Pleural Mesothelioma

Pleural mesothelioma, which is the most common trait of asbestos-triggered cancer, grows on the lining of the lungs. The symptoms of the cancer commonly appear in the late stages of the disease. In fact, pleural mesothelioma is quite rare and known as a malignant cancer which is caused by asbestos. The initial symptoms of pleural mesothelioma typically cover chest pain and the shortness of breath. You also may experience no symptoms at all during the first few stages of pleural mesothelioma progression.

The life expectancy of patient with pleural mesothelioma is quite short, which is less than 18 months, yet some patients also can live longer than that period. Combining a number of treatments, such as chemotherapy, surgery, and the radiation therapy, can help people to live longer with pleural mesothelioma. It usually takes twenty to fifty years for mesothelioma to develop after the first exposure to asbestos. This particular lag time, which is called latency period, explains why the disease commonly affects elderly people.

Who is at risk of pleural mesothelioma?

Almost eighty percent of people that are diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma are male who are older than 75 years of age. Historically speaking, the exposure to asbestos most commonly took place at industrial jobs here most men comprised the majority of workforce.

The symptoms of pleural mesothelioma comprise of the shortness of breath, pleura or chest pain, persistent raspy or dry cough, difficulty swallowing and coughing up blood. There in four of patients with pleural mesothelioma experience shortness of breath, and more than half report pleural pain.

Pleural Mesothelioma Symptoms

As the case in other mesothelioma cancers, pleural mesothelioma can cause excess fluid to pile up between the two layers of pleura, which is called pleural effusion. This condition is present in almost 90% of pleural mesothelioma cases. Though a little fluid is essential, too much fluid will cause difficulty in breathing. The extra fluid may put extra pressure on the lungs, which causes chest pain which gets worse as you cough or take some deep breaths. There are some other symptoms that are related to pleural mesothelioma.


  • Lumps under the skin on the chest
  • Coughing up blood (hemoptysis)
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Shortness of breath (dyspnea)
  • Pain in the lower back or rib area
  • Fatigue
  • Persistent dry or raspy cough
  • Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia)
  • Night sweats or fever
  • Painful breathing


Two layers make up lung pleural. The outer layer, which is called the parietal pleural membrane, lines the whole inside of the chest cavity. The inner layer, which is also known as the visceral membrane, covers our lungs. A pleural mass may develop on any of these layers and may rapidly spread to the other layer. As the tumors grow or metastasis on the pleural surface, they will grow to form a sort of sheath mass right around the lung.

How Pleural Mesothelioma is Diagnosed

Pleural mesothelioma is oftentimes hard to diagnose. Since many disease of the respiratory systems appear like the symptoms of pleural mesothelioma, doctors are likely to mistake it for pneumonia or flu without further extensive exam.

The diagnostic process begins when doctor, oftentimes primary care physician, evaluates the initial symptoms that occur. Cheat pain as well as breathing impairment does warrant a chest X-ray, which is typically the first examination so as to show tumors or fluid.

Diagnostic Imaging

After one particular review of occupational and medical history as well as physical examination, patients commonly will be required to undergo imaging tests which are used to diagnose pleural mesothelioma, includingCT scans,Chest X­raysand PET scans. X-rays are helpful I revealing pleural effusions and pleural tumors in certain cases. CT scans, especially the more advanced CT scan images, can often show the evidence of asbestos exposure. PET scans are useful in detecting the signs of cancerous spread to lymph nodes.

It appears challenging for doctors to tell the difference between certain cases of pleural mesothelioma and cancer related to cancer. While doctors presumably will suspect mesothelioma based on patient’s symptoms, the history of exposure to asbestos, and abnormal imaging scan outcome, these particular signs are not enough to confirm the diagnosis of pleural mesothelioma.

With the advent of PET scan in the early 60s, doctors can better differentiate between cancerous and noncancerous growths on the pleura. While imaging does play important role in staging malignant pleural mesothelioma and guiding the required treatment, it cannot be used to diagnose the cancer itself.

How Pleural Mesothelioma is Staged

A number of different staging approaches are available for malignant pleural mesothelioma. All of them define 4 stages of progressive development. The first two stage stipulate localized tumors. The last couple of stages classify the tumors that spread. IMIG, the International Mesothelioma Interest Group, has created the most widely used staging system for dealing with pleural mesothelioma. It is applicable to tumor- node-metastasis, or TNM, approach that is used to stage some other cancers.

Two other systems of staging are used less often, which includes the Brigham and Women’s staging approach and also the Butchart staging approach. Dr. David Sugarbaker, who is pleural mesohtleima specialist, created the Brigham and Women’s staging approach. The other one, Butchart, created by Eric Butchart in 1976, is actually the first staging system created.

Treatment Options for Pleural Mesothelioma

Doctors have historically treated pleural mesothelioma with traditional cancer treatments such as radiation therapy, surgery, and chemotherapy. Most plans of treatment combine these three, which is termed multimodal therapy. These therapies, depending on how far the cancer has metastasized, can be either palliative or cytoreductive.

The Prognosis of Pleural Mesothelioma

Throughout the diagnosis process, doctors will analyze the expected course and the outcome for the disease, which is known as the prognosis. Providing an accurate prognosis poses a challenge to doctors since the disease is quite complex, and each patient will respond differently to treatment. The most essential factor in the prognosis of pleural mesothelioma is the stage of the disease at diagnosis. Patients with the most common subtype of cell, which is called epithelial, may live an average 200 days even longer than those with the least common subtype.

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