Peritoneal Mesothelioma

This article on Peritoneal Mesotheliomagoes into clearer detail on what is involved, how ti is caused and options for treatment.
Peritoneal mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that is extremely difficult to diagnose and treat, and which in most cases, leads to death.

Peritoneal mesothelioma is a type of cancer that affects the lining of the abdomen. This lining is called the peritoneum and is responsible for covering and supporting the organs housed in the abdominal cavity, and also for secreting fluid that allows these organs to move against each other smoothly. Peritoneal mesothelioma attacks the cells in this lining causing them to over secrete fluid, which leads to abdominal swelling. The peritoneal mesothelioma tumor also kills the healthy cells in the abdominal cavity and encourages the growth of abnormal cells that can spread to other parts of the body.

The only known cause of peritoneal mesothelioma is a history of asbestos exposure. This type of cancer is caused by the settlement of microscopic asbestos particles in the abdominal lining. It is currently proven that materials containing asbestos can release fine particles, also called asbestos dust, when undergoing installation, repair, maintenance, or destruction. What is not completely understood is how this asbestos dust becomes lodges in the abdominal lining.

One theory is that the particles are inhaled and then transported through the blood stream or lymphatic system to the abdominal cavity. However, the most widely accepted theory is that the asbestos dust settles on the food items that are ingested by workers at lunch or carried home on the clothing of workers and allowed to settle in the kitchen where other meals are prepared. In this theory the asbestos fibers are ingested along with the food and allowed to settle in the stomach. Over a long period of time these fibers move from the stomach to the peritoneum where they cause chronic inflammation that eventually leads to the development of cancer.

After exposure to asbestos dust peritoneal mesothelioma can take up to 30 years to produce symptoms, but the period between diagnosis and death is shortest for this type of cancer. Peritoneal mesothelioma is just one type of cancer caused by asbestos, and it is extremely rare, comprising just one third of all mesothelioma cases (1, 2, 3).

In the early stages of the disease, where the fibers are moving into the peritoneum, there are no noticeable symptoms. However, once the inflammation begins the first noticeable symptom is usually abdominal pain. Since abdominal pain can be associated with a number of different viruses, infections, and stomach ailments many sufferers do not immediately seek medical attention for their symptoms.

As the disease progresses affected individuals will notice symptoms such as abdominal swelling (due to excess fluid retention), weight loss (even though the size or girth of the waist may be increasing), nausea, vomiting, breathing difficulties, loss of appetite, and weakness (3,5). In later stages symptoms such as bowel obstruction, fever, anemia, and new-onset hernia may present (5).

It is usually after the individual has dealt with a number of these symptoms for a peiod of months that they finally seek medical attention in the belief that they are suffering from a more usual type of digestive problem such as gallstones or hernia.

The diagnosis of peritoneal mesothelioma is difficult at best. After confirming a history of asbestos exposure the doctor will run numerous tests to confirm or deny the suspicion of peritoneal mesothelioma. The first of these test usually involve imaging of the suspected site. Traditional x-rays can be used to check the abdominal cavity for suspicious growths but MRIs and CT scans will offer a more detailed view.

After determining the location of the suspected mesothelioma most doctors will order a tissue biopsy to ultimately confirm the diagnosis of cancer. For the biopsy a small needle is inserted into the abdominal mass and a sample of the abnormal tissue is removed. This tissue is analyzed and a positive immunostain for calretinin confirms an accurate diagnosis of peritoneal mesothelioma (4).

With most other cases of mesothelioma a staging system is used after diagnosis to determine the progress of the disease and the most effective treatment options. However, there is currently not an established staging system available for use with peritoneal mesothelioma (6). Some doctors may choose to stage the disease under the guidelines of the TNM cancer staging system, but most physicians skip this process and move immediately to treatment.

With current medical options peritoneal mesothelioma treatment is often unsatisfactory. Surgical removal of the tumor has not been proven to prolong survival rates, radiation therapy used alone does not eradicate the tumor, and chemotherapy has proven ineffective in most patients (7,8).

