Is an asbestos-related cancer that attacks the two linings which surround the lungs and the chest cavity. These linings are known as the pleura, which cushions and protects the lungs while you breathe in and out. Pleural Mesothelioma is the most common type of mesothelioma as it accounts for 3 out of 4 (75%) of all mesothelioma diagnoses.
The reason for this is because the tiny asbestos fibers are more easily inhaled in comparison to being ingested (which tends to lead to other forms of mesothelioma). Once inhaled, the small asbestos fibers become lodged into the pleura and with these fibers now present, they begin to disrupt natural cell growth within the pleura. Learn more about the histology of mesothelioma.
Pleural mesothelioma is often difficult to detect and currently a CT scan of the chest is the best way for assessing how far the disease has progressed. Many cancers are diagnosed by serum markers, however, mesothelioma cannot be diagnosed this way as currently no serum markers exist.
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Causes of Pleural Mesothelioma
Almost every patient that is diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma has come into contact with asbestos at some point. Asbestos is a mineral that occurs naturally in other minerals and rocks. Originally, it was admired by contractors for to its fire retardant and unique insulating capabilities.
In most cases, asbestos exposure occurs when the asbestos containing material is loosened or disturbed. This leads to the release of asbestos fibers by the material into the air.
Asbestos causes pleural mesothelioma when:
- A person inhales asbestos fibers and ingest them.
- The body tries to remove the microscopic fibers but they get stuck within the protective lungs’ lining.
- The trapped asbestos fibers cause irritation to the mesothelioma cells leading to genetic mutations and eventual development of tumors.
Basically, cell division is affected by the genetic mutations that are caused by asbestos fibers. This leads to the development of mesothelioma tumors.
Development of pleural mesothelioma is attributed to numerous risk factors. These are factors that increase the risk of developing pleural mesothelioma.
- Asbestos type
- Working conditions
- Exposure frequency or duration
- Breathing rate during the exposure
- Past illness of the lungs
- Exposure concentration
Work history is among the major factors that are involved in most cases of asbestos exposure. Nevertheless, occupational exposure poses a lesser threat now compared to past years. This is due to the permissible exposure limits standards and regulations that have been adopted in most countries. However, asbestos exposure risk remains high in working conditions that do not meet these standards.
How People Are Commonly Exposed
This was the most common form of asbestos exposure. Individuals in industrial occupations worked with construction materials that had asbestos before the material was banned. Shipyard workers and electricians were among the individuals who suffered occupational asbestos exposure most.
Since this mineral occurs naturally, individuals who lived close to asbestos deposits were exposed to it through mining projects and water run-off. Nevertheless, this was a rare form of asbestos exposure.
- Secondhand exposure
Secondhand asbestos exposure occurred when individuals who worked on occupations using materials that had asbestos inadvertently exposed the occupants of those occupations or buildings. Asbestos fibers on clothes and hair would also be transferred to individuals who were not working on asbestos materials directly. Such individuals included family members of the workers.
Pleural Mesothelioma Symptoms
Mesothelioma in general is difficult to diagnose because there are no real symptoms in the early stages. Furthermore, once symptoms do start to develop, they are often mistaken for common illnesses. Early symptoms include coughing, muscle weakness, night sweats, fever, and fatigue. Unfortunately, early symptoms go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed until further warning signs become apparent from more serious symptoms. It is important to see your doctor if you have or develop any of these symptoms listed above, especially if you have also been exposed to asbestos in the past.
Symptoms of pleural mesothelioma
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Unexplained weight loss
- Persistent cough
- Hoarse voice
- Difficulty swallowing
- Changes in shape of fingers/nails
Advanced Stages Of Mesothelioma Symptoms
- Nerve problems in arm
- Bone pain
- Horner’s syndrome
Mesothelioma symptoms often don’t emerge until about 20 to 50 years after initial exposure, and the symptoms do not appear until the disease has progressed into advanced stages. Pleural mesothelioma is the only type of this cancer that is classified into stages.
Pleural Mesothelioma Stages
The staging for pleural mesothelioma is different from peritoneal (abdominal) mesothelioma. Doctors use four stages to describe how mesothelioma grows. Patients in stage 1 or 2 have the most treatment options. Patients with stage 3 or 4 can use palliative treatments or alternative therapies to improve their quality of life.
Stage 1 Pleural Mesothelioma
Stage 2 Pleural Mesothelioma
Stage 3 Pleural Mesothelioma
Stage 4 Pleural Mesothelioma
Pleural mesothelioma, pericardial, peritoneal and testicular mesotheliomas do not share a universal staging system. These diagnoses are rare and there are not enough cases to accurately describe them using stages.
Patients diagnosed with peritoneal or pericardial mesothelioma are usually categorized as having localized or advanced mesothelioma. A mesothelioma doctor with experience treating mesothelioma can determine how far the cancer has spread and what treatment options will work best.
Learn more about the Stages Of Mesothelioma.
Traditional Pleural Mesothelioma Treatments
Surgery Options For Pleural Mesothelioma
Surgery to remove the mesothelial lining of the lung and chest cavity.
