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What Is Pleural Mesothelioma?

Pleural mesothelioma is the most common type of asbestos-related cancer, and it specifically affects the pleura (the lining of the lungs).

What Causes Pleural Mesothelioma?

Pleural mesothelioma is caused by the inhalation of asbestos. When asbestos dust is inhaled, its fibers can become trapped in the lining of the lungs. This can lead to inflammation and may eventually cause mesothelioma in some individuals.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you may be able to file a lawsuit and recover compensation for medical bills and other losses.  To learn more about your legal options, contact us today.

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What Are the Symptoms of Pleural Mesothelioma?

Often, pleural plaques (thickening of the lining of the lungs) serve as a precursor for a future cancer diagnosis, though they do not specifically cause pleural mesothelioma. Certain symptoms may also signal early-stage pleural mesothelioma, including:

  • Chest pain
  • Weight loss
  • Fever
Symptoms of advanced-stage mesothelioma may include:
  • Trouble breathing due to fluid build-up in the chest
  • Persistent dry/raspy cough
  • Pain in the lower back or rib area
  • Night sweats
  • Thickening/calcification of the pleura (lung's lining)
  • Coughing up blood
  • Difficulty swallowing

Those experiencing symptoms of mesothelioma may have one or more of the following tests performed by a doctor to determine whether they have this type of lung cancer and, if so, the stage of their cancer:

  • CT Scans are used to scan the chest area and check for evidence of asbestos exposure. This test can also help determine the stage of a patient's mesothelioma.
  • X-Rays help determine whether the patient has pleural effusions (a build-up of fluid between the layers of tissue lining the lungs) or pleural-based masses on his or her lungs, which may signal a cancer diagnosis.
  • PET Scans can show whether the cancer has metastasized (spread) to the lymph nodes, the area of the body where cancer typically first spreads.

What Treatments Are Available for Pleural Mesothelioma Victims?

Pleural mesothelioma, like other types of cancer, is typically treated through surgery, chemotherapy, radiation or a combination of these treatments.

  • Surgery is often used in an attempt to destroy cancer cells and shrink malignant tumors. Some surgeries available to pleural mesothelioma victims include pleurectomy/decortications (P/D), in which a surgeon removes the tumor and affected pleura, and an extrapleural pneumonectomy (EEP), in which the pleura, entire cancerous lung, diaphragm and pericardium (protective membrane over the heart) are removed.
  • Chemotherapy is a type of treatment that uses drugs to kill cancer cells and shrink malignant tumors. It is the most common treatment for this type of cancer.
  • Radiation therapy can be used to target cancer cells and decrease tumor size; however, pleural mesothelioma specifically resists this type of therapy. Therefore, patients typically use radiation to manage the uncomfortable symptoms of mesothelioma, such as chest pains, rather than to cure the disease. Additionally, radiation can be used following a surgery such as EEP to help prevent recurrence of the cancer.

While none of these are known cures for mesothelioma, it is believed treatment that combines two or more of these methods (known as multimodal treatment) may be the best option for pleural mesothelioma victims.

Pleural Mesothelioma Prognosis

Compared to other types of mesothelioma, pleural mesothelioma has the most promising prognosis. Still, doctors typically estimate that a pleural mesothelioma victim will not live longer than 18 months after a diagnosis.

While the stage of the disease at diagnosis is the most important factor in determining a patient's prognosis, age, gender, history of smoking, and whether the patient is experiencing difficulty breathing may also contribute to his or her prognosis.