Mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer which predominantly affects the lining of the lungs (pleural mesothelioma) and in less common instances affects the lining of the abdomen (peritoneal mesothelioma) and the heart (pericardial mesothelioma).

In the vast majority of cases mesothelioma is caused through inhalation of asbestos dust with symptoms normally presenting themselves many years later, between 10 – 50 years.

We understand the emotional and practical issues faced by families and friends when someone is under investigation, suffering from or has passed away from this condition. A member of our experienced helpline team is waiting to talk with you to offer practical help and support.

Pleural Mesothelioma

Shortage of breath and a heavy feeling within the chest area

Tiredness

Coughing

Unexplained weight loss

Loss of appetite

Heavy sweating

Build-up of fluid around lungs (pleural effusion)

 

In peritoneal mesothelioma cases;

Swelling or fluid build up in the abdomen

Nausea and vomiting

Unexplained weight loss

Mesothelioma is caused by inhalation of asbestos dust and fibres which become trapped in the lungs due to their sharp and often jagged appearance. Over time the fibres lead to cancerous changes within the protective membranes which cover the lungs, abdomen and heart.

It is important you discuss any health concerns with your GP at the earliest opportunity. Your GP will undertake a physical examination and discuss with you the basis of your concern and it is important you outline details of your earlier exposure to asbestos.

Mesothelioma is often difficult to diagnose and a number of diagnostic investigations can be carried out which might include,

Chest x-ray

Chest x-rays in many cases will highlight a pleural effusion (fluid build-up) or pleural thickening and wherever possible these will be compared with previous images. In appropriate cases referral will be made to a chest physician.

CT Scan (computerised tomography)

Essential to any diagnosis of mesothelioma will be a CT Scan of the pleura (lining of the lung) which is a painless process involving a series of x-rays which produce a 3D image. A CT Scan can help differentiate malignant from benign disease and will provide reliable information as to whether you have mesothelioma or not and how advanced your condition might be. The result of the CT Scan is not always conclusive and further investigation is often necessary.

Biopsy

This involves obtaining a sample of fluid or tissue which will confirm the type of mesothelioma. There are different types of biopsy which include,

Pleural fluid aspiration – Generally under local anaesthetic and following an ultrasound scan a thin needle will be entered into the pleural space around your lungs in order to draw off a sample of the fluid with the aid of a syringe. The sample will be tested in a laboratory albeit studies have concluded there is only limited diagnostic value with results often unreliable or inconclusive. If the extent of fluid (pleural effusion) is causing breathlessness it might be necessary to drain the fluid.

Histopathological (biopsy of lung tissue) – In conjunction with any radiological and surgical findings histopathology of mesothelioma provides a conclusive diagnosis. Obtaining a lung biopsy is normally obtained under local anaesthetic and involves passing a needle through the chest wall into the lung lining to obtain a tissue sample.

Thoracoscopy (also known as VATS – video assisted thorascopic surgery) – This is the preferred and most reliable method of biopsy performed under local anaesthetic which involves the use of an instrument known as a thoracoscope which is a lighted scope and camera. The thoracoscope is entered into the pleural spaces around the lungs via a small incision in the chest which enables targeting of tissue biopsies and removal of fluid. During this procedure after fluid has been removed an opportunity exists to insert sterile talc into the pleural spaces which closes the linings around the lung and prevents further build-up of fluid. This talcing procedure is known as pleurodesis.

Malignant mesothelioma is an incurable condition which can be very difficult to treat when it is in an advanced state and as such most treatments are aimed at relieving symptoms and controlling the cancer to extend a quality life for as long as possible. Common to this type of mesothelioma is a build-up of fluid around the lung which is known as a pleural effusion the existence of which can cause breathlessness. This fluid can be drained to relieve symptoms and prevented from return by a process known as pleurodesis which involves insertion of a sterile talc into the pleural spaces closing the linings around the lung.

Treatment for pleural mesothelioma is similar to that in other types of cancer and will be dependent upon various factors such as the stage of the mesothelioma and the general health and fitness of the person affected.

Treatments include,

Drugs

A range of drugs and clinical trials are being tested and evaluated in the treatment of mesothelioma most of which are conducted in America.

Surgery

Two main types of surgery are provided – Pleurectomy/decortication (P/D) involves removal of visible tumours by removal of the pleural lining around the lung leaving the lungs in tact. This form of surgery provides for a quicker recovery with less complications.

Extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP) surgery involves removal of the entire affected lung, the lining around the lung and part of the diaphragm. Albeit drastic surgery with associated risks recovery can offer an extended life living with only one lung.

Chemotherapy

The type of chemotherapy offered will depend upon the type of cancer being treated. Most treatments are provided as an outpatient at a hospital or clinic where anti-cancer drugs are administered by cancer nurses. Chemotherapy drugs can be injected into a vein or through a drip or be in the form of tablet or capsule and are designed to kill cancer cells and prevent them from multiplying

Radiotherapy

This treatment uses pulses of radiation to destroy abnormal or cancer cells. Radiotherapy might also be used following surgical excision of a cancerous tumour to destroy any remaining tumour cells and to slow down the spread of cancer when a cure is not possible (palliative radiotherapy).

