Mesothelioma: The Basics
Mesothelioma is caused by mesothelial cells growing out of control. The mesothelium is a protective sac. It covers organs inside the body such as:
- stomach organs
- male sex glands
When these cells grow out of control, they can no longer stop making lubricating fluid. This turns into extra fluid and tumor.
Mesothelioma that has spread to some other part of the body from its first site is called metastatic cancer.
The biggest risk is having been around asbestos. Mesothelioma may not be found until many years after you were near asbestos. Other risks:
- Radiation to the chest
- Care for TB (collapsotherapy)
- Some viruses or certain minerals (erionite)
There are no standard tests.
Signs of Mesothelioma
The first signs of mesothelioma of the lungs are pain and it being hard to breathe. Other signs:
- Weight loss
- Dry, hacking cough
Signs of mesothelioma of the belly:
- Belly swelling
- Weight loss
Diagnosis of Mesothelioma
If you start to have signs of mesothelioma, tests will be ordered:
- CT scan
- A test to check the fluid around your lungs. This is called a thoracentesis.
- A test where you take a small group of cells to check for cancer. Also called a biopsy.
To make a treatment plan, mesothelioma of the lungs is "staged." The stage is based on:
- Size and where the tumor is
- If cancer is found in the lymph nodes
- If cancer is found in other parts of the body
Stages range from stage 0 to stage IV. There is no standard staging for other types of mesothelioma.
Treatment depends on the stage, where it is, and the person’s health. Choices:
- Surgery to remove tumor and the organ with cancer
This is a basic article about mesothelioma. You can learn more about mesothelioma by using the links below.