Mesothelioma

Cancer of the Lung Lining

Mesothelioma is a very rare form of lung cancer that arises in the mesothelium. The mesothelium is made up of parietal and visceral membranes, thin layers of tissue, which surround organs and body cavities, such as the lungs or abdomen. The visceral membrane immediately surrounds the organ, and the parietal membrane is a sac covering the visceral membrane. The visceral and parietal membranes make up the mesothelium.

This fluid helps organs move easily among surrounding structures. In the case of the lung, it helps reduce friction between the lung and chest wall during normal breathing as the lung expands.

The Mesothelium

The mesothelium is referred to by different names, depending on what part of the body it is found in. In the abdomen, it is called the peritoneum; in the lungs, the pleura, and in the heart, the pericardium. These correspond to peritoneal mesothelioma (cancer of the abdomen/stomach), pleural mesothelioma (cancer of the lung lining) and pericardial mesothelioma.

Symptoms of Mesothelioma Cancer

Mesothelioma cancer has usually progressed to a later stage in the disease before people notice symptoms significant enough to warrant a visit to the doctor. However, the most common initial symptoms of mesothelioma cancer are:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain

As the cancer progresses, other symptoms that may be present are:

  • Increased shortness of breath
  • Weight loss
  • Decreased appetite
  • Night sweats
  • Voice changes caused by local invasion of the tumor
  • Loss of diaphragm function

There are also symptoms specific to the type of mesothelioma that you have and where the cancer is located on your body.

Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma Cancer

Malignant Mesothelioma affecting the lungs is called pleural mesothelioma and the symptoms associated with this type of malignancy are due to accumulation of fluid within the pleura or the membrane that surrounds the lungs.

The symptoms of malignant pleural mesothelioma are:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain under the rib cage or chest
  • Mild to severe constant cough
  • Sudden weight loss

Malignant Peritonial Mesothelioma Cancer

Malignant peritonial mesothelioma is another type of malignancy which affects the internal lining or peritoneum of the intestine. Peritoneal mesothelioma has many symptoms which are similar to the symptoms of other diseases. So it is very difficult to diagnose malignant mesothelioma of the peritoneum.

The common symptoms are:

  • Abdominal swelling
  • Formation of tissue mass in the abdomen
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Nausea
  • Anemia
  • Mild or severe abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Constant fever (in extreme cases)

Malignant Pericardial Mesothelioma Cancer

Malignant pericardial mesothelioma affects the pericardium or the lining of the heart and causes fluid build-up between the tissues of the heart and the lining.

The symptoms generally seen in malignant pericardial mesothelioma patients are:

  • Mild to severe chest pain
  • Regular cough
  • Irregular heart beat
  • Breathing pattern irregularities
  • Constant fatigue

Sometimes the symptoms of malignant mesothelioma appear only when metastasis occurs. Metastasis is the condition in which the cancer has spread beyond the mesothelium to other parts of the body.

The main symptoms of metastatic mesothelioma cancer are:

  • General body pain
  • Difficulty in swallowing food
  • Inflammation of the neck or face