COPD and Mesothelioma
Living with multiple conditions.
What is Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is a very rare form of cancer that is found on the lungs, digestive system and heart. The most common form of mesothelioma is called pleural mesothelioma and occurs in the lungs. Mesothelioma is a very aggressive form of cancer. In the early stages, life expectance can be 5 years or even greater. If treatment is not sought until the disease has reached the later stages, then life expectancy drops to less than a year.
Where Does Mesothelioma Form?
Unlike other lung cancers, mesothelioma forms in the thin layer of cells on the outer lung called the pleural. The pleural tissue is a protective membrane that surround the lungs. Mesothelioma can also form in the abdomen (peritoneal mesothelioma) and in the heart (pericardial mesothelioma). Less than 1 percent of mesothelioma is formed in the testicles (testicular mesothelioma)
What Causes Mesothelioma?
The leading cause of mesothelioma is the inhalation of asbestos over a long period of time. The tiny fibers that make up asbestos get lodged in the outer lung, and over many years, the damage causes cell mutations and cancer.
The stage of the disease, as well as the area the cancer has developed, contributes to the type of treatment chosen. Common treatment plans include the following:
- Surgery – typically, surgery is only an option for early-stage mesothelioma. Surgery is occasionally performed to remove the pleural tissue so the cancer is less likely to spread, or it is performed to decrease the build-up of fluid in your chest.
- Chemotherapy – a mixture of chemicals designed to shrink and stop the growth of cancer cells, chemotherapy can be an effective treatment option. The drug can be introduced into the body intravenously or through a process called intraperitoneal where the medicine is directly applied to the diseased areas.
- Radiation – a common treatment for most cancers, radiation is the process of emitting radioactive waves directly at a specific area of the body. Radiation helps shrink the cells and stop their growth.
- Clinical trials – with few treatment options showing high success rates, many people become discouraged, or simply opt to enlist in a clinical trial for experimental treatments.