Mesothelioma is a cancerous tumor of the lining of the lung and chest cavity or the area called the pleura. It can either be benign or malignant and is typically due to long-term asbestos exposure. This type of cancer is very rare with only about 3,000 people a year diagnosed in the United States. According to David Rice, MD of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX, “There isnít a lot of evidence-based science in this disease.” Today, there is no reliable cure for this disease.
Nonmalignant mesothelioma affects more men than women and approximately half of the persons with this disease do not show any symptoms. It is only when the tumor grows in size that it pushes on the lung and caused shortness of breath. Other symptoms may include chest pain and chronic cough. The tumor is usually found by accident when a chest x-ray is done for other reasons, but it can also be detected by CT scan of the chest and open lung biopsy. Patients with mesothelioma have the options of curative or palliative treatments to extend survival. Conventional treatments include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy.
The major goal of treatment is to reduce pain and suffering and prolong the patientís life while providing the highest quality of life possible. Before undergoing mesothelioma treatment, it is important to explore the various treatment options available to be informed of the risks and benefits before making the final decision.