Getting To Know The Causes Of Mesothelioma

Gone were the days when Methuselah enjoyed life for 969 years without even being stricken by a disease, that is so life-threatening. The big C, as we often call cancer, was never heard then. At this day and age, the ill-effects of our own unhealthy lifestyle plague us; of the environment, we thrive and varied toxic substances that we, knowingly or unknowingly take-in everyday. It becomes a bonus when we reach the age of 69, that is, by the way, 900 years behind Methuselah’s long life. Despite the age of scientific finds and technological advancement, it is an irony that life span is cut short by a staggering 93%.

One of the primary causes of death in the 21st century is Cancer. The most- dreaded disease has overwhelmed the world with a record high of 33,900 deaths each year in the United States alone. Cancer is always believed to carry the “death sentence” most of which, we all know causes prolonged pain, agonizing effects on family members and results to untimely and painful passing away.

Although the number of deaths caused by cancer in the United States has actually decreased for the very first time in a period of 70 years, (the early cancer records began in the 1930’s), the fact still prevails, Cancer is a dreadful disease, deadly and shattering. One of the rarest forms of cancer is Mesothelioma. As uncommon as its name suggests, this cancer starts its development from the methoselium, the protective lining of the body’s internal organs. The most common cause of Mesothelioma is the overexposure to asbestos. This just reinforces the fact that environmental factors are likely the distinguishing causes of cancer, basically from poor nutrition, too much sunlight, smoking, obesity, free radicals and air pollutants in the environment.

Four parts of the body to which Mesothelioma take place are the following: pleura, the lungs’ outer lining and internal chest wall; peritoneum, the abdominal cavity lining; pericardium, a sac that surrounds the heart and the tunica vaginalis, a sac that covers the testis.

People who suffer from Mesothelioma can trace back their life and exposure to asbestos and glass particles. Most often than not, these people are directly exposed with jobs using either asbestos or indirectly involved with them like washing clothes with a loved one exposed to asbestos or inhaling residue from a nearby asbestos company. Although Lung Cancer is largely related to Mesothelioma, smoking is not the main cause of this dismaying disease, but it still intensifies the plausible risk of it.

The main causes of Mesothelioma would greatly comprise weight loss, loss of appetite, chest pains and shortness of breath. Although rare, Mesothelioma, when detected early can be countered with chemotherapy, radiation therapy and sometimes, surgery.

All About Mesothelioma Risk

Mesothelioma is a type of cancer which is considered to be very rare. This type of cancer occurs in protective lining, which is responsible for covering internal organs of the body called Mesothelioma. There are basically 3 types of Mesothelioma:

  • Pleural Mesothelioma
  • Peritoneal Mesothelioma
  • Pericardial Mesothelioma

Pleural Mesothelioma

Among all different types of Mesothelioma, pleural Mesothelioma is the most common one. More than 70% people are suffering from this type. Pleural Mesothelioma attacks on the lungs.

Peritoneal Mesothelioma

This type of Mesothelioma cancer occurs in the peritoneum. It attacks towards the abdominal cavity. However, it is less common as compared to the pleural Mesothelioma.

Pericardial Mesothelioma

This type of Mesothelioma cancer occurs in pericardium and attacks at the heart. However, this type is least common.

The main recognized cause of this disease is Asbestos. It works in such a way so that the people who are exposing to the asbestos will develop the symptoms of Mesothelioma in upcoming future and not immediately. Many experts often suggest that the smokers are more vulnerable to Mesothelioma.

Symptoms of Mesothelioma:

Most of the patients of Mesothelioma do not notice any kind of symptoms in the earliest stages/months. Mesothelioma can only be detected by the regular medical checkups. Also many people confuse with the symptoms of Mesothelioma with the regular and common ailments. The symptoms of pleural Mesothelioma are:

  • Fever
  • Back pain
  • Chest pain
  • Muscle weakness
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Breath shortness
  • Decrement in sensory capabilities
  • Swallowing trouble in arm and face
  • Hoarseness
  • Coughing up blood
  • Continuous cough

The main symptoms of peritoneal Mesothelioma are:

