What is Mesothelioma?
Malignant mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that develops in the mesothelium which is a protective lining that covers most of the body’s internal organs. Mesothelioma is divided into three primary histological types: Epithelioid, Sarcomatoid and Mixed/biphasic.
Mesothelioma develops in three major areas of the body:
Most people with malignant mesothelioma have worked on jobs where they breathed asbestos.
A doctor should be seen if a person has shortness of breath, pain in the chest, or pain or swelling in the abdomen. If there are symptoms, the doctor may order an x-ray of the chest or abdomen.
The doctor may also look inside the chest cavity for mesothelioma with a special instrument called a thoracoscope. A cut will be made through the chest wall and the thoracoscope will be put into the chest between two ribs. This test, called thoracoscopy, is usually done in a hospital. Before the test, the patient is given a local anesthetic (a drug that causes a loss of feeling for a short period of time). Some pressure may be felt, but usually there is no pain.
The doctor may also look inside the abdomen (peritoneoscopy) for mesothelioma with a special tool called a peritoneoscope. The peritoneoscope is put into an opening made in the abdomen. This test is also usually done in a hospital. Before the test is done, a local anesthetic is administered.
If abnormal tissue is found, the doctor will need to cut out a small piece and have it looked at under a microscope to see if there are any mesothelioma cells. This is called a biopsy. Biopsies are usually done during the thoracoscopy or peritoneoscopy.
The chance of recovery (prognosis) from mesothelioma depends on the size of the malignant mesothelioma, where the mesothelioma is, how far the mesothelioma has spread, how the mesothelioma cells look under the microscope, how the mesothelioma responds to treatment, and the patient’s age.
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