A procedure that uses drugs or chemicals in order to make a scar between the layers of the pleura. Fluid is drained from the space first with a chest tube, then the chemical is put into that space. The subsequent scarring will stop the buildup of fluid inside the pleural cavity.
Surgery that removes a whole lung and some of the lining of the diaphragm, chest and the sac that is around the heart.
Surgery to remove all or part of a lung.
Also known as pleuroscopy, this is a procedure where a thoracoscope is introduced through a tiny incision in the chest. Through other small incision, an endoscope is inserted to obtain internal images and videos. When surgeons perform thoracoscopy to aid another surgery, it is termed as video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery or VATS.
This is an extensive surgical procedure that exposes the patients’ lungs, heart, diaphragm, and trachea to the doctor. It is a 4 to 10-inch long incision made on any side of the chest. It helps the doctor to perform wedge resection, lobectomy, pneumonectomy, segmentectomy, extrapleural pneumonectomy and pleurectomy/decortication like major surgical treatments to manage the lung cancer.
Top Pleural Mesothelioma Specialists
Brigham and Women’s Hospital
75 Francis Street
Boston, MA 02115
Dr. Joseph S. Friedberg
Penn Presbyterian Medical Center
Wright-Saunders Building, Suite 266
51 North 39th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
Dr. David Harpole, Jr.
Duke Cancer Institute
2424 Erwin Road, Suite 403
Durham, NC 27705
Dr. Raffit Hassan
Center for Cancer Research/National Cancer Institute
Building 37, Room 5116
Bethesda, MD 20892
Dr. Raja M. Flores
Mount Sinai Medical Center
One Gustave L. Levy Place
New York, NY 10029
Robert B. Cameron, M.D.
Cardiothoracic Surgery and Surgical Oncology
Medical Treatment Center:
UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center
757 Westwood Plaza, Los Angeles, CA 90095
Abraham Lebenthal, M.D.
Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston
VA Boston Healthcare System
75 Francis Street
What To Know About Mesothelioma Law Firms
When to seek litigation? Exposure to asbestos does not have immediate effects, and the symptoms may only become evident 10, 20, to 50 years after exposure. To answer the question directly, seeking litigation should come immediately after finding a mesothelioma doctor or specialist.
Well, which is a good law firm? There are hundreds of them… When you are looking for a law firm to represent you, there are a couple of qualities to look for:
- Specialty – Most law firms try to diversify their practice, and while this is good for their business, it is not the best business model for their clients.Quick hint: Immediately upon visiting a Law Firm’s website, if their home page doesn’t state in plain sight that they specialize in Mesothelioma or Asbestos related cases, they are probably not a well-established or known law group.
- Experience and reputation – Just like every other type of case, nothing replaces true experience in order to ensure the best results – a speedy case and sufficient compensation. You will be able to determine an experienced law firm by the number of clients they represent and also how many cases regarding mesothelioma they have settled in the past.
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- 10.1186/1745-6673-3-20Pairon, Jean-Claude, et al. “Pleural Plaques and the Risk of Pleural Mesothelioma.” Journal of the National Cancer Institute. 20 February 2013, 105(4P): 293-301. DOI: 10.1093/jnci/djs513
- Robinson, Benjamin M. “Malignant pleural mesothelioma: an epidemiological perspective.” Annals of Cardiothoracic Surgery. 2012 Nov; 1(4): 491–496. Doi: 10.3978/j.issn.2225-319X.2012.11.04. PMCID: PMC3741803
- National Comprehensive Cancer Network. (2014). Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma NCCN Guideline for Patients. Retrieved from http://www.nccn.org/patients/guidelines/mpm/#38
- Cafarotti, S., Porziella, V., Margaritora, S., Granone, P. What is the best way to diagnose and stage malignant pleural mesothelioma? (2011). Interact CadioVasc Thorac Surg. 2011; 12(5): 811. doi: 10.1510/icvts.2010.255901A
- Zauderer, M., Krug, L. The evolution of multimodality therapy for malignant pleural mesothelioma. Curr Treat Options Oncol. 2011; 12(2): 163-172. doi: 10.1007/s11864-011-0146-4
- Kaufman, A., Flores, R. Surgical treatment of malignant pleural mesothelioma. Curr Treat Options Oncol. 2011; 12(2): 201-216. doi: 10.1007/s11864-011-0154-4
- Dodson, R., Hammar, S. Asbestos: Risk Assessment, Epidemiology, and Health Effects. Taylor & Francis: Boca Raton; 2011.
- Pass, I., Vogelzang, N., Carbone, M. Malignant Mesothelioma: Advances in Pathogenesis, Diagnosis, and Transitional Therapies. Springer: New York; 2005.
- Robinson, B., Lake, R. Advances in Malignant Mesothelioma. N Engl J Med. 2005; 353: 1591-1603. Retrieved from http://www.accg.org.br/uploads/arquivos/60a8f968b51a724580704995fcfd39c7.pdf
- Miles, Susan E. “Clinical consequences of asbestos-related diffuse pleural thickening: A review.” Journal of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology. 2008; 3:20. DOI:
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