Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer. Exposure to asbestos increases one’s risk of having the disease. It is found on the lining of protective tissues of the body including lungs and abdomen. Mesothelioma is often regarded as a disease of the old age because of its pattern of expression.
Latency period is from 20 to 50 years
Unlike other diseases that has immediate or near immediate manifestation, Mesothelioma has a prolonged latency period of between twenty and fifty years. During this period, the cancerous cells continue to grow out of control till symptoms begins to manifest.
It is estimated that in all cases of Mesothelioma, the victim must have crossed 55 years. Also, the average age at which the disease is detected in developed countries is 74 years but in most cases women would begin to show signs from 71 years.
Four symptoms – fever, muscle weakness, night sweats and cough
It is often hard to diagnose this disease because of lack of specific symptoms. Early symptoms are often homologous to everyday ailment and occurrence which would hence cause the confusion in diagnosis. The early symptoms usually include fever, weakness of the muscles, night sweats and cough. These non-specific symptoms often lead to misdiagnosis, false dismissal or ignorance.
However, it is possible to diagnose a patient two to three months of onset of the disease. There are signs that could mean onset of Mesothelioma and should not be ignored. Such signs includes; breathing problems, pleural effusion, coughing up blood, obstruction of the bowel, anemia, and difficulty in swallowing, vomiting and nausea, problems with clotting of blood, weight loss, chest pain and peritoneal effusion.
Mesothelioma has 4 (four) stages
Mesothelioma occurs in various stages and the success of treatment and recovery lies on what stage of the disease when diagnosis was made and treatment effected. There are basically four stages of pleural Mesothelioma namely.
Stage I – the tumer is very small
At this stage, the tumor is so small and localized resulting in absence of symptoms. The mesothelioma is later diffused into the inner layer of the pleura leading to the collection of fluid between layers of the pleura otherwise known as pleura effusion. Early warnings here are those of chest pain, body aches, fever and cough. Draining of the fluid is by surgical process if need be.
Stage II – the tumor begins to spread
The tumor is still localized but soon begins to spread from the pleura to the lung tissues and diaphragm resulting in further respiratory problems.
Stage III – patients get diagnosed
It is at this stage that many of the patients get diagnosed. Many of the infections at this stage will resemble those of typical lung infections like pneumonia and bronchitis. At this stage also, the tumor must have spread throughout the chest cavity affecting the lining of the heart and diaphragm likewise neighboring tissues. This stage is most characterized by fatigue, wheezing and loss of weight.
Stage IV – several body parts are affected
At this stage, the cancer must have metastasized and covered the entire chest cavity. Some organs and tissues begin to be affected too. The symptoms enlarge to include such things as night sweats and abdominal pain in addition to those mentioned earlier. Treatment at this stage will focus on alleviating the symptoms.
- Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer.
- It affects the lining of the lungs, abdomen and chest cavity.
- Some people are misdiagnosed because of the lack of specificity of symptoms.
- Most of the diagnosis happens on stage three of the disease.
- Stage one is characterized by localized tumor.
- Mesothelioma has four stages of growth.
- In stage four, the tumor is disseminated and covers the entire chest cavity.
- Treatment at stage four will try to manage the symptoms.
- Symptoms of Mesothelioma resemble those of pneumonia and bronchitis.
- If diagnosis is done at the early stage of the disease, chances of recovery are higher.
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