Mesothelioma is one of the most scary diagnoses that a person can receive. This cancer, which is believed to be caused by asbestos exposure and inhalation, has one of the worst prognoses in the cancer arena. This type of cancer is extremely aggressive and it attacks and destroys the mesothelium. The mesothelium is the lining that covers the organs. In most cases, the mesothelium lines the organs in two layers and it provides a lubricating fluid between the two layers.
Since almost all organs are covered with mesothelium, the type of cancer that allows tumors to grow on this lining is extremely aggressive and dangerous. Mesothelioma can spread and metastasize quickly and it can move into the organs very quickly.
In most cases, Mesothelioma presents in the pleural lining of the lungs or the peritoneal lining of the intestines. It can be hard to detect, confirm, and diagnose because of the location of the tumors. In many cases, invasive diagnostic tests are needed to confirm the diagnosis. Mesothelioma is usually diagnosed with CT, PET, or MRI scans. In order to detect the tumors, radioactive dyes are used to pinpoint the tumors. Exposing the body to radiation or radioactive dyes is not ideal when dealing with aggressive cancer that spreads quickly. In some cases, ultrasound can be used to help diagnose Mesothelioma.
Treatments for Mesothelioma attempt to stave off the aggressive spreading of the disease. Treatment options can include surgery (pneumonectomy), brachytherapy, radiation, chemotherapy, Pleurodesis, and Angiogenesis.
There are new and less aggressive treatment alternatives. However, they have not all been completely tested and proven yet. Many treatment alternatives are still in trial phases. Some people with diagnosed Mesothelioma may be eligible to receive some of these alternative treatments under specific “research study” guidelines.
Most doctors use one of three different types of systems to “stage” Mesothelioma. In some cases, a combination of these systems may be used to determine the “stage” of the disease.
The oldest type of staging system is called the Butchart system. This system bases the stage of cancer on the mass of the primary tumor. There are four different stages with this system.
The next system developed following the Butchart system is called TNM. This system takes into consideration both spread and mass of the tumors. It also takes into consideration the involvement of the lymph nodes and the rate in which the tumors metastasize.
The latest staging system is called Brigham. This system rates the stages of Mesothelioma on the ability to have it surgically removed, which is known as resectability. It also takes into consideration the involvement of the lymph nodes.
Receiving a diagnosis of Mesothelioma can be extremely scary and overwhelming. Modern medicine has made great strides in treating this type of cancer. There is hope for people with Mesothelioma.