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About Mesothelioma
Welcome to the Mesothelioma by eMedTV. Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer affecting the mesothelium, which is a protective sac that covers most of the body's internal organs. Most cases of mesothelioma begin in the pleura (lining around the lungs) or peritoneum (the lining around the abdomen). It is typically caused by asbestos exposure. A history of asbestos exposure at work is reported in about 70 to 80 percent of all cases of mesothelioma. Standard treatment options for mesothelioma include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.
What Are the Symptoms of Mesothelioma?
Symptoms of mesothelioma differ based on the location of the cancer. Pleural mesothelioma symptoms are usually due to an accumulation of fluid in the pleura and include shortness of breath and pain in the chest or under the ribcage. Peritoneal mesothelioma symptoms may include weight loss, lumps in the abdomen, abdominal pain, and abdominal swelling due to a buildup of fluid.
Sometimes mesothelioma symptoms will not appear until 30 to 50 years after initial exposure to asbestos.
What Are the Stages of Mesothelioma?
Staging information is used to determine the extent of the mesothelioma and whether it has spread. There are two categories of mesothelioma stages: localized and advanced.
In stage I (localized) mesothelioma is found in the lining of the chest wall and may also be found in the lining of the lung, the lining of the diaphragm, or the lining of the sac that covers the heart on the same side of the chest. Advanced mesothelioma includes stage II, stage III, and stage IV. Doctors use chest x-rays, CT scans, and MRIs in mesothelioma staging.
How Is Mesothelioma Treated?
Treatment options for patients with mesothelioma include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. If the mesothelioma is in one part of the chest lining, treatment will probably involve surgery to remove the part of the chest lining with cancer and some of the tissue around it.
Surgical treatment options may include wide local excision, pleurectomy and decortication, extrapleural pneumonectomy, and pleurodesis.
What Are the Survival Rates for Mesothelioma?
The relative survival rate measures the survival of mesothelioma patients in comparison to the general population to estimate the effect of cancer. The overall 5-year relative mesothelioma survival rate for 1998-2002 was around 9 percent.
Below are the relative survival rates for each year following a mesothelioma diagnosis:
  • Year 1 survival rate: 39 percent
  • Year 2 survival rate: 20 percent
  • Year 3 survival rate: 11 percent
  • Year 4 survival rate: 10 percent
  • Year 5 survival rate: 9 percent.
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