Mesothelioma is an aggressive type of cancer which is caused by the ingestion or exposure to asbestosis
We are living in a world where people we know and those we don’t have had a fight with cancer.
Some have lived to share there triumph, and others have succumbed leaving a void of emptiness in many lives. Today, we are taking on perhaps one of the oldest cancers brought about by industrialization.
Mesothelioma (Accurately, malignant mesothelioma) is a cancer arising from cells of the mesothelium. The mesothelium is a protective lining covering most of the body’s internal organs. This cancer has been linked and proven to be as a result of exposure to asbestos, a mineral that was commercialized in the 20th century.
Mesothelioma is found to affect the pleura (outer protective lining of the lungs and the internal chest wall). Other sites include, peritoneum (the lining of the abdominal organs and cavity), the pericardium (the pouch of the heart), and the tunica vaginalis (a sac enshrouding the testacles).
Epidemiology studies shows that the incidence rates of mesothelioma varies from one country to another, from as low as 1 per million in Tunisia and Morocco, to as high as 30 per a million people in Britain, Australia and Belgium. Current statistics show the incidence of malignant mesothelium ranges from about 7 to 40 per million in industrialized nations. More so, the western countries.
Throughout the early, middle and late 20th century, lawsuits related to asbestos exposure have popped up faster than popcorn. The first lawsuit against asbestos manufacturers was brought in 1929. Though, it was settled by the conflicting parties halting further pursuits.
People working with mines, those in constant inhalation of asbestos fibre have been the most affected. Similarly , those that help clean their sweat-soaked clothings from a day’s hardwork, follow. DIY and maintainace workers have also been got victim.
It takes 20 to 50 years sometimes more for the signs and symptoms to show post-asbestos exposure.likewise most of the respiratory presentation arise from fluid filling up between lung and chest wall.
Symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma include;
1) weight loss and cachexia
2) abdominal swelling and pain due to ascites (fluid in the abdominal cavity).
Hence other symptoms are bowel obstruction, blood clotting abnormalities, anemia, and fever.
The aforementioned often if not always prompts a chest X-ray, MRI or CT-Scan which reveal a thickened pleura. For matter of confirmation, a thoracoscopy (tube with a camera) is inserted into the chest wall and a biopsy (living sample) is obtained for cytology (cell study).The advance of immunochemistry has made cytology virtually accurate.
After establishment of the disease, life expectancy is low. However, survivors have been recorded. Paul Kraus, diagnosed in 1997, is considered the longest living mesothelioma survivor in the world. In July 1982, Stephen Jay Gould, a well-regarded paleontologist, was diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma. Gould lived for another 20 years straight before dying of mesothelioma unrelated cancer.
Treatment docks at three avenues; surgery, radiation and chemotherapy like other cancers. Surgery has constantly given disappointing outcomes.
A pleurectomy/decortication the most widely done involve removal of chest lining. Another less popular surgery is extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP).
Radiation follows a radical surgery. This combination has evidently increased life expectancy of a few isolated cases.
Chemotherapy is by far the only treatment that has been proven beyond doubts to improve survival following a game changing study in 2003 by Vogelzang and colleagues, who compared cisplatin chemotherapy alone with a combination of cisplatin and pemetrexed chemotherapy in patients. Fascinating results were obtained, a significant improvement in median survival from 10 to 13.3 months was noted in the patients treated with cisplatin in combination with pemetrexed and with folate and vitamin B12 supplementation.
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