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
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Causes

Cancer occurs when cells in the body divide without control or order. If cells keep dividing uncontrollably, a mass of tissue forms. This is called a growth or tumor. The term cancer refers to malignant tumors. They can invade nearby tissue and spread to other parts of the body. 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 may increase your chance 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 will 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 in order to plan treatment. This step is called the staging process. It helps determine the level of treatment.

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