Mesothelioma is a form of malignant cancer that develops from internal lining (mesothelium) of various organs in the body and has a tendency to metastasis/ spread to other parts of the body. The organs primarily affected from mesothelioma are: linings around heart, lungs, testicles and abdomen.
The culprit behind development of mesothelioma is found to be a complex interplay between genetic predisposition, cellular mutations, lifestyle and occupational risk factors. The primary culprit has been found to be long term exposure to asbestos. The inhalation and swallowing of which has been found to trigger abnormal proliferation of cells in body leading to development of mesothelioma.
The Symptoms And Clinical Presentation Of Mesothelioma Depends Upon The Organ/ Organs Involved :
In case of involvement of the Pleura, which is the lining around lungs, the symptoms present as: dyspnoea/ shortness of breath, pain in breathing, pain in chest, palpable lumps in chest area, pain while coughing.
If it is the peritonium that is involved, abdominal symptoms appear as: pain and discomfort in abdomen along with lumps in the involved region.
Similarly, in involvement of pericardium, there is chest pain, heaviness and difficulty while breathing.
In each form of mesothelioma or any malignancy for that matter, there is fatigue, weakness and unexplained weight loss. If you experience any of the above symptoms for extended periods of time, it is time to see your health care practitioner as, the earlier mesothelioma is diagnosed, the easier is the treatment and consequently, better is the prognosis. The most commonly carrid out investigations to detect Mesothelioma include: Fine-needle aspiration, Thoracoscopy, Laparoscopy, Thoracotomy, Laparotomy etc. All these investigations allow the doctor to withdraw tissue/ cell samples to check the nature of overgrowth. The withdrawn samples are sent for biopsy and other histopathological investigations. Other investigations include: Chest X-ray, CT scans, MRI, PET etc. The treatment planning depends upon the type and stage of mesthelioma.
Below we have made an attempt to explain some treatment modalities used in treatment and elimination of mesothelioma. Your oncologist is the best judge to determine as to which line of treatment should be carried out first or the combinations of treatments that are best suited to an individual’s stage of mesothelioma.
Surgery is a popularly taken up route to cure the mesothelioma lump per se an in some cases even to reduce the symptoms arising from it. In the initial stages, removal of the lump often cures the disease, if, it is diagnosed and removed before it starts spreading to the surrounding tissues and carried in the blood stream. Once the spread or metastasis starts, it might not be possible to cure the cancer by surgery alone. In such the surgery focuses on only removing the bulk of the primary cancerous lump/ surrounding diseased tissue and the symptoms that arise from secondary complications like pleural effusion/ peritoneal effusion rounding tissues and other organs of the body via the lymph or blood.
To supplement the surgery, other treatment modalities like chemotherapy and radiation therapy need to be taken up. Chemotherapy makes use of drugs, chemicals to reduce the size and spread of cancerous mesothelioma.
On the other hand, Radiotherapy makes use of high energy radiation to destroy the malignant cells of mesiothelioma. Before starting with chemo and radiotherapy a person should be aware of the side effects of these treatments which include mucositis, destruction of hair follicles, sweat glands and effect on salivary glands. This might manifest as soreness of tongue and oral mucosa. Also, there is dry mouth, dry eyes, shedding of hair, nausea and vomiting. The patient might also develop anemia and weakness.
Along with conventional treatment, dietary modifications that involve eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, particularly, those rich in anti oxidants like: Tomatoes that contain lycopenes, multivitamin supplements, omega 3 fatty acids and lots of berries, green tea etc in your diet is found to supplement the treatment of mesothelioma by conventional techniques. Cutting down on smoking, alcohol, tea and coffee reduces toxin load on the body.
One may also try certain other treatment modalities like from Ayurveda, panchakarma, acupuncture, deep breathing exercises, pranayama, yoga, meditation to ease out the symptoms associated with mesothelioma.