What is Mesothelioma?
The use of asbestos used in building construction materials, such as roofs, is very popular in Indonesia. But most people do not know that in making these materials using a mixture of asbestos that can endanger health.
Asbestos is known to cause various health problems, one of which is mesothelioma cancer. This is caused by exposure to fine dust or fibers which are very easily inhaled and enter the body’s organs, especially in the lungs.
Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer and is one of the aggressive types of cancer. As the name implies, mesothelioma is a cancer that forms in the lining of the mesothelium. The mesothelium layer or mesothel is a layer that lines various body organs, including the heart, lungs, and stomach. Therefore, mesothelioma is a cancer that can develop in the walls of the lungs, stomach, or heart.
Types of Mesothelioma based on symptoms and location on the body
As reviewed earlier, mesothelioma occurs in the mesothelium layer which can occur wherever the mesothel layer is located. There are 4 locations that generally occur mesothelioma, namely:
Pleural Mesothelioma (Lungs)
Pleural mesothelioma develops in the walls of the lungs (known as pleura) and is the most common form of mesothelioma. Pleural mesothelioma is quite difficult to diagnose. In the early stages of the disease, symptoms of mesothelioma tend to be mild, whereas in later stages (stage 3 or stage 4) symptoms can worsen significantly. Unfortunately, because of late detection, mesothelioma usually has a poor prognosis.
Peritoneal Mesothelioma (Abdomen)
Peritoneal mesothelioma originates from the stomach lining which often spreads to the abdominal organs, including the liver, spleen, and intestine. Severe abdominal pain is the most common symptom, followed by discomfort caused by fluid buildup (ascites).
Although the prognosis for peritoneal mesothelioma is poor, in the last few years the hope for a cure has increased slightly. Mostly because of new treatments such as hyperthermis intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC), although results vary from patient to patient.
Pericardial Mesothelioma (Heart)
Pericardial mesothelioma, which originates from the lining of the heart cavity (pericardium) is rare. Less than 1% of all mesothelioma cases count. When this rare cancer develops, the heart cannot work properly so that its function in sending oxygen throughout the body decreases and causes various other perfusion problems.
The most common symptoms of pericardial mesothelioma resemble heart attacks, including chest pain and shortness of breath. In many cases, pericardial mesothelioma is not diagnosed until an autopsy is performed.
Testicular mesothelioma is a very rare form of cancer, less than 100 cases have been diagnosed worldwide. This type of mesothelioma attacks the testicular protective layer. Because there are so few incidents of this type of mesothelioma, few understand about its development, and no standard treatment is available.
Causes of Mesothelioma
According to several studies, the main cause of mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos. But in addition to exposure to asbestos, smoking is also reported to be related to the occurrence of mesothelioma. Mesothelioma sufferers are usually experienced by those who have worked with or exposed to asbestos.
Although smoking does not have a direct causal relationship with mesothelioma, smoking is one of the significant factors that increases the likelihood of mesothelioma. Other secondary factors that can cause mesothelioma include radiation exposure, zeolites, simian virus 40 (SV40), and erionites.
Until now, there has been no effective treatment for the symptoms and conditions of mesothelioma, where this condition also has a very poor prognosis because the symptoms of mesothelioma may only appear in a long time, around 20-50 years.
Symptoms of Mesothelioma
Symptoms of mesothelioma that often arise include:
Cough and pain
Sweat fever, especially at night
Hard to breathe
Swelling at the tip of the finger
A lump on the lower surface of the chest
Lump in the abdominal area
Prevention of Mesothelioma
Because mesothelioma has poor hope of recovery, experts think more about how mesothelioma can be detected early, because the handling of mesothelioma in the early stages is better than the advanced stage.
In most cases, cancer specialists will diagnose mesothelioma by first testing to see if there are other diseases that cause symptoms. The doctor will ask about your history if you have a history of previous illnesses such as hypertension, tuberculosis or other diseases.
Diagnosis of Mesothelioma
In addition, the doctor will also find out the history of asbestos exposure that has ever been felt. From this, the doctor will usually carry out a series of tests, such as:
Imaging scans (CT scan, X-ray, MRI)
PET – to get a detailed picture of tissue suspected cancer cells
If this initial test shows the potential for mesothelioma, a biopsy will be performed. The biopsy procedure is done by taking samples of body tissue directly. Biopsy is the only test that can positively confirm the diagnosis of mesothelioma.
After a person has been diagnosed by a doctor having mesothelioma, the next step is to discuss mesothelioma treatment options and develop an appropriate treatment plan. The latest scientific research has produced significant breakthroughs related to treatment procedures for mesothelioma patients in order to support the improvement of quality of life.
A newly diagnosed mesothelioma patient may undergo several conventional treatment options through surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. Recently, chemotherapy drugs including Alimta and Cisplatin have shown quite promising results in some mesothelioma patients.
Surgery will be performed if mesothelioma is still at an early stage. Some choices of actions that are often recommended are:
Removal of cancer cells from the patient’s body
Suction due to the accumulation of fluid in the chest area that can interfere with breathing
Removal of tissue around the abdominal cavity, ribs, or lungs affected by cancer cells
Removal of the affected lung organ and surrounding tissue
The cure rate for mesothelioma sufferers will depend on the stage of the disease, cell type, and location. Other factors such as overall health conditions and age factors also have an influence on the survival of patients.