Friday, August 31, 2007

Pleural Mesothelioma


Malignant pleural mesotheliomaPleural Mesothelioma as compared to a healthy lung. is the most common type of mesothelioma, making up over two-thirds of all cases. Pleural mesothelioma affects the lining of the lung and chest cavity known as the pleura.

The pleura is made up of the parietal and visceral pleura. The parietal pleura lines the chest wall and diaphragm while the visceral pleura lines the lungs.

Asbestos fibers work their way into the smallest passageways of the lungs and then into the pleura. Once there, an unknown chemical reaction causes cancerous cell development. As the cells begin to divide abnormally, the pleural lining thickens and excess fluid may accumulate. Pleural thickening gradually contracts the breathing space, causing shortness of breath—often the first symptom for pleural mesothelioma. The fluid, once carefully measured to allow smooth movement between the lungs and other organs, now causes increased pressure, further hindering breathing. This excess fluid is often seen on X-rays, and is referred to as a pleural effusion.

Pleural mesothelioma, like all kinds of mesothelioma, can be difficult to diagnose or easily misdiagnosed. If you are aware of prior asbestos exposure, it is important to inform your physician so that mesothelioma symptoms can be correctly identified.

While a diagnosis of pleural mesothelioma is certainly serious, it is not without options. A variety of new and novel mesothelioma treatments are available, as are a variety of clinical trials.

How does asbestos cause asbestosis?

Asbestos fibers inhaled into the lungs become imbedded in the delicate lining of the lungs. The fibers are so small and thin that they are able to beat the body's natural defenses. They accumulate in the lower portion of the lungs, becoming lodged into narrow airways. This causes scarring and inflammation, leading to a chronic cough and chest pain, the first symptoms of Asbestosis.

Asbestos, cancer, and smoking

While smoking increases your risk for a variety of other cancers, it does not by itself create a predisposition for pleural mesothelioma. In conjunction with asbestos exposure, however, smoking does increase the risk of developing pleural mesothelioma. The combination of smoking and asbestos exposure also increases the risk of developing lung cancer, as does prolonged exposure to asbestos.

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