The most promising options for treatment involve a multimodality approach. In this method radiation therapy is aimed at the tumor to reduce the size and kill the cancerous cells. This procedure results in pain relief and a decrease in abdominal swelling (9). Chemotherapy is then used via insertion directly into abdomen to further shrink the size of the tumor (5). Finally surgery is utilized to remove all, or almost all, of the visible tumor. In most cases surgery is then followed by postoperative chemotherapy (7).

If the cancer is diagnosed in the earliest stages the above treatment can be used to completely eradicate the tumor. However, the actual goal of any type of peritoneal mesothelioma treatment is not usually a total cure. Rather, since the tumor is most often diagnosed in its later stages, the main treatment goal is pain management, symptom relief, and an improvement in the quality of life of the patient.

In order to change the success rate of peritoneal mesothelioma treatment clinical trials and intensive research are currently focused on finding a cure for this deadly type of cancer and at increasing the time period between diagnosis and death.

With current medical science and technology the only way to increase the chance of cure lies in early detection. Individuals with a history of asbestos exposure are urged to schedule regular medical physicals and inform their doctors of the asbestos exposure and mesothelioma risk. With future discoveries lies a hope that the diagnosis technology will improve and early detection will be easier and more accurate.

‘Peritoneal Mesothelioma’ Resources:

  • Sridhar KS, et al.: New strategies are needed in diffuse malignant mesothelioma. Cancer 1992, 70:2969-2979.
  • Antman K, et al.: Malignant mesothelioma: prognostic variables in a registry of 180 patients, the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women’s Hospital experience over two decades, 1965-1985. J Clin Oncol 1988, 6:147-153.
  • Asensio JA: Primary malignant peritoneal mesothelioma: a report of seven cases and a review of the literature. Arch Surg 1990, 125:477-481.
  • Attanoos RL: Pathology of malignant mesothelioma. Histopathology 1997, 30:403-418.
  • Vidal-Jove J, et al.: A curative approach to abdominal mesothelioma: case report and review of the literature. Reg Cancer Treat 1991, 3:269-274.
  • Wagner JC: Diffuse pleural mesothelioma and asbestos exposure in the North Western Cape Province. Br J Ind Med 1960, 17:260-271.
  • Markman M: Intraperitoneal therapy in the management of peritoneal mesothelioma. J Infusional Chemother 1993, 3:50-52.
  • Zidar BL, et al.: Treatment of six cases of mesothelioma with doxorubicin and cisplatin. Cancer 1983, 52:1788-1791.
  • Biset D: The role of palliative radiotherapy in malignant mesothelioma. Clin Oncol 1991, 3:315-317.

More information can be found at http://www.asbestos.net/

Malignant Mesothelioma

An informative article on the condition called Malignant Mesothelioma. This article explains the condition in greater detail.

Malignant mesothelioma is also called mesothelioma by some folks. This cancer is a form that affects the mesothelium, which is a membrane made up of mesothelial cells. The importance of this condition is hightened as this membrane covers a lot of the organs inside of the body, such as the lungs and heart, and also lines the chest, the abdomen, and the area around the heart.

The mesothelium plays an important role in protecting internal organs. It creates a fluid that enables organs, such as the lungs, to move within the body. In different parts of the body, the mesothelium has different names. In the chest, it is called the pleura; in the abdomen is it called the peritoneum, and around the heart, it is called the pericardium. When malignant mesothelioma develops, it is typically in one of these three areas and is, accordingly, referred to as: pleural mesothelioma; peritoneal mesothelioma; or pericardial mesothelioma. The rarest form of malignant mesothelioma affects the tunica vaginalis, which is the tissue lining the testis in males. It is most common for mesotheliomas to start in the chest cavity. Seventy five percent of all mesotheliomas start here, with 10% to 20% starting in the abdomen (1).

The most common cause of malignant mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos, a term which describes six naturally occurring minerals. Exposure occurs when asbestos fibers are either inhaled or swallowed into the body. The fibers then become embedded in the chest or abdomen, acting as aggravating agents over the years. This method of exposure helps to explain how cancer eventually develops in the chest wall and abdominal area.

