Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer which develops from the protective lining of the internal organs of the body and is almost always caused by exposure to asbestos. It is also believed that coming into close contact with a person’s clothing that has been exposed to asbestos can also cause mesothelioma.
The disease is not very common and has a very limited chance of recovery because most symptoms are observed only after 20-50 years of exposure to asbestos and at this time the disease is generally beyond recovery. Research is being conducted on the early detection of mesothelioma to allow doctors to detect signs of this disease at an early stage and thus prevent it from developing to higher levels.
Mostly the lungs or the heart are known targets for this disease and general symptoms like difficulty in breathing, shortness of breath, chest wall pain, cough and blood in cough are signs of the development of mesothelioma that affects pleura. Symptoms like abdominal, development of a mass in abdomen and weight loss are signs of mesothelioma that affects the abdominal cavity. Diagnosis of the disease includes the use of x-ray, CAT scan and MRI for the detection of pleural thickening and other abnormalities.
Lung function test may also be performed if deemed suitable to confirm the disease. The treatment of the disease is not particularly very successful due to the non-availability of methods and techniques which can ensure early detection of the disease. However, current methods of treatment include combination of conventional therapies of radiation treatment and chemotherapy.
In some cases, surgery might also be used to aid the radiation therapy and other treatments. However, surgery in itself has proved to be of little use in later stages of the disease. Even though the disease is rare, there are several victims of the disease and only a few of them have lived for some time with the disease.