Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that develops from the thin layer of tissue that covers many of the internal organs (known as the mesothelium).
The most common area affected is the lining of the lungs and chest wall.
Signs and symptoms:
Less commonly the lining of the abdomen and rarely the sac surrounding the heart, or the sac surrounding the testis may be affected.
- shortness of breath due to fluid around the lung
- and weight loss.These symptoms typically come on slowly.
Symptoms or signs of mesothelioma may not appear until 20 to 50 years (or more) after exposure to asbestos. Shortness of breath, cough, and pain in the chest due to an accumulation of fluid in the pleural space (pleural effusion) are often symptoms of pleural mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma that affects the pleura can cause these signs and symptoms:
- Pleural effusion, or fluid surrounding the lung
- Wheezing, hoarseness, or a cough
- Blood in the sputum (fluid) coughed up (hemoptysis)
In severe cases, the person may have many tumour masses. The individual may develop a pneumothorax, or collapse of the lung. The disease may metastasize or spread to other parts of the body.
The most common symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma are abdominal swelling and pain due to ascites (a buildup of fluid in the abdominal cavity). Other features may include weight loss, fever, night sweats, poor appetite, vomiting, constipation, and umbilical hernia. If cancer has spread beyond the mesothelium to other parts of the body, symptoms may include pain, trouble swallowing, or swelling of the neck or face. These symptoms may be caused by mesothelioma or by other, less serious conditions.
Tumours that affect the abdominal cavity often do not cause symptoms until they are at a late stage. Symptoms include:
- Ascites, or an abnormal buildup of fluid in the abdomen
- Problems with bowel function
A mesothelioma does not usually spread to the bone, brain, or adrenal glands. Pleural tumours are usually found only on one side of the lungs.tumours are usually found only on one side of the lungs.
Pericardial mesothelioma is not well characterised, but observed cases have included cardiac symptoms, specifically constrictive pericarditis, heart failure, pulmonary embolism, and cardiac tamponade. They have also included nonspecific symptoms, including substernal chest pain, orthopnea (shortness of breath when lying flat), and cough. These symptoms are caused by the tumour encasing or infiltrating the heart.characterised, but observed cases have included cardiac symptoms, specifically constrictive pericarditis, heart failure, pulmonary embolism, and cardiac tamponade. They have also included nonspecific symptoms, including substernal chest pain, orthopnea (shortness of breath when lying flat), and cough. These symptoms are caused by the tumour encasing or infiltrating the heart.
End stage mesothelioma
In severe cases of the disease, the following signs and symptoms may be present:
- Blood clots in the veins, which may cause thrombophlebitis
- Disseminated intravascular coagulation, a disorder causing severe bleeding in many body organs
- Jaundice, or yellowing of the eyes and skin
- Pulmonary emboli, or blood clots in the arteries of the lungs
As a rare form of cancer, diagnosing mesothelioma can be a long, complex, and often frustrating process and the disease is often misdiagnosed. Doctors rely on the symptoms of the patient as well as various types of tests to diagnose mesothelioma.
The symptoms associated with mesothelioma can often look like conditions related to other diseases, which makes it very difficult to diagnose. Some common symptoms of mesothelioma include:
- Trouble breathing or chest pain
- Effusion (fluid buildup) in the lungs or abdomen
What are the treatments for mesothelioma?
- Anaemia (especially in women)
Treatment options for mesothelioma depend heavily on when doctors identify the disease. If doctors diagnose it during early stages, they can offer different options than if they find it during more advanced stages.
However, in general, there are three primary types of treatment:
Surgical options exist for the diagnosis, staging and treatment of mesothelioma. The diagnosis of mesothelioma involves the conduct of video-assisted surgery. Surgical staging includes the use of endobronchial ultrasound guided fine needle aspiration, mediastinoscopy and sometimes laparoscopy. Surgical treatment options have traditionally included radical extirpative surgery such as extrapleural pneumonectomy. However, in the past few years, lung sparing operations such as radical pleurcetomy and decortication have been combined with intraoperative adjuvants such as intrapleural heated chemotherapy and photodynamic therapy to decrease the morbidity of the treatment without sacrificing oncological outcome. The surgical team at AOI
has the expertise required to consider all these options and customize the appropriate surgery for the specific patient.
Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer. It can be used either before or after surgery in multiple fashions depending on the severity of the case. Doctors also often combine chemotherapy with radiation therapy, as doing so can increase the effectiveness of each approach. AOI’s
team of doctors and nurses is familiar with the world’s latest approaches to chemotherapy treatment for this type, and a wide range of other types, of cancer.
For esophageal cancer, doctors typically use radiation in conjunction with surgery and/or chemotherapy. Sometimes they offer it before surgery and sometimes after. It depends on the individual patient’s condition. Often in cases of advanced esophageal cancer, doctors use radiation to shrink tumors that grow large enough to block food from passing to your stomach. Our Radiation Therapy Department’s doctors and staff have world leading expertise in treatment planning and treatment delivery for mesothelioma, including access to TrueBeam, the world’s most powerful machine for treating cancer with radiation.
In an aggressive tumor like mesothelioma, the best possible outcomes can only be achieved by coordinated care between all three modes of therapy. The integrated clinics at AOI
enable the patient to be seen by the medical oncologist, the radiation oncologist and the surgeon, often on the same day. This enables the development of an integrated treatment plan and coordinated care.
Consult a doctor for medical advice
Note: The information you see describes what usually happens with a medical condition, but
doesn't apply to everyone. This information isn't medical advice, so make sure that you contact a health care provider if you have a medical problem. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or a emergency number immediately.