Pleural Mesothelioma

Definition

The pleura is a membrane. It lines the outside of the lungs and the inside of the chest cavity. Pleural mesothelioma is cancer of the pleura.
Pleura of the Lungs
Pleura of the Lungs
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Causes

Asbestos is a fibrous mineral that is known to cause cancer. This type of cancer is almost always caused by exposure to it. Even a small amount of exposure can be a risk.Other fibers can cause mesothelioma.

Risk Factors

Factors that increase your chances of getting pleural mesothelioma include:
  • Repeated exposure to asbestos fibers
  • Living with a person who works near exposed asbestos fibers
  • Exposure to other fibers(erionite, fluoro-edenite, and refractory ceramic)
  • Exposure to ionizing radiation

Symptoms

This cancer can take up to 20-40 years to develop. Early signs of pleural mesothelioma include:
  • Trouble breathing
  • Long-lasting cough
  • Pain under the rib cage or in the abdomen
  • Pain while breathing
  • Weight loss and fatigue
Many people do not have symptoms for a long period of time.

Diagnosis

Your doctor ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. You may be referred to a doctor who specializes in lung problems or cancer. A pulmonologist focuses on the lungs. An oncologist focuses on cancer. Sometimes, it is hard to tell the difference between this and other, more common types of lung cancer. Images may be taken of your bodily structures. This can be done with:Your bodily fluids and tissues may be tested. This can be done with:These same tests and others may also be used to find out if cancer has spread outside the pleura. It is important to know whether and how far the cancer has spread to plan treatment. This step is called the staging process. It helps determine the level of treatment.

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