  • Creation of fluid in abdominal cavity
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Weight loss

The main symptoms of pericardial Mesothelioma are:

  • Night sweats
  • Fever
  • Trouble in breathing
  • Chest pain
  • Irregularities heartbeats
  • Heart palpitations

Mesothelioma risk factors:

One of the most common risk factor of Mesothelioma is asbestos exposure. People who work in the place surrounding asbestos are more vulnerable towards Mesothelioma. Also the people who are exposed to the thorium dioxide are also vulnerable. Some experts also suggest that x-ray substances or also responsible for peritoneal and pleural Mesothelioma. People who are constantly in touch with Zeolite are also at a great risk. Zeolite is a mineral which is mostly found in Turkey’s Anatoli region. Some medical experts also believe that there is a connection between the simian virus 40 and Mesothelioma. However, cases are still debatable. Tobacco, which is said not to be a direct responsible for this disease but the combination of the people who consume it and people who works in surrounding of asbestos are 50% more vulnerable to Mesothelioma.

Though Mesothelioma cancer is a rare type of cancer, but it doesn’t mean that it is any less dangerous. As of now there is no proper cure for Mesothelioma and the problem with this disease is people are not able to find it in the early stages. This disease mostly takes the life of the people in just 2 years. The only key by which you can fight with this type of disease is to regularly go for doctors for diagnosis.

Chemotherapy Helps Mesothelioma Survival?

Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer in which malignant (cancerous) cells are found in the mesothelium, a protective sac that covers most of the body’s internal organs. Each year, more than 2,000 new cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed within the United States, many of which end up being terminal.

While there is no one-size-fits-all cure for mesothelioma, researchers and doctors have been working on different treatments to help make this rare form of cancer more manageable. Currently, treatment for mesothelioma generally depends on the location, stage, general health and age of the mesothelioma patient. From that point, patients may receive one or more of a combination of treatments that involve surgery, radiation and/or chemotherapy.

Does Chemotherapy Treatment Work?

Chemotherapy is considered a palliative treatment modality which means that it can help reduce the symptoms of mesothelioma and perhaps the size of the tumors, but it is not curative. Within the last decade, chemotherapy containing cisplatin-antifolate combinations has been shown to improve responses and prolong survival in mesothelioma patients. Based on the successes shown in clinical trials, a trio of research scientists in The Netherlands launched their own population-based study to “assess the impact of this development on clinical practice and survival at a population-based level.”

The study focused on 4,731 Dutch patients diagnosed with mesothelioma between 1995 and 2006. For the periods 1995-1998 and 2005-2006, the use of chemotherapy to treat mesothelioma jumped from 8% to 36%. At the same time, median survival for chemotherapy-treated patients increased from 10.1 months in earlier years to 13.1 months in more recent years. The researchers summarized their findings by stating that increased chemotherapy use at the national level did improve survival rates of mesothelioma patients, but they also cautioned that there may still be alternative explanations as to why this is the case.

Alimta and Cisplatin

Cisplatin is a platinum-based chemotherapy drug marketed as Platinol and used to treat a number of different cancers, including mesothelioma, some carcinomas such as small cell lung cancer and ovarian cancer, lymphomas and germ cell tumors. Inside cancer cells, cisplatin and other platinum-based drugs trigger cell death, killing the cancerous cells. In the United States, the platinum-based drug, cisplatin, is usually combined with another drug, Alimta, for treating mesothelioma. Alimta is an antifolate drug, which works by blocking the activity of folic acid inside cells interfering with cellular metabolism.

The FDA approved the Alimta plus cisplatin combination after a clinical trial demonstrated that the two drugs were more effective than one drug. In the July 2003 edition of the Journal of Clinical Oncology the published results reported a median survival time of 12.1 months for mesothelioma patients who received Alimta and cisplatin versus 9.3 months for the mesothelioma patients who just received cisplatin. The researchers also found that the addition of folic acid and vitamin B12 helped to reduce the toxicity of the drugs without adversely affecting survival time.

It is the hope that as research continues there will also continue to be better alternatives (and hopefully a cure) for those who suffer from mesothelioma.

Disclaimer: The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this article.