Mesothelioma has become a more common term in recent years as people have become aware of this form of cancer, but pleural mesothelioma can often confuse patients facing this diagnosis because they are unsure of what the term means.
Having a better idea and understanding of what one is facing when they hear the words “pleural mesothelioma” will give you a better ability to approach this challenging time in your life.
What is pleural mesothelioma?
Pleural mesothelioma is the most common form of mesothelioma, accounting for over three fourths of the total cases of this cancer causing and often deadly disease caused by prolonged exposure to asbestos.
How does this form of cancer develop?
As in all cases of mesothelioma, the disease starts in the mesothelium – the supportive and connective tissue surrounding one’s internal organs. For pleural mesothelioma, the tissue affected surrounds the lungs and fills the cavity around them.
When individuals inhale asbestos, a known carcinogen, the small fibers get into the tiniest openings within the lungs. From there, they move into the pleura, the tissue surrounding the lungs that protects and cushions them as they contract and expand. After those fibers reach the pleura, a chemical reaction occurs that is not fully understood by medical science, which results in abnormalities in the cells of the pleura. Those abnormal cells then reproduce rapidly, creating tumors and spreading throughout the pleura and occasionally through other tissue of the mesothelium.
One of the side effects of the abnormal cells is the thickening of the fluid surrounding the lungs, a condition referred to as pleural effusion. As the fluid becomes thicker, it causes friction where it should be lubricating as the lungs expand and contract with each breath.
This side effect accounts for many of the symptoms of pleural mesothelioma including the following:
- Breathlessness or shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Weight loss
- Night sweats
Diagnosing pleural mesothelioma
Due to the nonspecific symptoms of mesothelioma in general, the initial diagnosis can often be challenging for physicians. Generally, the first assessment of pleural mesothelioma is based on patient history and reported symptoms, which is why it is particularly important to let your doctor know if you have been exposed to asbestos at any point. After the initial diagnosis has been made, it will be further tested through X-rays, CT or CAT scans, MRI, and eventually a tissue biopsy.
The sooner your pleural mesothelioma is diagnosed, the better your chance of survival may be. If you have identified any of these symptoms in yourself or a loved one who has been exposed to asbestos or even suspects that they may have been exposed, seek medial advice immediately.
Seek legal help today
It is also important to seek legal counsel as soon as possible as you may be entitled to reparations under the law. If this is the case, the sooner you enlist the help of a legal authority with experience in mesothelioma law, the better your case will be. Contact the Louisiana Asbestos Attorneys at Landry & Swarr today for a free consultation.