The pleura is a thin, delicate membrane that lines the lungs and chest cavity. When a person breathes in asbestos fibers, it can lead to mesothelioma. Between 2,000 and 3,000 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma every year. Approximately 75 percent of these cases are pleural mesothelioma. Pleural mesothelioma, like all other forms of mesothelioma, has a long latency period. This means that it could be decades before someone exposed to asbestos fibers will contract pleural mesothelioma. If you or someone you love has contracted mesothelioma, it is the result of some company’s willful disregard of health and safety standards.
Pleural Mesothelioma Symptoms
One of the most common symptoms of pleural mesothelioma includes pleural effusion, which is an accumulation of fluid in the pleura. Pleural effusion is often accompanied by shortness of breath, chest pain under the rib cage, coughing and weight loss. As the mesothelioma spreads, the tumor puts pressure on the lungs and other organs. This can lead to extreme pain, difficulty breathing and swallowing, and other complications.
Pleural Mesothelioma Diagnosis and Treatments
Pleural mesothelioma is one of the most aggressive forms of cancer. Unfortunately, for many people with the disease, life expectancy is measured in months and not years. With this said, approximately 10 percent of people diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma live longer than three years after diagnosis. Like most cancers, pleural mesothelioma is measured in stages.
- Stage I pleural mesothelioma is limited to the lining of the chest. In most cases, pleural mesothelioma is unilateral, or limited to one side of the chest.
- Stage II mesothelioma has advanced beyond the lining of the chest to the diaphragm or to a lung.
- Stage III mesothelioma has advanced beyond the diaphragm or lung, and has infiltrated other parts of the chest and possibly the lymph nodes.
- Stage IV mesothelioma has spread more extensively within the chest and potentially to other parts of the body.
The treatments for mesothelioma vary depending on the stage of the cancer. Although pleural mesothelioma is rarely diagnosed at Stage I, surgery can alleviate the symptoms. In Stage II or Stage III, chemotherapy or radiation treatments can treat the disease. Surgery may also be an option. In Stage IV, the primary course of treatment is to manage the patient’s pain.