Malignant mesothelioma is typically diagnosed two to three months after an individual begins to feel symptoms. Symptoms include coughing up blood, muscle weakness, pain in the lower back, side or abdomen, weight loss, hoarseness, fatigue, and fluid in the chest or abdomen. Because many of these symptoms can be associated with common or minor ailments, they are often ignored until they become more severe (2).

A physician uses a combination of a medical history, physical exam, diagnostic imaging and fluid and tissue samples to make a diagnosis of malignant mesothelioma. Part of the diagnostic process involves determining the exact location and size of the primary tumor. A tumor is a growth of cells that form a mass within the body. Tumors can be either benign (meaning that they are not cancerous) or malignant (meaning that they are cancerous). Once mesothelioma is diagnosed, the next step is to determine its type.

The three most common types are listed here:

Epithelioid: 50% to 70% of malignant mesotheliomas are of this kind, which is considered to have the best prognosis;

Sarcomatoid: 7% to 20% are this type; and

Mixed/biphasic: 20% to 35% are of this type.

(As mentioned, there are also several types of benign mesotheliomas that can form. These include an adenomatoid tumor, which can grow in the reproductive organs of both males and females; and benign cystic mesothelioma, which can grow in the mesothelium of females, near reproductive organs. These benign tumors can typically be removed with surgery and do not lead to the growth of cancerous cells.)

In the case of malignant mesothelioma, the next step is for a physician to “stage” the

cancer, using one of three established staging systems: The Butchart System is based on the primary tumor’s size; the TNM System refers to the size of the primary tumor, whether or not the cancer has spread to nearby nodes (N) and whether it has metastasized distantly (M); and the Brigham System stages the cancer based on whether the tumor can be removed by surgery (resected) and whether or not lymph nodes are affected (3).

All of this information informs the type of treatment that will be pursued. A physician will work with a patient to determine the course of treatment that is best matched to his or her wishes. Factors such as age, weight and general health are also considered in determining treatment.

The most common types of treatment are surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and experimental therapies such as immunotherapy. Some individuals also choose to explore and pursue holistic therapies, which can include yoga and dietary and lifestyle changes. Before making a decision about what type of treatment to pursue, individuals are strongly encouraged to learn about all available options and to discuss their wishes with their family members, support systems and physicians.

Chemotherapy, radiation and surgery are the most commonly-used treatments. Chemotherapy uses drugs that kill cancer cells to treat mesothelioma. Chemotherapy drugs can also be used to increase the effects of either radiation or immunotherapy. It can also be used to destroy cancer that comes back or that has metastasized (spread) to other parts of the body. Radiation therapy attacks cancerous cells and keeps from dividing rapidly. It can also be used as a palliative treatment to reduce symptoms.

There are two main types of surgery: palliative surgery, which relieves pain and alleviates symptoms, such as fluid build up in the lungs and shortness of breath; and curative surgery, which is performed to slow or stop the growth of the disease and to extend a patient’s life. For example, the most radical and aggressive type of curative surgery for mesothelioma is called extrapleural pneumonectomy. This complex surgery is only performed when the mesothelioma is localized, and by experienced surgeons at larger medical centers. The procedure involves removing the affected lung, the pericardium, the diaphragm and the pleural lining of the chest wall. The pericardium and diaphragm are then reconstructed, using prosthetics, and placed back in the patient’s chest. After this surgery, chemotherapy and radiation are given to a patient, in what is called a multi-modal treatment plan (4). When successful, the procedure and subsequent treatments can extend a patient’s life by several years and improve his or her quality of life.

Typically, malignant mesothelioma is considered treatable not curable. Treatments may succeed in slowing the growth of the disease and reducing the pain and discomfort that one experiences; but treatment does not cure the disease.

