Hello and welcome to this comprehensive journal article on pleural epithelioid mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive form of cancer that affects the mesothelial cells that line the body’s internal organs. Pleural epithelioid mesothelioma is a type of mesothelioma that affects the lining of the lungs. In this article, we will explore this condition in detail, from its causes and symptoms to diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis. Through this article, we hope to provide you with a better understanding of pleural epithelioid mesothelioma and how it affects individuals.
What is Pleural Epithelioid Mesothelioma?
Pleural epithelioid mesothelioma is a malignant form of mesothelioma that affects the lining of the lungs, known as the pleura. The pleura is a thin membrane that covers the lungs and lines the inside of the chest cavity. It is made up of two layers – the visceral layer that covers the lungs and the parietal layer that lines the chest wall. When cancerous cells develop in the pleura, it can cause the layers to thicken, resulting in pleural effusion, a buildup of fluid that can compress the lungs and cause difficulty breathing.
Symptoms of Pleural Epithelioid Mesothelioma
The early symptoms of pleural epithelioid mesothelioma are often nonspecific, which means they can be mistaken for other conditions. These symptoms include:
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Chronic cough
- Weight loss
As the disease progresses, the symptoms become more severe and can include:
- Blood in sputum
- Difficulty swallowing
- Night sweats
Causes of Pleural Epithelioid Mesothelioma
The primary cause of pleural epithelioid mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral that was widely used in construction and manufacturing until the 1970s. When asbestos fibers are inhaled, they can become lodged in the lungs and irritate the pleura, leading to the development of cancerous cells. The risk of developing pleural epithelioid mesothelioma is highest for individuals who have worked in asbestos-related industries, such as construction, manufacturing, mining, and shipbuilding, but it can also affect individuals who have been exposed to asbestos through secondary exposure, such as family members of individuals who worked in these industries.
Diagnosis of Pleural Epithelioid Mesothelioma
Diagnosing pleural epithelioid mesothelioma can be challenging, as the early symptoms are nonspecific, and the condition is rare. The diagnostic process usually involves a series of tests and procedures, including:
Medical History and Physical Examination
The doctor will ask about the patient’s medical history and conduct a physical examination to look for signs of pleural effusion, such as decreased breath sounds and dullness on percussion. They may also order imaging tests to get a better look at the lungs and chest cavity.
Imaging tests, such as X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs, can help identify any abnormalities in the lungs and pleura. These tests can also help determine the extent of the cancer and whether it has spread to other parts of the body.
A biopsy involves taking a small tissue sample from the affected area and examining it under a microscope to look for cancerous cells. There are several types of biopsies, including needle biopsies, thoracoscopy, and thoracotomy.
Treatment of Pleural Epithelioid Mesothelioma
The treatment of pleural epithelioid mesothelioma may involve a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy, depending on the stage and extent of the cancer.
Surgery is often recommended for early-stage pleural epithelioid mesothelioma. The goal of surgery is to remove as much of the cancerous tissue as possible. There are several types of surgery, including:
- Pleurectomy and decortication (P/D)
- Extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP)
- Video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS)
Chemotherapy involves the use of drugs to kill cancerous cells. It is often used in combination with surgery and radiation therapy to increase the chances of success. Some common chemotherapy drugs used to treat pleural epithelioid mesothelioma include cisplatin and pemetrexed.
Radiation therapy involves the use of high-energy X-rays to kill cancerous cells. It is often used in combination with other treatments to reduce the size of the tumor and relieve symptoms.
Prognosis of Pleural Epithelioid Mesothelioma
The prognosis of pleural epithelioid mesothelioma depends on several factors, including the stage and extent of the cancer, the age and overall health of the patient, and the type of treatment used. Unfortunately, pleural epithelioid mesothelioma is often diagnosed in the later stages, when it has already spread to other parts of the body, making it more difficult to treat.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Here are some common questions about pleural epithelioid mesothelioma:
What is the difference between pleural epithelioid mesothelioma and other types of mesothelioma?
Pleural epithelioid mesothelioma is a specific type of mesothelioma that affects the lining of the lungs. Other types of mesothelioma can affect the lining of other organs, such as the abdomen or the heart.
Is pleural epithelioid mesothelioma curable?
Currently, there is no cure for pleural epithelioid mesothelioma. However, with early diagnosis and treatment, the prognosis can be improved.
How long does it take for pleural epithelioid mesothelioma to develop?
It can take anywhere from 20 to 50 years for pleural epithelioid mesothelioma to develop after exposure to asbestos.
Can pleural epithelioid mesothelioma be prevented?
The best way to prevent pleural epithelioid mesothelioma is to avoid exposure to asbestos. If you work in an industry that uses asbestos, be sure to follow all safety guidelines and wear protective equipment.
Is there a support group for individuals with pleural epithelioid mesothelioma?
Yes, there are many support groups available for individuals with pleural epithelioid mesothelioma and their families. These groups can provide emotional support and information about treatment options and resources.
We hope that this article has provided you with a better understanding of pleural epithelioid mesothelioma and how it affects individuals. It is a rare and aggressive form of cancer that can be challenging to diagnose and treat. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of pleural epithelioid mesothelioma or have been exposed to asbestos in the past, it is crucial to see a doctor for an evaluation. Early diagnosis and treatment can improve the prognosis and increase the chances of successful treatment.