Palliative surgery

Surgical procedures designed to reduce pain and symptoms can help to provide a better quality of life and are options to those who find themselves unable to cope with other treatments. One common problem with mesothelioma is breathing which is made difficult by fluid build-up in the lungs.

Two main procedures are offered. Thoracentesis (also known as pleurocentesis and pleural tap) involves drawing fluid off the lungs by means of a long thin needle under local anaesthetic. This procedure can lead to improved breathing and alleviate pain. Pleurodesis involves the injection of sterile talc into the pleural spaces which closes the linings around the lung and prevents further build-up of fluid.

The general outlook for mesothelioma, like other forms of cancer, depends upon how advanced the condition is. When considering the likely outcome, any treatment plan, chances of recovery and survival rate a Doctor will rely upon statistical averages which will vary from patient to patient and not take account of any one patient.

There are two main types of mesothelioma, pleural mesothelioma and peritoneal mesothelioma and sadly with both conditions there is too often a poor outcome brought about by the late diagnosis in an advanced form. The average survival period from diagnosis in both conditions is estimated to be about 12 – 18 months. However, ‘Mesothelioma Specialists’ operating in cancer centres throughout the world are more inclined to provide more optimistic statistics brought about by their up to date and specialist knowledge from studies and clinical trials.

It is generally accepted surgery can extend life expectancy as too can other factors such as the age, state of health of the sufferer, the cell type and stage of the mesothelioma. There are three primary mesothelioma cell types which include, sarcomatoid cells (sarcomatoid mesothelioma), epithelial cells (epithelioid mesothelioma) and biphasic cells (biphasic mesothelioma) all of which have similar treatment processes but with different survival rates. Epithelioid mesothelioma is the most common type of asbestos cancer with epitheliol cells commonly found in pleural mesothelioma rather than peritoneal mesothelioma. Treatment of epithelioid mesothelioma offers the best prognosis because this cell type responds best to treatment which might include surgery followed by chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy.

People in good health tend to respond better to cancer treatment and eating a balanced, nutritious diet rich in vegetables, fruit and low in sugar will help improve immune function. Reducing stress levels and getting quality rest and sleep can also help in recovery from surgery.

Clinical trials are part of an ongoing process to improve treatments and life expectancy which you are encouraged to discuss with your Doctor. Unfortunately all types of mesothelioma are difficult to treat and in many cases sufferers must rely on palliative care to treat symptoms and relieve pain.

It is generally accepted surgery can improve life expectancy as too can other factors such as the age and state of health of the sufferer, the cell type and stage of the mesothelioma.

There are three primary mesothelioma cell types which include, sarcomatoid cells (sarcomatoid mesothelioma), epithelial cells (epithelioid mesothelioma) and biphasic cells (biphasic mesothelioma) all of which have similar treatment processes but with different survival rates. Epithelioid mesothelioma is the most common type of asbestos cancer with epitheliol cells commonly found in pleural mesothelioma rather than peritoneal mesothelioma. Treatment of epithelioid mesothelioma offers the best prognosis because this cell type responds best to treatment which might include surgery followed by chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy.

People in good health tend to respond better to cancer treatment and eating a balanced, nutritious diet rich in vegetables and fruit and low in sugar will help improve immune function. Reducing stress levels and getting quality rest and sleep can also help in recovery from surgery.

Clinical trials form an important part of an ongoing process to improve treatments, drugs and life expectancy which you are encouraged to discuss with your Doctor. Participation in a mesothelioma clinical trial could be a consideration if conventional therapies have been unsuccessful thereby offering further hope to sufferers whilst providing doctors and researchers with valuable information and feedback. Further information regarding clinical trials in the UK can be found at, http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/mesothelioma/Pages/clinical-trial.aspx and further worldwide information can be obtained at, http://apps.who.int/trialsearch/.

Unfortunately all types of mesothelioma are difficult to treat and in many cases sufferers must rely on palliative care to treat symptoms and relieve pain.

Peritoneal Mesothelioma

This is an aggressive form of cancer which affects the linings of abdominal organs such as the stomach and intestines. Whilst associated to asbestos exposure there is a common belief that it is caused by ingesting asbestos fibres which enter the abdominal cavity through the lymph nodes. Commonly asbestos fibres are inhaled into the lungs but the existence of asbestos fibres anywhere in the body can put a person at risk.

We understand the emotional and practical issues faced by families and friends when someone is under investigation, suffering from or has passed away from this condition. A member of our experienced helpline team is waiting to talk with you to offer practical help and support.

Swelling in the stomach (abdomen)
Loss of appetite
Weight loss
Feeling sick
Changes to your normal bowel pattern (ie. Constipation or diarrhoea)

Peritoneal mesothelioma is caused by exposure to asbestos fibres which enter the abdomen and become lodged in the peritoneum (lining of abdominal cavity) due to their sharp and often jagged appearance. Over time they become inflamed which leads to the growth of cancerous cells.

Asbestos fibres enter the body through inhalation and travel within the lymphatic system albeit there is a growing belief swallowing asbestos could also be the main cause.

