What is Mesothelioma Cancer?
Malignant mesothelioma cancer is an uncommon medical condition that occurs from the transformation of the mesothelium—the protective layer of cells that protects the heart, abdomen and lungs. The wide majority of mesothelioma cases derive from prolonged exposure to asbestos fibers. When asbestos dust is released into the air (asbestos becomes airborne when it is contacted or disturbed) the cancerous dust becomes susceptible to inhalation. When perpetually inhaled these fibers congregate in the mesothelium and eventually eat-away at the protective lining. When left alone, asbestos materials pose little threat to human beings.
Once the mesothelium is infiltrated, the cancerous particles form tumors. These bodies then proliferate to remote areas of the body, destroying vital organs along the way. Because the cancer spreads to remote areas, prognosis attached to mesothelioma cancer is exceptionally bleak; a huge percentage of mesothelioma patients fall victim to the cancer.
The average life expectancy for a mesothelioma cancer is 7 to 9 months after diagnosis. These bleak statistics are attributed to the disease’s slow-developing symptoms—the disease is nearly impossible to detect during its earliest formation.
Diagnostic complications stem from the cancer’s slow-developing symptoms and innocuous cellular structure. In the wide majority of cases, mesothelioma patients will not be made aware of their symptoms until 25-50 years after their initial exposure to asbestos. When symptoms become tangible, the cancer has typically metastasized to the point where it becomes inoperable. When malignant mesothelioma cancer progresses, patients are only eligible for palliative treatment; these methods are only applied to a mesothelioma treatment regimen to mitigate the cancer’s symptoms. Palliative mesothelioma treatment is purely elective and only undertaken to bolster the mesothelioma patient’s quality of life. Malignant mesothelioma cancer, if not discovered during the disease’s infancy, it is deemed incurable.
What are the Stages of Mesothelioma Cancer?
Stage I: In the beginning, mesothelioma will feature a localized tumor. The tumor is typically found in the lining of the lungs, the diaphragm, or the sac surrounding the heart. Diagnosing the rare medical condition in this stage is exceptionally rare. Mesothelioma patients who are lucky enough to secure a 1st stage diagnosis are often deemed eligible for curative surgeries. These operations will attempt to extract the cancer from the patient. The availability of these operations; however, is solely dependent on the patient’s overall health.
Stage II: When the cancer transitions into its second stage, the disease has metastasized beyond its origin point. Second stage mesothelioma is frequently located in the lymph nodes or chest cavity. Curative operations may be administered for second stage mesothelioma; however, palliative options are typically undertaken due to the cancer’s proliferation. Because of this, stage II mesothelioma cancer boasts a more pessimistic life expectancy/prognosis.
Stage III: The most common stage for mesothelioma diagnosis. Reason for widespread diagnosis in this stage is due to the presence of tangible symptoms. Stage III mesothelioma cancer may be located in the heart, mediastinum, the lining of the peritoneum or in the diaphragm and the chest wall. This form of mesothelioma cancer is attached with a brutal life expectancy, primarily due to severe proliferation. Because widespread spreading, sufferers of Stage III mesothelioma may only receive palliative care; these mesothelioma treatment options are administered to mitigate the symptoms associated with the condition. Palliative treatment is elective and administered to improve the patient’s quality of life.
Stage IV: In its final stage, mesothelioma spreads to remote locations in the body. Because of severe proliferation, stage IV mesothelioma is deemed inoperable. Stage IV mesothelioma symptoms are extremely painful and only palliative treatment may be applied to improve the patient’s quality of life. Stage IV mesothelioma life expectancy decreases to 4 to 18 months.
What are Mesothelioma Drugs?
Mesothelioma treatment methods will require a number of different therapies; each mesothelioma treatment option aims to kill cancerous bodies, prevent the mesothelioma tumor from spreading or alleviating symptoms associated with the disease. That being said, each mesothelioma patient’s situation is unique; the patient’s medical history and the characteristics tied to the individual’s disease will ultimately shape their specific mesothelioma treatment plant. Additionally, the patient’s financial situation and ability to travel will be factored into their particular mesothelioma treatment plan.
As stated above, the bulk of mesothelioma cases are not detected until the cancer proliferates or advances into its latter stages. Because of delayed diagnosis, the wide majority of mesothelioma treatment options involve mesothelioma drugs. In addition to palliative care, mesothelioma treatment plans for patients seeking a curative route commonly include one or several mesothelioma drugs to stop the spread of cancer and eliminate existing tumors.
Mesothelioma drugs are typically applied in combination with other drugs or attached to other mesothelioma treatments, like radiation therapy and/or surgery. A combined approach, known as multi-modal therapy, is desired to attack the cancer in a multi-pronged way. The use of multiple mesothelioma treatments offers the best chance of eliminating the cancer cells and shrinking the associated tumors.
Each mesothelioma drug option will fall into one of a few categories based on how it fights the cancer. The primary categories associated with mesothelioma treatment are: immunotherapy, chemotherapy, anti-angiogenesis and photosensitizing. Some mesothelioma drugs that fall into these categories are still undergoing clinical testing; other mesothelioma drugs have already been approved by the Food and Drug Administration to fight malignant mesothelioma or other cancers. Other uncommon mesothelioma drugs include hormonal and/or gene therapy—both of these mesothelioma drugs are currently being experimented to fight mesothelioma cancer.