A Guide to Understanding Pleural Mesothelioma
Pleural mesothelioma is one of the most common forms of this aggressive type of cancer, which is caused by an exposure to asbestos. It develops in the mesothelial lining of the lungs, known as the pleura, and accounts for about 80% to 90% of all mesothelioma cases. Although this form of mesothelioma develops in the chest and lungs, it is not diagnosed or treated as lung cancer.
What Causes Pleural Mesothelioma?
Generally, exposure to asbestos causes mesothelioma. Most cases involve exposure to asbestos while at work, particularly miners, millers, transport workers, insulators, builders, plumbers, electricians, mechanics, and asbestos cement manufacturing workers. You can still develop mesothelioma even if you have not been directly exposed to asbestos. For example, if you washed clothes that have asbestos fibers on them, indirect exposure can lead to the development of this disease.
Mesothelioma takes years to develop after exposure, which is referred to as the latency period, ranging between 20 and 60 years.
Symptoms of Pleural Mesothelioma
Early symptoms of mesothelioma greatly resemble other conditions and diseases. If are aware of asbestos exposure, it is crucial to visit your physician. Some of the most common symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath: If you have pleural mesothelioma, might feel breathless, which might worsen with activity, or if you are lying down. In the early stages of mesothelioma, this symptom is caused by a build-up of fluid in the chest.
- Chest pain: You might experience chest pain that affects your breathing, or a dull pain in your shoulder or upper arm.
- Other general symptoms: Less common symptoms include loss of appetite and weight loss, persistent cough, change in coughing pattern, fatigue, fever, and heavy night sweats.
In addition to these symptoms, there are other conditions that might display other symptoms as well. This includes:
- Pleural plaque: This is a chalky substance that forms on the lungs as a result of calcification.
- Diffuse pleural thickening (DPT): Gray and fibrous tissue that fills the pleural spaces.
- Asbestosis: The scarring of lungs, also known as fibrosis.
How Is It Diagnosed?
To diagnose pleural mesothelioma, the first step involves performing one or more imaging scans, such as an X-ray, CT, PET, or MRI, in order to identify the presence of any potential tumors. If detected, blood tests will be ordered to look for biomarkers, which can indicate the possibility of mesothelioma. Ultimately, a biopsy will be required to verify a diagnosis. This can be done through a thoracoscopy, thoracotomy, thoracentesis, or mediastinoscopy.
It is not uncommon for pleural mesothelioma to be misdiagnosed. Some of these misdiagnoses include:
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
- Other chest cancers
Treatments for Pleural Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma is typically treated through a multimodal approach, which involves a combination of these three treatments and therapies:
- Radiation – Used to shrink the tumors in the body
- Chemotherapy – chemotherapy drugs are used to kill any remaining tumor cells
- Surgery – Cytoreduction therapy is used to remove as many cancer cells as possible
Extrapleural Pneumonectomy is one of the only surgeries associated with long-term survival. Those who are in better physical condition are ideal candidates for this procedure, which removes the affected pleura along with a portion of the lung and nearby lymph nodes. It is heavily invasive and, as such, only patients who meet the following criteria are eligible for this effective form of treatment:
- Stage 1 or 2 of the disease
- No history of coronary bypass surgery or pleurectomy
- Cardiac ejection fraction measurement of 45% or higher
- No cardiac dysfunction
- No liver, renal, or similar diseases
Given that pleural mesothelioma accounts for the majority of asbestos-related cancers, much research has been done to find more effective treatments for this type of mesothelioma. Some of the most promising emerging treatments include:
- Immunotherapy: The focus of this treatment is to boost the body’s immune system to fight off the cancer.
- Gene therapy: Seeks to fix the genetic problems that are the source of the cancerous cells.
- Photodynamic therapy: A photosensitizing agent and a light source are used to attempt to kill cancer cells.
Florida Mesothelioma Lawyers
The Ferraro Law Firm has been winning asbestos cases nationwide for over 30 years. If you or someone you love was injured due to the negligent actions of a company or individual, you have a right to pursue fair compensation. We are here to hold the powerful accountable and to stand up for the rights of the individuals they violated. Our team of Miami mesothelioma lawyers have recovered billions of dollars in verdicts and settlements on behalf of our clients and would be honored to do the same for you.
Contact us today at (888) 554-2030 for a free consultation.