Surviving Mesothelioma and Other Cancers: A Patient’s Guide. Mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive form of cancer that affects the lining of the lungs, abdomen or heart. Like other cancers, it can be difficult to diagnose and treat. That’s why it’s important for patients and their families to have access to accurate cancer information about mesothelioma.
Symptoms of Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that begins in the tissue mesothelium that lines the lungs, heart, stomach, and other organs. The symptoms of mesothelioma can vary depending on where the cancer is located.
Symptoms of pleural mesothelioma (which affects the tissue that surrounds the lungs) may include chest pain, painful coughing, shortness of breath, unusual lumps of tissue under the skin on your chest and unexplained weight loss 1.
Symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma (which occurs in tissue in the abdomen) may include abdominal pain or swelling, feeling or being sick, loss of appetite and unexplained weight loss.
If you or someone you know is exhibiting symptoms of Mesothelioma, it’s important to seek medical attention immediately.
If a doctor suspects that a patient may have mesothelioma based on their symptoms, they will conduct a physical exam to check for any lumps or other unusual signs 1. The doctor may also order imaging scans such as chest X-rays or CT scans of the chest or abdomen to look for abnormalities.
To confirm a diagnosis of mesothelioma, a biopsy is usually performed. This involves removing a sample of fluid or tissue for analysis. By testing this tissue, doctors can confirm the diagnosis, stage, cell type and type of mesothelioma.
Endoscopic biopsy is commonly used to diagnose mesothelioma. An endoscope is a thin tube-like instrument with a light and lens (or tiny video camera) on the end that allows your provider to look inside your body. Tools can be used through the endoscope to take out tissue samples.
Mesothelioma is caused by exposure to asbestos, a mineral that was once widely used in construction and manufacturing. Symptoms can take decades to appear after exposure and may include chest pain, shortness of breath and fatigue.
Diagnosis typically involves imaging tests such as CT scans or biopsies. Treatment options may include:
- Radiation therapy
Surgery may involve removing as much cancerous tissue as possible through procedures such as pleurectomy (removal of the tissue that lines the lungs), peritonectomy (removal of the tissue which lines the abdominal region), debulking surgery (removing as much cancerous tissue as possible) or extrapleural pneumonectomy (removing a lung and the tissue surrounding it).
Chemotherapy involves using drugs to kill cancer cells. It can be given at different stages to help patients as required1.
Radiation therapy uses high energy beams to kill abnormal cells. Targeted therapy uses drugs that attack specific vulnerabilities in cancer cells. These drugs aren’t commonly used for treating mesothelioma but your doctor might recommend targeted therapy based on the results of tumor DNA testing.
The type of treatment you receive depends on where the cancer is found and at what stage. Your doctor will work with you to determine which treatment options are best for your individual case.
If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, it’s important to find a reputable law firm for mesothelioma cases. They can help you understand your legal rights and options for seeking compensation.
Coping with Mesothelioma
Living with mesothelioma can be challenging both emotionally and physically. Patients may experience symptoms such as pain or difficulty breathing that can impact their quality of life.
There are strategies for managing these symptoms such as:
- Complementary therapies like acupuncture or massage
It’s also important for patients to have a strong support network of family members, friends or caregivers who can help them cope with the challenges of living with mesothelioma.
Final Days with Mesothelioma
In the final days with mesothelioma, patients may experience increased pain or discomfort. Palliative care options such as hospice care can help manage these symptoms and provide comfort during this difficult time.
It’s also important for patients and their loved ones to have the opportunity to say goodbye and find closure. This may involve spending time together reminiscing about happy memories or expressing feelings of love and gratitude.
Mesothelioma is a challenging disease but there are resources available to help patients cope with its physical and emotional impact. By seeking out accurate cancer information about mesothelioma and finding a reputable law firm for mesothelioma cases, patients can take control of their health journey.