‘Malignant Mesothelioma’ Resources:

  • American Cancer Society. “What Is Malignant Mesothelioma?” 19 October 2007.Accessed: 18 August 2007.
  • American Cancer Society. “How Is Malignant Mesothelioma Diagnosed?” 19 October 2006.Accessed: 18 August 2007.
  • Cancer Help, UK. “The Stages of Mesothelioma.” 13 April 2007.Accessed: 18 August 2007.
  • Treasure, T. et al. “ Radical Surgery for Mesothelioma.” British Medical Journal. 2004;328:237-238. 31 January 2007.Accessed: 18 August 2007.

More information can be found at http://www.asbestos.net/

Pericardial Mesothelioma

The following article on Pericardial mesothelioma will explain what this condition is, what causes Pericardial mesothelioma and the symptoms

Pericardial mesothelioma is a type of asbestos-related cancer that affects the lining that surrounds the heart muscle. Although this form of mesothelioma is sometimes referred to as lung cancer the cancer does not actually initially affect the lungs. Pericardial mesothelioma affects the pericardium, which is the medical term for the lining of the heart, and the serous membranes of the lungs.

Pericardial mesothelioma is caused by exposure to asbestos. Prolonged exposure to and inhalation of asbestos dust, which is created during the building, maintenance, and repair of items containing asbestos, is the only known cause of pericardial mesothelioma (5). However, it is not exactly understood how this asbestos dust, or the microscopic asbestos fibers that it carries, become trapped in the pericardium or membranes. One theory is that the asbestos fibers are broken down in the lungs and transferred through the bloodstream to the pericardium and serous membranes. With other types of mesothelioma the lymphatic system has been shown to aid in the transfer of asbestos fibers from one part of the body to another. This route could also explain the spread of fibers that cause pericardial mesothelioma (5).

Since the spread of fibers is more difficult to this area of the body pericardial mesothelioma is a very rare form of the disease. In fact, this type of asbestos cancer only accounts for 6% of all mesotheliomas (1).

Exposure to asbestos and asbestos dust does not immediately lead to mesothelioma. In fact, symptoms of the disease can take up to thirty years to first appear. That is why it is so important to understand the symptoms of pericardial mesothelioma if you have ever had any exposure to asbestos dust. A clear understanding of the symptoms and a knowledge of what to look for as early signs of the disease can increase the chances of early diagnosis and increase the probability of success treatment.

The symptoms of pericardial mesothelioma are similar to the symptoms seen with pleural mesothelioma and include shortness of breath, chest pain, persistent cough, heart palpitations, and extreme fatigue after light exertion or activity (2). Although it is best to recognize and document these symptoms early in the progression of pericardial mesothelioma, most of the symptoms do not occur until the disease has progressed into the later stages.

The symptoms of pericardial mesothelioma are not actually a direct consequence of the disease itself. Instead, symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain, and heart palpitations, are caused by the accumulation of fluid around the heart. The fluid is not a symptom of pericardial mesothelioma. Instead it is a by-product of the ever expanding cancerous tumor (1). As the pericardial mesothelioma grows in the lining of the heart it causes an expansion of the surrounding tissue. This expansion leads to a build up of excess fluid that puts pressure on the heart and surrounding organs like the lungs. This pressure is actually the cause of chest pain and shortness of breath. The swollen tissue also reduces the space allowed for inhaled air, thus reducing the oxygen available to the body. This reduced oxygen supply can cause extreme and early fatigue.

If anyone with a history of asbestos exposure begins suffering from the symptoms of pericardial mesothelioma it is imperative that they seek medical attention right away. A prompt and proper diagnosis is the first step in mesothelioma treatment. Once a diagnosis is made treatment options, such as surgery, can increase the individual’s long-term survival rate.

In order for a doctor to make an accurate diagnosis of pericardial mesothelioma many steps must be taken and numerous tests must be performed. Most medical professionals begin the diagnosis process with a full medical history. This history will include detailed questions about asbestos exposure, such as dates of exposure, circumstances of exposure, and the duration of asbestos exposure. The next step in pericardial mesothelioma testing is usually medical imaging. Most doctors begin with a traditional x-ray in order to obtain a general understanding of the health of the heart. From there doctors seek more detail with CT scans and MRIs. A biopsy, a procedure where a small needle is inserted into the affected tissue in order to withdraw a sample of the suspected mesothelioma, can be used to further confirm or deny the existence of mesothelioma in the lining of the heart (6).

