Malignant mesothelioma is rare, but deadly. This form of cancer occurs when malignant cells develop in the pleura, which is the thin layer that covers the lungs and lines the chest cavity. Malignant mesothelioma can also develop peritoneum, which lines the abdomen and covers the majority of organs in the abdomen.
Risk factors for developing malignant mesothelioma include:
The time period between asbestos exposure and the manifestation of symptoms is 20 to 50 years. Symptoms of malignant mesothelioma include difficulty breathing, lumps in the abdomen, pain under the rib cage, weight loss and pain or swelling in the abdomen.
Men are more likely to develop mesothelioma than women. Mesothelioma is diagnosed through a physical exam, chest x-ray, complete blood count, bronchoscopy, cytologic exam, sedimentation rate, or biopsy such as a laparotomy, thoracotomy, thoracoscopy, or fine needle aspiration biopsy.
Malignant mesothelioma is classified into three types including biphasic mesothelioma, sarcomatoid mesothelioma and epithelioid mesothelioma. These are further divided into subtypes under each classification. Many malignant mesothelioma patients will have more than one cell type.
Of all malignant mesothelioma patients, approximately 50% to 70% have malignant epithelioid mesothelioma. Epithelioid cells, the most common cell type, exhibit a uniform shape and tubular pattern along with a unique nucleus. Malignant epithelioid mesothelioma develops in the mesothelium, which protects certain organs including the gastrointestinal tract and lungs. Symptoms of epithelioid mesothelioma include respiratory difficulty, chest pain and fluid build-up. This form of mesothelioma is often mistaken for adenocarcinoma, so patients diagnosed with adenocarcinoma should get a second opinion.
Traditional malignant mesothelioma treatments include radiation, surgery and chemotherapy. In many instances, several methods will be combined. Treatment type will also depend on the stage of the cancer, stage I being the earliest and stage IV the most advanced.
A guide to understanding malignant mesothelioma cancer, its causes, treatments, and your legal options.
Our Massachusetts Mesothelioma Lawyers provide a list of common asbestos exposure worksites, shipyards, naval vessels, and more in and around Boston.