreliable. It also can not be said with certainty which of the two types is a worse diagnosis; peritoneal mesothelioma or pleural mesothelioma. Many studies show that peritoneal is a more deadly, and rapidly spreading mesothelioma than pleural mesothelioma, but these studies are often contradicted by specialists who argue pleural mesothelioma is the more dangerous and more difficult to treat of the two. Usually patients diagnosed with either peritoneal or pleural mesothelioma are told that they may have less than a year to live. However, according to researchers in leading research centers around the world this is not necessarily the case. More recent studies indicate that patients with mesothelioma might, in some instances, have a better out look than originally believed.

According to these studies about 10% of all people diagnosed with mesothelioma will be alive 3 years later and about 5% will be alive 5 years later. However, if the mesothelioma is detected in its earlier stages and treated, 50% will survive 2 years and 20% people will survive 5 years.

In one clinical trial involving 120 patients with different types of pleural mesothelioma, all of the patients underwent pleural pneumonectomies (removal of the lung and pleura), followed by radiotherapy and chemotherapy. 45 % were alive two years later and more than 20% were alive five years later.

In the same study, patients with sarcomatoid and mixed mesothelioma did not fare as well. Only 20% of these patients were alive two years later, and none of them survived five years.

However, patients that had no cancer in the lymph nodes and epithelioid type tumors did much better. Almost 75% survived longer than two years and nearly 40% were alive after five years.

Another much broader study conducted in Italy looked at the records of 4.5 million people diagnosed with mesothelioma. The survival rates were as follows: 24% of people with pleural mesothelioma and 34% diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma were still alive one year after diagnosis. Two other major studies, also reviewing comparable populations, also revealed similar findings.

Another variable that is extremely important to a patients out look is his or her overall health at the time of diagnosis. Generally the healthier a patient is, the better he or she will react to cancer treatments, and the greater the chances of longer survival. Doctor's have a method of grading a patients health and give each patient a score at the time of diagnosis. This method of grading is referred to as a patient's "performance status" (PS). The best score is 0 and indicates a patient can basically take care of him or herself with out assistance. A performance status of 1 indicates that a patient can do most things, but may need some assistance. The more deteriorated the patient's health, the higher the number.

The patient should always bear in mind that statistics such as the ones mentioned here are in no way definitive. Survivability has a lot to do with a number of different factors including health, type of mesothelioma, treatment choice, and even a patient's morale. The statistics listed here are too general for individual patients to get an exact idea of their own out look.

Patients should consider taking part in clinical trials. Though no one can say exactly why; patients who are treated in clinic trials fare better on average than those who are treated conventionally. Perhaps with all the tests and monitoring that is done, patients become more confident that all that can possibly be done, is being done.

Monday, 4 May 2009

Mesothelioma is a Type of Cancer

Mesothelioma is a type of cancer affecting the cells of mesothelial lining in the chest and abdomen. Mesothelioma is rare, though it appears to be on the rise. Approximately 2,000 to 3,000 new cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed each year in the United States alone. Symptoms for both types of mesothelioma are not specific only to this disease, and often go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed for a significant amount of time. Difficulty breathing, abdominal and chest pain, and fever can all be attributed to other causes, so this cancer has time to advance fair before diagnosis usually occurs. Due to the difficulty in diagnosis of mesothelioma, survival time after diagnosis is estimated at about a year.

there's five main types of mesothelioma. The first type, pleural mesothelioma, spreads within the chest cavity, and sometimes involves the lungs. This type or cancer can metastasize in to any of the body’s organs, including the brain.

The second type of mesothelioma is peritoneal mesothelioma. This cancer invades the abdominal cavity, the liver, spleen, and sometimes the bowel. Predominant symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma include persistent pain the region and a swollen abdomen, both due to the accumulation of fluid in the abdomen and affected organs. Other symptoms include nausea, vomiting, and swelling of feet, fever, and difficulty moving the bowels. The prognosis for peritoneal mesothelioma is worse than that of pleural mesothelioma, with a median survival time of only ten months past diagnosis.

Metastasis occurs more often than previously thought, and signals the disease’s progression. Symptoms of pleural mesothelioma include persistent pain in the chest and severe difficulty breathing caused
by pleural effusion, or an accumulation of fluid in the pleural lining Cough, weight loss, and fever are also common symptoms. Survival time for this type of mesothelioma is better than that of peritoneal mesothelioma. The median survival time is 17 months, with ten percent of patients living for two years after diagnosis.