Currently these tests are the only reliable methods available for detecting and diagnosing pericardial mesothelioma, or mesotheliomas of any kind. Current research, however, is focused on developing more accurate methods of testing. These diagnostic aids are meant to increase the chances of early detection and help prolong the lives of those diagnosed with pericardial mesothelioma (3).

Once an accurate diagnosis of pericardial mesothelomia has been made proper treatment can be started. However, it is important to understand that a cure for mesothelioma does not currently exist and that most treatment forms are focused instead on making the patient comfortable during the progression of the disease and at prolonging the life of the affected individual (6).

Treatment options for pericardial mesothelioma include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and medication therapy. Surgery is usually not recommended for pericardial mesothelioma treatment unless the disease is caught in its very early stages when the procedure would be most effective. Radiation therapy, a procedure that employs high-energy radiation either in the form of an x-ray or radiation-emitting materials that are inserted into the affect area of the body, is used to kill the cancerous cells and shrink the size of the pericardial mesothelioma tumor. This type of therapy treatment has proven to be the most successful with this type of mesothelioma cancer and is usually one of the first treatments performed.

Chemotherapy, a procedure where drugs and chemicals are injected into the veins, is also used to target and kill cancer cells. This type of treatment is the second most common form used to treat pericardial mesothelioma but it also carries a high risk for unwanted side effects.

Another type of pericardial mesothelioma treatment involves the removal of fluids from the chest and abdominal areas. These procedures, thoracentesis and paracentesis, do not actually treat or cure the mesothelioma, instead they focus on relieving the pressure caused by fluid build up and relieving the pain and symptoms associated with this build up.

Current pericardial mesothelioma research is dedicated to finding new ways to treat and cure this form of cancer. IMRT (Instensity Modulated Radiation Therapy), PDT (Photodynamic Therpay), gene therapy, biological therapy, and new drugs such as Veglin and Alimta are showing promising results and are offering new hope for people diagnosed with pericardial mesothelioma (4).

Pericardial mesothelioma is a rare and deadly disease that is directly linked with asbestos exposure. The biggest chance of survival lies in early detection so everyone who has been exposed to asbestos dust is encouraged to seek regular medial check-ups and legal advice.

‘Pericardial Mesothelioma’ Resources:

Warren WH: The clinical manifestations and diagnosis of mesothelioma. In Mesothelioma: Diagnosis and Management. Edited by Kittle CF. Chicago: Year Book; 1987: 31.

Pass HI: Emerging translational therapies for mesothelioma. Chest 1999, 116:455S-460S. Quinn DW: Pericardial mesothelioma: the diagnostic dilemma of misleading images. Ann Thorac Surg 2000, 69:1926-1927.

Watanabe A, et al.: Primary pericardial mesothelioma presenting as constrictive pericarditis: a case report. Jpn Circ J 2000, 64:385-388.

Dodson RF, et al.: Analysis of asbestos fiber burden in lung tissue from mesothelioma patients. Ultrastruct Pathol 1997, 21:321-336. Kralstein J: Malignant pericardial diseases: diagnosis and treatment. Am Heart J 1987, 113:785-790.

Testing for Mesothelioma

At the time of writing, there is no screening programme for mesothelioma in the UK. Before screening for any type of cancer can be carried out, doctors must have an accurate test to use. The test must be reliable in picking up cancers that are there. And it must not give a positive result in people who do not have cancer.

If screening were to be introduced for mesothelioma, the test would have to be simple, quick and not too expensive. Diagnosing mesothelioma can be difficult. The usual tests for lung diseases often appear to be negative with mesothelioma.

As only about 2,000 cases are diagnosed each year, it is not sensible to screen everyone in the country for such a rare disease.

It would be more cost effective to screen people who are thought to be at a higher risk of mesothelioma. But to do that, we have to be able to identify all those who are at higher risk.

