Friday, October 19, 2007

Mesothelioma symptoms

In its early stages, mesothelioma does not have many symptoms. When symptoms do develop, they are often caused by the cancer growing and pressing on a nerve or other body organ.

The symptoms of the 2 main types of mesothelioma are different.

The symptoms of pleural mesothelioma are

* Pain in the lower back or the side of the chest
* A persistent cough
* Shortness of breath
* A hoarse or husky voice
* Losing more than 10% of your weight when not dieting
* Sweating and fevers
* Difficulty swallowing

The symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma are

* Pain in the abdomen (tummy)
* Swelling in the abdomen
* Feeling or being sick
* Poor appetite
* Losing more than 10% of your weight when not dieting
* Diarrhoea or constipation

These symptoms are all more likely to be caused by some other illness, rather than by mesothelioma. But if you have these symptoms, see your doctor. This is particularly important if you have been exposed to asbestos in the past.

What mesothelioma is

Mesothelioma is a type of cancer. It is a cancer of mesothelial cells. These cells cover the outer surface of most of our internal body organs, forming a lining that is sometimes called the mesothelium. So this is where this type of cancer gets its name.

Mesothelioma cancer can develop in the tissues covering the
  • Lungs
  • Abdomen

The pleura

The tissues lining (or covering) the lungs are called the pleura. There are two pleura. These can be called pleural membranes. The gap between them is called the pleural space. The pleura are fibrous sheets. They help to protect the lungs. They produce a lubricating fluid that fills the gap between the two pleura. This helps the lungs to move smoothly in the chest when they are inflating and deflating as we breathe.


Mesothelioma is most often diagnosed in the pleura. This is known as pleural mesothelioma. Because it is so close, pleural mesothelioma can also affect the sheet of tissue covering the heart - the pericardium. Doctors call the pericardium the lining, although it is on the outside of the heart. It protects the heart and allows it to move smoothly within the sac that surrounds it. So it does much the same job for the heart as the pleura do for the lungs.


The peritoneum

The tissue lining the abdomen is called the peritoneum. It helps to protect the contents of the abdomen. It also produces a lubricating fluid. This helps the organs to move smoothly inside the abdomen as we move around.

Mesothelioma of the tissues lining the abdominal cavity is known as peritoneal mesothelioma. It is much less common than pleural mesothelioma.

It is unusual for mesothelioma to spread to other parts of the body. But if it does, it does not usually cause troublesome symptoms.

Benign mesothelioma

There is a form of non cancerous (benign) mesothelioma that can develop in the lining of the lungs, or in the lining of the reproductive organs. It can occur in either men or women. These non cancerous tumours are very rare and we don't cover them in this section of CancerHelp UK.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Mesothelioma pathology

Majority of cases of Mesothelioma equates with Diffuse malignant mesothelioma.
- In the initial stage the disease is characterized by numerous small nodules or plaques covering visceral and parietal serosal surfaces.
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- At the later stage individual nodules fuse and form a diffuse, sheetlike thickening often encasing and compressing the lungs or the intestines and sometimes the liver and spleen.

- The final stage of the disease are marked by massive encasement of the viscera with matting of the affected structures, commonly causing complete obliteration of the pleural or peritoneal cavity. This may cause fatal functional disturbance.
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In some cases tumour extends through the chest or abdominal wall along a needle biopsy tract or a scar from a previous excision. This complication should be kept in mind when planning thoracoscopy or needle biopsy or when aspirating fluid for cytological examination or relief of symptoms.

Macroscopically the tumour varies greatly in appearance and may be firm and rubbery or soft and gelatinous. Cut surface is greyish-white and glistening in appearance. There may be foci of hemorrhage or necrosis.

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Figure 1: Lung encasement by MPM in a 30-year-old woman. Panel A Cut section of the right lung after extrapleural pneumonectomy shows that all lobes of the lung are completely encased by relatively uniform, nodular tumor growth along the parietal, visceral, and fissural pleural surfaces.

PLEURA: Parietal pleura is usually more extensively involved ;

Usually located in the inferior aspect of the cavity & diaphragm ;

Lung parenchyma may be involved in some cases ;

Distance metastases has been reported in about 50% cases.
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PERITONEUM: Variable growth pattern ; Indistinguishable from extensive carcinomatosis ;

Multiple coalescing grey-white nodule in greater omentum and visceral peritoneum ;

Tumour is firm or hard in consistency ; Cystic and mucoid areas may be present ;

Encasement of the intra-abdominal organs ;
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Intramucosal tumour may present as multiple intestinal polyps ; liver and spleen may contain tumour nodules ;

Other mesothelial lesions may be present: - Well differentiated papillary mesothelioma ; multicystic mesothelioma; deciduoid mesothelioma ; adenomatoid tumour.
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The larger tumor masses are in the inferior portion of the right hemithorax. Panel B Photograph (close-up view) of a resected lung (same lung as in Figure 16) shows the lung-tumor interface, extensive visceral pleural involvement, and invasion of the lung parenchyma.
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