Malignant pleural mesothelioma is the most common type of mesothelioma, making up over two-thirds of all cases. Pleural mesothelioma affects the lining of the lung and chest cavity known as the pleura.
Pleural mesothelioma spreads within the chest cavity, sometimes involving the lung. Asbestos fibers work their way into the smallest passageways of the lungs and then into the pleura. Once there, an unknown chemical reaction causes cancerous cell development. As the cells begin to divide abnormally, the pleural lining thickens and excess fluid may accumulate. Pleural thickening gradually contracts the breathing space, causing shortness of breath often the first symptom of pleural mesothelioma. The fluid, once carefully measured to allow smooth movement between the lungs and other organs, now causes increased pressure, further hindering breathing. This excess fluid is often seen on X-rays, and is referred to as a pleural effusion.
Pleural Mesothelioma Symptoms
The onset of pleural mesothelioma is usually very slow. The most common presenting symptom of pleural mesothelioma is persistent pain localized in the chest. Sometimes the pain is accompanied by severe difficulty breathing due to a pleural effusion. Cough, weight loss and fever are not uncommon.
Diagnosing Pleural Mesothelioma
The most valuable single test to show the extent of the disease is a computed chest tomograph (CT-scan). X-rays and biopsies are also effective means of verifying a correct diagnosis of pleural mesothelioma.
Early Detection of Pleural Mesothelioma is Key For Effective Treatment
Pleural mesothelioma, like all kinds of mesothelioma, can be difficult to diagnose or easily misdiagnosed. A patient should inform their physician to ensure mesothelioma symptoms are correctly identified. While a diagnosis of pleural mesothelioma is certainly serious, it is not without options. A variety of new treatments are available, as are a variety of experimental clinical trials.
Pleural Mesothelioma Prognosis
The median expectation for survival for a given pleural mesothelioma sufferer is about 17 months from the beginning of symptoms. About 10 percent of patients live for three years after diagnosis and five percent live at least five years.
Other Types of Mesothelioma Cancer and Asbestos-Related Disease
Peritoneal mesothelioma affects the peritoneum, the mesothelial tissue lining of the abdominal cavity. Peritoneal mesothelioma sufferers experience nausea, vomiting, swelling of their feet, fever and difficulty in moving their bowels. The prognosis is typically poorer than for pleural mesothelioma.
Pericardial mesothelioma, or mesothelioma of the pericardium (the heart's lining), is a very rare type of asbestos cancer. The tumor mass is usually detected at a late stage by echocardiography. The prognosis is very poor, with or without therapy.
The three types of mesothelioma cancer also break into three categories based on their cellular structure: epithetheliod mesothelioma, sarcomatoid mesothelioma and biphasic or mixed mesothelioma. Asbestos exposure also causes the chronic breathing disorder asbestosis.
Pleural Mesothelioma and Asbestos Exposure: Legal Recourse
The onset of pleural mesothelioma symptoms has been linked to asbestos exposure. A large number of mesothelioma patients have been exposed to asbestos at their workplaces. In many workplace asbestos exposure cases, employers can be held liable for physical, emotional and financial damages incurred by their employees. If you have been diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma, contact a skilled personal injury lawyer to evaluate your situation and determine if filing a personal injury lawsuit might be beneficial. You should also consult an experienced attorney if your loved one has died due to pleural mesothelioma or some other asbestos-related disease. A seasoned wrongful death lawyer can help you file a wrongful death lawsuit in order to hold those responsible for your suffering financially liable.