Symptoms of Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma does not have many symptoms in the earlier stages. The symptoms can caused by the cancer growing and pressing on a nerve or other body organ when they do develop.

The symptoms of the 2 main types of mesothelioma are different.

The symptoms of pleural mesothelioma are

• Pain in the lower back or the side of the chest

• A persistent cough

• Shortness of breath

• A hoarse or husky voice

• Losing more than 10% of your weight when not dieting

• Sweating and fevers

• Difficulty swallowing

The symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma are

• Pain in the abdomen (tummy)

• Swelling in the abdomen

• Feeling or being sick

• Poor appetite

• Losing more than 10% of your weight when not dieting

• Diarrhoea or constipation

These symptoms are all more likely to be caused by some other illness, rather than by mesothelioma. But if you have these symptoms, see your doctor. This is particularly important if you have been exposed to asbestos in the past.

Mesothelioma risks and causes

Mesothelioma is a rare cancer but it is insreasingly becoming more common. Over 2,000 people are told that they have mesothelioma every year in the United Kingdom. Men are 4 times more likely to be diagnosed than women as it is thought that many cases have been caused by exposure to asbestos at work. Pleural mesothelioma is more common than peritoneal mesothelioma.

It’s unknown as to what causes the majority of cases of mesothelioma but it’s most often linked to exposure to asbestos. A link has been identified since the beginning of the 18th century between asbestos and lung disease. But the link with mesothelioma has only been known since the 1960’s. The number of cases of mesothelioma is expected to increase over the next two decades due to the heavy use of asbestos in industry in the years following the second world war.

70% - 80% of people diagnosed with mesothelioma say they have been in contact with asbestos, which means that your risk is greater if you were exposed to large amounts asbestos from an early age and/or very long period of time. This is not always the case as there are some people that say they have no history of any heavy exposure to asbestos.

Asbestos is an insulating material that is heat and fire resistant. In the past, asbestos was used widely in the building industry, ship building industry, manufacture of household appliances and the motor industry
A large number of mesothelioma cases occur in men who have worked in manufacturing using asbestos or used asbestos products, particularly in construction or engineering. The use of asbestos was very heavy in the years after 1945. The symptoms of Mesothelioma may not be detected until 15 - 40 years after your exposure to asbestos and the number of cases is expected to peak around 2018 and then start to decline.

Out of the three types of asbestos (blue, brown and white), blue and brown asbestos are the ones linked with mesothelioma and have been banned since the late 1980’s in the UK and the use of all asbestos was banned in 1999 in the UK.

You can breathe asbestos fibres in when you come into contact with asbestos because asbestos is made up of tiny fibres. The fibres work their way into the pleura, lining the lung and irritate the pleura and damage the cells that the pleura are made of. Some of the fibres that have been breathed in can be coughed up and swallowed. This is probably the cause of peritoneal mesothelioma.

Epithelial Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is a deadly and rare cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. Asbestos is a highly dangerous and cancer causing substance that was once used regularly within many industries and used inside homes and buildings. The dust from asbestos is inhaled and causes irreversible damage to the lungs. The most common industries in which asbestos was used include construction, insulation, paper mills, ship building, railroads, auto parts and ceramics (2).

There are three main types of mesothelioma, which are epithelial, sarcomatous (also called fibrous), and biphasic/mixed (2) (6). Epithelial is the most common type of this disease and is found in 50-70% of cases. Epithelial mesothelioma is a cancer of the epithelial tissue, which are the membranes that line your internal organs. Epithelial mesothelioma has a better prognosis than the other types (3), although it is still a very deadly form of cancer.

The median length of life of a patient with mesothelioma is only eleven months (1). This is due to the fact that often the disease is not diagnosed and treated until it is in much later stages because the early symptoms are often very vague and include shortness of breath and chest pain (1). It is very important to consult your doctor right away with any symptoms regardless of how mild, especially if you know you have been exposed to asbestos. If caught early, there is a much better prognosis.