It is important you discuss any health concerns with your GP at the earliest opportunity. Your GP will undertake a physical examination and discuss with you the basis of your concern and it is important you outline details of your earlier exposure to asbestos.

Common to pleural mesothelioma the diagnostic process involves,

  • X-ray
  • CT Scan
  • Biopsy

Peritoneal mesothelioma can be a difficult cancer to diagnose. Treatment options available depend upon several factors:

  • The stage of the cancer
  • Existence of any other medical or health conditions
  • General fitness of sufferer

Treatments include:

Major surgery
known as ‘peritonectomy’ involves removing part of the lining of the abdomen in order to reduce symptoms. Another procedure known as cytoreductive surgery is used during total peritonectomy where as much of the tumour is removed followed by a heated chemotherapy treatment (hyperthermic intraoperative intraperitoneal chemotherapy – HIIC) which is directed into the peritoneal cavity.

Chemotherapy treatment as an out-patient might also be offered with the aim of shrinking the cancer and involves drugs administered by injection into a vein or when complimentary to surgery by means of a catheter fed into the abdomen through an incision on the stomach.

Palliative care will be offered by a palliative care team in those instances where chemotherapy treatment is not possible due to illness and is unlikely to affect any pain relief treatment for symptoms for weight loss and build-up of abdominal fluid. Abdominal fluid can be drained from the abdomen using an ascetic tap.

The general outlook for mesothelioma, like other forms of cancer, depends upon how advanced the condition is. When considering the likely outcome, any treatment plan, chances of recovery and survival rate a Doctor will rely upon statistical averages which will vary from patient to patient and not take account of any one patient.

There are two main types of mesothelioma, pleural mesothelioma and peritoneal mesothelioma and sadly with both conditions there is too often a poor outcome brought about by the late diagnosis which often is in an advanced form. The average survival period from diagnosis for both conditions is estimated to be about 12 – 18 months.  However, ‘Mesothelioma Specialists’ operating in cancer centres throughout the world are more inclined to provide more optimistic statistics brought about by their up to date and specialist knowledge from studies and clinical trials.

It is generally accepted surgery can improve life expectancy as too can other factors such as the age and state of health of the sufferer, the cell type and stage of the mesothelioma.  There are three primary mesothelioma cell types which include, sarcomatoid cells (sarcomatoid mesothelioma), epithelial cells (epithelioid mesothelioma) and biphasic cells (biphasic mesothelioma) all of which have similar treatment processes but with different survival rates. Epithelioid mesothelioma is the most common type of asbestos cancer with epitheliol cells commonly found in pleural mesothelioma rather than peritoneal mesothelioma. Treatment of epithelioid mesothelioma offers the best prognosis because this cell type responds best to treatment which might include surgery followed by chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy.

People in good health tend to respond better to cancer treatment and eating a balanced, nutritious diet rich in vegetables and fruit and low in sugar will help improve immune function. Reducing stress levels and getting quality rest and sleep can also help in recovery from surgery.

Clinical trials are part of an ongoing process to improve treatments and life expectancy which you are encouraged to discuss with your Doctor. Unfortunately all types of mesothelioma are difficult to treat and in many cases sufferers must rely on palliative care to treat symptoms and relieve pain.

It is generally accepted surgery can improve life expectancy as too can other factors such as the age and state of health of the sufferer, the cell type and stage of the mesothelioma.

There are three primary mesothelioma cell types which include, sarcomatoid cells (sarcomatoid mesothelioma), epithelial cells (epithelioid mesothelioma) and biphasic cells (biphasic mesothelioma) all of which have similar treatment processes but with different survival rates. Epithelioid mesothelioma is the most common type of asbestos cancer with epitheliol cells commonly found in pleural mesothelioma rather than peritoneal mesothelioma. Treatment of epithelioid mesothelioma offers the best prognosis because this cell type responds best to treatment which might include surgery followed by chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy.

People in good health tend to respond better to cancer treatment and eating a balanced, nutritious diet rich in vegetables and fruit and low in sugar will help improve immune function. Reducing stress levels and getting quality rest and sleep can also help in recovery from surgery.

Clinical trials form an important part of an ongoing process to improve treatments, drugs and life expectancy which you are encouraged to discuss with your Doctor. Participation in a mesothelioma clinical trial could be a consideration if conventional therapies have been unsuccessful thereby offering further hope to sufferers whilst providing doctors and researchers with valuable information and feedback. Further information regarding clinical trials in the UK can be found at, http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/mesothelioma/Pages/clinical-trial.aspx and further worldwide information can be obtained at, http://apps.who.int/trialsearch/.

Unfortunately all types of mesothelioma are difficult to treat and in many cases sufferers must rely on palliative care to treat symptoms and relieve pain.

What should I do if I have been diagnosed  with pleural or peritoneal mesothelioma or I am under investigation for this or some other lung disease?

You should remain positive throughout any treatments or investigation and contact us without further delay so we might understand more about your situation which will help us to assess your eligibility to compensation and benefits.

Our solicitors can deal with your enquiry even if you were employed or exposed to asbestos in England, Ireland or Wales

Call us today for free on:

0808 164 7740

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