Mesothelium is the thin tissue that lines your lungs, stomach, heart, and other organs. Malignant mesothelioma (me-zoe-thee-lee-O-muh) is a type of cancer which forms in the mesothelium. It usually forms in the lungs but can also take root in the abdomen or other organs.
Malignant mesothelioma is rare but serious. Most people who get it have worked on jobs where they inhaled asbestos particles. After being exposed to asbestos, it usually takes a long time for the disease to form.
Symptoms of malignant mesothelioma include:
It can be difficult for doctors to tell the difference between malignant mesothelioma and lung cancer. Doctors use imaging tests and a biopsy to make the diagnosis. Because people don’t easily recognize the symptoms of malignant mesothelioma, doctors often diagnose the cancer after it has already reached an advanced stage. This makes it harder for doctors to effectively treat. Once diagnosed, treatment may include surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, and/or targeted therapy. Targeted therapy uses drugs or other substances that attack specific cancer cells with less harm than normal cells.
Below are different treatments available for patients with malignant mesothelioma.
Radiation therapy is a cancer treatment that uses high-energy x-rays or other types of radiation to kill cancer cells or keep them from growing. External radiation therapy uses a machine outside the body to send radiation toward the area of the body with cancer. Radiation therapy may also be used for palliative therapy to relieve symptoms and improve quality of life.
Chemotherapy is a cancer treatment that uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells, either by killing the cells or by stopping them from dividing. Whether taken in pill-form or injected into a vein or muscle, chemotherapy drugs enter the bloodstream and reach cancer cells throughout the body (systemic chemotherapy).
Targeted therapy is a type of treatment that uses drugs or other substances to identify and attack specific cancer cells. Targeted therapies usually cause less harm to normal cells than chemotherapy or radiation therapy does.
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