Mesothelioma survival rates are improving with newer and more aggressive treatments. They are also much better if the disease is caught in the earliest stages in which aggressive treatment is the most effective. There is a 50% survival rate after five years if the cancer is caught in stage 1 and aggressive treatment can be started promptly (4). Aggressive treatment is very effective in less advanced stages and used to try to cure the cancer and stop the spread to other parts of the body (1).

The type of mesothelioma is determined with medical tests such as cytology and needles biopsies. However, often epithelial mesothelioma may be difficult to diagnose accurately as it can also look very much like anaplastic lung cancer or other metastatic cancers (5). Sometimes further diagnostic tools will need to be used for an accurate diagnosis.

Epithelial mesothelioma, as well as the other types, can develop in different areas of the body. It can be found in the pleural tissues of the lungs, the abdomen or the pericardium. The most common place for it to form is in the pleural tissues of the lungs, which account for 60% of cases (3), with peritoneal (abdominal) involvement also being very common. Pericardial mesothelioma occurs when the cancer develops on the membrane, or epithelial tissue, surrounding the heart and is actually quite rare (1).

Common symptoms of pleural mesothelioma include shortness of breath, chest discomfort, chest pain and other pneumonia-like symptoms. Many times there may be no symptoms at all until in more advanced stages of cancer (3). Peritoneal, or abdominal, mesothelioma can also cause shortness of breath as well as weight loss, bowel problems, anemia, foot swelling and swelling of the abdomen.

Treatment for epithelial mesothelioma is much the same as the other types of mesothelioma and can include surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. Treatment and surgery performed often depend more on the stage of cancer and the area it is located in the body than the type of mesothelioma. Chemotherapy has not been proven to be very effective in epithelial cancer (2) and is not used alone, although it may still be used along with other forms of treatment.

Chemotherapy and radiation are used to kill cancer cells and therefore reduce the size of the tumor. However, these treatments will also kill and damage healthy cells as well, which results in the many symptoms associated with these types of treatments. You’ll need to understand all the risks and side effects before going under treatment and be prepared with what to expect.

There are several surgery options available to those with epithelial mesothelioma, depending on the stage of cancer, area of the body affected, and your particular circumstances overall. Your doctor will go over the options available to you as well as all benefits and risks of each. You should also be sure to ask your doctor plenty of questions and make sure you have a thorough understanding of your situation to be able to make informed decisions regarding your care.

Surgery for epithelial mesothelioma can be used for many different medical reasons. Treatment, including surgery, may be used to try to cure or to increase longevity and the chances of survival. Sometimes surgery is used to reduce a patient’s symptoms and make them more comfortable. This is known as palliative surgery (1) and is often an option for patients whose cancer is more advanced.

Receiving a diagnosis of epithelial mesothelioma is a scary and shocking experience. Many patients receiving such a diagnosis go through a range of intense emotions that closely resemble the grieving process, including denial and anger. This is a normal human response, although do not let this get in the way of taking charge of your situation and receiving prompt treatment. Your actions and involvement can make a difference in quality of life and eventual outcome.

‘Epithelial Mesothelioma’ Resources:

Mesothelioma Cancer Treatment Center. “Epithelial mesothelioma Cancer.” Epithelial mesothelioma: Early Detection and Treatment. Date undocumented.

Accessed: 24 July 2007. WebMD. “Mesothelioma.” Emedicine from WebMD. 9 February 2007.

Accessed: 24 July 2007. Asbestos News. “Epithelial Malignant Mesothelioma.” Asbestos News: Devoted Information About mesothelioma and Asbestos Exposure. 2006.

Accessed: 24 July 2007. Einstein Law, Inc. “Pleural and Peritoneal Mesothelioma Treatment-Surgery.” mesothelioma FYI. 2004.

Accessed:24 July 2007. National Cancer Institute. “Cellular Classification.” Mesothelioma: Treatment-Health Professional Information (NCI PDQ). PeaceHealth: Dedicated to Exceptional Medicine and Compassionate Care. 1993-2000.

Accessed:24 July 2007. Cancer Research UK. “Types of Mesothelioma.” About mesothelioma. 2002.

Accessed: 24 July 2007.

More information can be found at http://www.asbestos.net/