The progression of mesothelioma is broken down to five stages. These stages provide a baseline to predict how far along the cancer has spread. Staging is based on x-rays, CT scans, and MRI imaging. Treatment decisions and prognosis depend on the stage of the mesothelioma, as well as the kind if mesothelioma. In the first stage, mesothelioma is present in the pleura, lung, pericardium, or diaphragm, and is localized to five side of the body. Mesothelioma invades the chest wall or the esophagus during the second stage. The second stage may also see cancer in the heart, both sides of the pleura, or the lymph nodes in the chest. The third stage involves penetration through the diaphragm and in to the peritoneum, and sees cancer spread to more distant lymph nodes. The fourth and final stage occurs when tests provide evidence of metastases in distant organs. Within the fourth stage, the mesothelioma spreads through the bloodstream to these new sights.

Mesothelioma takes five rarer forms. Benign mesothelioma is a cancer of the mesothelioma of the peritoneum. The peritoneum is the lining of the major organs in the chest and abdomen. it is difficult to diagnose, and appears more frequently in young women. Mesothelioma of the pericardium is a very rare cardiac cancer. Mesothelioma can also occur in the ovaries and scrotum. The prognosis for these unusual kinds of mesothelioma, with the exception of benign mesothelioma, is very poor.

Mesothelioma is most often caused by exposure to Asbestos. Asbestos was frequently used for insulation in homes or businesses. Schools, factories, and military buildings have also been found to contain asbestos. Radiation from thorium dioxide may also cause mesothelioma. This material was once used for x-rays, though was not widely used for long. Zeolite, a silicate material related to asbestos, may also cause mesothelioma. Cases of Zeolite-induced mesothelioma centralize in the Anatoli region of Turkey.

What is Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is a cancer of the mesothelium; the protective sac that covers and protects most internal organs of the body. The mesothelium has six layers, five, which covers the organ, and a second, which forms a sac around it. The mesothelium has different names depending on the location in the body. The pleura is the name for the mesothelial tissue surrounding the lungs and lining the chest cavity. The peritoneum covers most of the organs in the abdominal cavity, while the pericardium covers and protects the heart.

The mesothelium produces a lubricating fluid that allows organs within it to move and glide easily. The fluid allows the lungs to breathe and the heart to expand and contract without generating any type of internal friction.

Like other forms of cancer, mesothelioma occurs when cells become abnormal and divide or grow out of control. When someone has mesothelioma, the helpful lubricating fluid described above may be over-produced. This excess fluid encases the organs with a thick layer of tumor tissue, described as a rind type of layer. In advanced cases of mesothelioma, cells metastasize, or grow and invade other organs and spread to other areas of the body.
The majority of individuals suffering from mesothelioma have cancer in the lining of the lung. sometimes, mesothelioma occurs in the lining of the abdominal cavity (peritoneal mesothelioma) or in the lining of the heart (pericardial mesothelioma).

The symptoms of mesothelioma are common to a quantity of illnesses which means that mesothelioma is difficult to diagnose. Unique types of treatment for mesothelioma are still being investigated through clinical trials and research, but as a general rule, mesothelioma does not respond well to most treatments that are currently being offered.

Mesothelioma is caused by breathing or ingesting asbestos fibers. The coarse fibers cause scarring of the mesothelial tissue which can cause asbestosis or pleural plaques. Unfortunately, the scarring can also lead to cancer known as mesothelioma.

It often takes 20 to 50 years after exposure to asbestos before the symptoms of mesothelioma create. This period of time is referred to as a latency period. Because of the latency period, the disease commonly affects men and women that are at least 50 years of age and that worked with asbestos between 20 and 50 years ago. plenty of workers working 20 to 50 years ago did not use any type of protection in the workplace while they were exposed to the dust or fibers from asbestos. simultaneously, however, plenty of of the companies employing the workers had full knowledge that asbestos was dangerous and that exposure to asbestos would harm the health of plenty of of the workers. Insulators, plasterers, electricians, pipefitters, mechanics, ironworkers, ship builders, ship workers, brick layers, carpenters, and other tradesmen are a few examples of workers that were likely to work with asbestos on a day-to-day basis. Also at risk are the families of these workers, as the asbestos fibers may be brought in to the home from the clothes, skin, or hair of the worker.

Unfortunately, millions of people have been exposed to asbestos over the years. Only now are they able to see the disastrous effects of asbestos exposure in the workplace.

If the mesothelioma is detected in the earlier stages and treated aggressively, studies have shown that half will survive six years and 20 percent will survive three years. However, if the diagnosis is for Advanced Mesothelioma, only 10 percent have a three-year survival rate and only 5 percent have a life expectancy of three years.
Keep in mind that these statistics should only be used as general guidelines, and not as a definitive idea of an individual patient's survival rate. Patients are encouraged to speak with their physicians about their individual prognosis.

As with other cancers, a fast diagnosis is important to effective treatment of mesothelioma. If you believe that you may have mesothelioma and that you worked with asbestos in the past, you may wish to inform your doctor of this fact.