Asbestos exposure is a significant risk factor for developing mesothelioma, a rare and aggressive form of cancer that affects the thin layer of tissue that covers most of the internal organs. Among the three primary types of mesothelioma – epithelioid, sarcomatoid, and biphasic – epithelioid mesothelioma is the most common, accounting for around 70% of all mesothelioma cases. In this article, we will explore the different aspects of epithelioid mesothelioma, including its symptoms, causes, and treatment.
Before diving deeper into the topic, it’s crucial to understand what mesothelioma is and how it affects the body. Mesothelioma occurs when the mesothelial cells that line the internal organs start dividing uncontrollably, forming tumors that can spread to neighboring tissues and organs. Mesothelioma is a very aggressive type of cancer, and its prognosis is generally poor.
In the following sections, we will discuss the different aspects of epithelioid mesothelioma, including its symptoms, diagnosis, causes, and treatment options.
What Is Epithelioid Mesothelioma?
Epithelioid mesothelioma is a type of mesothelioma that develops from mesothelial cells that line the internal organs. It is called “epithelioid” because the cancer cells resemble normal epithelial cells found in the body. This type of mesothelioma is the most common, accounting for around 70% of all mesothelioma cases.
What Are the Symptoms of Epithelioid Mesothelioma?
The symptoms of epithelioid mesothelioma are similar to those of other types of mesothelioma and can take years or even decades to appear. Some of the most common symptoms of epithelioid mesothelioma include:
|Chest pain||Pain in the chest area, usually on one side|
|Shortness of breath||Difficulty breathing or feeling like you can’t catch your breath|
|Coughing||Persistent cough that doesn’t go away and may produce blood or mucus|
|Weight loss||Unexplained weight loss despite a good appetite|
|Fatigue||Feeling tired or weak all the time|
|Sweating||Night sweats and fever|
If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s essential to contact your doctor immediately, especially if you have a history of asbestos exposure.
What Causes Epithelioid Mesothelioma?
Asbestos exposure is the primary cause of epithelioid mesothelioma, accounting for over 80% of all cases. Asbestos is a mineral that was widely used in various industries, including construction, shipbuilding, and automobile manufacturing, due to its heat-resistant and insulating properties.
When asbestos fibers are inhaled, they can get trapped in the lungs and other organs, causing inflammation and scarring. Over time, these fibers can damage the DNA of the mesothelial cells, leading to the development of mesothelioma.
How Is Epithelioid Mesothelioma Diagnosed?
Diagnosing mesothelioma can be challenging since its symptoms overlap with those of other respiratory conditions. To diagnose epithelioid mesothelioma, your doctor may perform a series of tests, including:
- Chest X-ray
- CT scan
A biopsy is the most accurate way to diagnose mesothelioma. During this procedure, your doctor will remove a tissue sample from the affected area and examine it under a microscope to look for cancerous cells.
What Are the Treatment Options for Epithelioid Mesothelioma?
There is currently no cure for mesothelioma, but several treatment options can help manage the symptoms and improve the patient’s quality of life. The treatment options for epithelioid mesothelioma include:
- Radiation therapy
- Multimodal therapy (a combination of two or more treatment options)
The choice of treatment will depend on various factors, including the patient’s overall health, the stage of the cancer, and the location of the tumor.
What Is the Prognosis for Epithelioid Mesothelioma?
The prognosis for epithelioid mesothelioma varies depending on several factors, including the stage of the cancer, the patient’s overall health, and the treatment options available. On average, the survival rate for epithelioid mesothelioma is around 18 months, but some patients may live for several years with proper treatment.
Is Mesothelioma Hereditary?
No, mesothelioma is not a hereditary disease. However, some studies suggest that certain genetic factors may increase the risk of developing mesothelioma when combined with asbestos exposure.
What Are the Risk Factors for Developing Epithelioid Mesothelioma?
The primary risk factor for developing epithelioid mesothelioma is asbestos exposure. Other factors that may increase the risk of developing mesothelioma include:
- Gender (men are more likely to develop mesothelioma than women)
- Age (mesothelioma is more common in people over 65)
- History of radiation therapy
Is Mesothelioma Contagious?
No, mesothelioma is not contagious and cannot be spread from person to person.
What Are the Different Types of Mesothelioma?
There are three primary types of mesothelioma:
- Epithelioid mesothelioma
- Sarcomatoid mesothelioma
- Biphasic mesothelioma (a combination of both epithelioid and sarcomatoid cells)
Can Mesothelioma Be Prevented?
The only way to prevent mesothelioma is to avoid exposure to asbestos. If you work in an industry that uses asbestos, make sure to follow all safety guidelines and wear protective gear at all times.
Can Mesothelioma Be Treated?
Although there is no cure for mesothelioma, several treatment options can help manage the symptoms and improve the patient’s quality of life. These include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, and multimodal therapy.
Is Mesothelioma a Type of Lung Cancer?
No, mesothelioma is not a type of lung cancer. Although both diseases affect the respiratory system and share some symptoms, they originate from different types of cells. Mesothelioma develops from mesothelial cells that line the internal organs, while lung cancer develops from lung cells.
What Is the Difference Between Pleural and Peritoneal Mesothelioma?
Pleural mesothelioma develops in the lining of the lungs, while peritoneal mesothelioma develops in the lining of the abdomen. Although they share some symptoms, their treatment and prognosis may differ due to their different locations and how they affect the body.
What Are the Early Signs of Mesothelioma?
The early signs of mesothelioma may take years or even decades to appear and can include chest pain, shortness of breath, coughing, and fatigue.
Can Asbestos Still Be Found Today?
Although the use of asbestos has decreased significantly in recent years, it can still be found in various products and materials, including insulation, roofing materials, and automotive parts.
Is Mesothelioma Covered by Workers’ Compensation?
Yes, mesothelioma is covered by workers’ compensation. If you developed mesothelioma as a result of asbestos exposure at work, you may be eligible for compensation to cover your medical expenses and lost wages.
What Is the Cost of Mesothelioma Treatment?
The cost of mesothelioma treatment can vary significantly depending on various factors, including the stage of the cancer, the type of treatment, and the patient’s overall health. In some cases, mesothelioma treatment can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
How Can I Support Someone with Mesothelioma?
If someone you know has mesothelioma, there are several ways you can support them. These include offering emotional support, helping with daily tasks, and researching treatment options.
Where Can I Find More Information about Mesothelioma?
You can find more information about mesothelioma from various sources, including mesothelioma organizations, medical centers, and government websites. Some of the most reputable sources include the American Cancer Society, the National Institutes of Health, and the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation.
Epithelioid mesothelioma is a rare but aggressive form of cancer that affects the lining of the internal organs. Although there is no cure for mesothelioma, several treatment options can help manage the symptoms and improve the patient’s quality of life. If you experience any symptoms of mesothelioma, you must contact your doctor immediately, especially if you have a history of asbestos exposure.
Remember, prevention is key when it comes to mesothelioma. If you work in an industry that uses asbestos, make sure to follow all safety guidelines and wear protective gear at all times. By taking these precautions, you can reduce your risk of developing this deadly disease.
The information provided in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please consult your doctor or a qualified healthcare provider if you have any concerns about your health or the health of a loved one.