Pleural mesothelioma is cancer that is caused because of asbestos where tumors are formed in the membrane of cells lining the chest wall and lungs called pleura. It is rare, malignant and the most common form of asbestos-related cancer. For pleural mesothelioma, the diagnosis can be made from four factors that make it unique:
One is the location of the tumors, which are on the pleura. Next is the symptoms associated which include shortness of breath or chest pain given that this is a disease of the lungs and primarily affects the respiratory system or the thoracic cavity. The third is the treatment involved. For pleural mesothelioma, surgery, along with chemotherapy drug treatment is standard. Surgery involves removal of the pleura and, sometimes, part of the affected lung.
Pleural mesothelioma cannot be considered curable. The prognosis is quite poor. Patients who do not undergo treatment have a life expectancy of barely six months. Studies have shown that patients with pleural mesothelioma who receive a drug treatment of pemetrexed and cisplatin can live up to a year. Prognosis, therefore, depends on various factors. One is the size of the tumor and the stage it is at. Another is the histopathology, otherwise understood to be the cell type of the person. The third is the gender and age of the patient. The fourth factor is the stage of cancer. In young women with pleural mesothelioma, stages one and two have a better prognosis than those who are men, older or in the later stages.
Some of the most common symptoms of pleural mesothelioma include chest pain, dyspnea or shortness of breath, pleural effusion or fluid in the lungs and dry cough. Generally, pleural mesothelioma is found along with certain other accompanying conditions. These conditions have their own symptoms. One of these is called pleural plaque where the lungs have a chalky substance on them because of calcification. Another is diffuse pleural thickening or DPT where the pleural spaces are filled gray, fibrous tissue. Another condition is called asbestosis where there is scarring of lungs, otherwise called fibrosis. These conditions though can occur exclusive of pleural mesothelioma and their occurrence does not necessarily indicate the presence of cancer.