Mesothelioma is a malignant and rare form of cancer that develops on the protective lining (mesothelium) of many of the internal organs. Most common form of mesothelioma is pleural mesothelioma – a malignant cancer of the pleura, the outer lining of the lungs and internal chest wall. Mesothelioma is actually a secondary cancer of the lungs, meaning that it develops as an effect of cell damage that predisposes a patient to cancer. In the case of mesothelioma, cancer develops as a result of asbestos exposure. Asbestos fibers lodge inside of the lungs, causing irritation and inflammation that gradually leads to scarring, changes in the cells and eventually to the malignant tumor.
Causes of mesothelioma lung cancer
As already mentioned, mesothelioma is caused by asbestos exposure. Asbestos is found in many old buildings, since it had been used for various construction materials to improve their properties and make them more durable and more resistant. When the materials containing asbestos are disturbed (usually during the reconstruction of an old house or demolishing of the walls), asbestos fibers are spread into air. These fibers are invisible and humans easily inhale them. When someone inhales asbestos, the fibers lodge inside of the lungs causing gradual destruction of the cells.
Signs and symptoms of mesothelioma lung cancer
In most cases, first signs of the disease are visible 35 to 40 years after the initial exposure to the asbestos. This disease gradually develops and first signs are usually ignored by the patient, or even contributed to another, benign disease. In most cases, symptoms of the mesothelioma lung cancer involve shortness of the breath, pain in the chest and even pain in the lower back. As disease progresses, patient may experience difficulty breathing and swallowing, chronic cough, recurrent fever, fatigue and even weight loss. In more severe stages, patient will probably start coughing up blood, may suffer from facial and arm swelling and hoarseness.
Prognosis for mesothelioma lung cancer
Mesothelioma lung cancer usually has very poor prognosis. There are many factors that may affect the exact cause of the disease. People at the age of the 65 years have a median life expectancy of 359 days, following the diagnosis. People between the ages of 65 and 74 have a median survival period of 242 days, while older patients usually live about 112 days after the initial diagnosis. The stage of the disease is also important to establish the most accurate prognosis. If a disease is in the stage in which mesothelioma has invaded a single or multiple regions (such as the lining of the lungs or chest wall) the prognosis is very poor.