Pleural mesothelioma is a rare and deadly form of cancer. It develops in the lining of the lungs and starts with little warning, typically 20-50 years after someone was first exposed to asbestos fibers. Though there is no cure for pleural mesothelioma, treatments are available to keep patients alive and reduce their symptoms.
What is Pleural Mesothelioma?
Pleural mesothelioma is the most common form of the disease by far. 75% of all mesothelioma patients have this type. Though it has no cure, you can take steps to fight this disease.
The only known cause of pleural mesothelioma is asbestos exposure. Asbestos was commonly used in construction materials and other products in the mid-20th century.
However, when these products break down, they released asbestos fibers into the air. Humans can inhale these fibers and develop cancers, like mesothelioma, later on.
Patients with mesothelioma usually experience chest pain, trouble breathing, and a nagging cough among other symptoms. These symptoms get worse over time.
Treatments from a specialized mesothelioma doctor can help patients live longer. The most effective treatment plan combines surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. However, these treatments can be very expensive.
To ensure that you can get the treatment you need, you should work with an experienced mesothelioma law firm. Sokolove Law is a mesothelioma law firm that can help you receive compensation through a legal claim. Call (800) 647-3434 or contact us today to learn more.
What Causes Pleural Mesothelioma?
Pleural mesothelioma is caused when humans inhale asbestos fibers. Asbestos fibers are so durable that the human body cannot break them down. In the case of pleural mesothelioma, these fibers get stuck in the pleura, which is the lining of the lungs.
The asbestos fibers cause:
- Inflammation of the pleura
- Irritation and scarring of tissue
- Pleural effusions (fluid buildup inside the pleura)
Over time, this damage eventually mutates cells and causes pleural mesothelioma. It normally takes 20-50 years for mesothelioma to develop.
Companies that manufactured asbestos-containing products knew these health risks before the general public did. However, they continued to sell their goods without warning.
Because the makers of asbestos products are to blame for your mesothelioma, you can receive compensation from them. The best way to do this is by filing a legal claim with a mesothelioma law firm.
Sokolove Law is a mesothelioma law firm with over 4 decades of experience. Contact us today to see how we can help you.
Symptoms of Pleural Mesothelioma
As pleural mesothelioma damages the lung lining, some notable symptoms appear. In the first stages of pleural mesothelioma, the symptoms are mild.
Common symptoms include:
- Chest pain
- Chronic cough
- Trouble breathing
- Weight loss
The early symptoms may be mistaken for those of other illnesses, such as bronchitis, pneumonia, or a chest infection. This makes the disease hard to catch and treat early on. Since mesothelioma is such a rare disease, many doctors only see 1-2 cases in their career. Make sure to share your history of asbestos exposure with your doctor. This can help them factor in mesothelioma as a possible cause of your symptoms.
The symptoms of mesothelioma will worsen over time. More serious symptoms will also appear as the cancer spreads to other sites on the body.
Later symptoms include:
- Coughing up blood
- Fever and night sweats
- Fluid buildup in the lungs
- Lumps under the skin of the chest
Diagnosing Pleural Mesothelioma
Pleural mesothelioma is diagnosed through a series of tests. The goal of these tests is to accurately determine the cause of your symptoms. It is very important to receive an accurate diagnosis because mesothelioma can spread quickly if it is not caught early on.
The first test is a physical examination. Here, doctors will listen to a patient’s breathing and check for fluid buildup. If the doctor suspects this fluid buildup is from cancer, they will order a series of imaging tests.
These tests include:
- Chest X-rays
- CT scans
- PET scans
These tests allow doctors to see inside the chest and check for any suspicious masses.
Your doctor may also order a blood test. A blood test analyzes certain substances in your blood, which may correlate to mesothelioma.
All of these tests are helpful in narrowing down the cause of symptoms and ruling out other conditions. However, the only way to confirm if you have mesothelioma is through a biopsy.
During a biopsy, a doctor will take a small sample of tissue or fluid from your body. They will then analyze the sample in a laboratory to see if cancer cells are present. From there, they will formally make a diagnosis.
Did You Know?
Because the symptoms of pleural mesothelioma can easily be misdiagnosed, you should let your doctor know if you were exposed to asbestos at any point. This can help them rule out other, more common diseases.
Staging of Pleural Mesothelioma
Pleural mesothelioma is the only type of mesothelioma that is broken into stages. There are 4 stages which track how far the disease has spread.
Doctors will tell you what stage your cancer is in at the time of diagnosis. The staging system is very helpful because it allows you and your medical team to pursue the best treatments for your case.
The 4 stages are:
In this stage, the cancer is contained to one side of the pleura. It may be starting to spread through the pleura, but it has not begun to spread to other sites of the body. Mesothelioma caught in this stage is easier to treat, as it is contained to one area.
By this stage, the cancer has started to spread to the walls of the chest or the diaphragm. Major treatments like surgery may still be effective even though the cancer has begun to spread.
Here, the cancer has spread to other organ sites, such as the chest, pericardium, and the lymph nodes. Treatments in this stage focus on easing symptoms, but some patients may be healthy enough for larger surgeries.
In the final stage, the cancer has spread to distant sites throughout the body. This may include the other side of the chest and the peritoneum. The goal of treatments for this stage is typically to keep the patient comfortable.
No matter the stage, there are treatment options available to help better your quality of life.
Treatments for Pleural Mesothelioma
Treatments for pleural mesothelioma include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. These treatments may increase your lifespan by months or even years. All treatments for pleural mesothelioma should be performed by cancer specialists.
Surgeries for pleural mesothelioma remove as much of the cancer as possible, slowing down its progression.
Surgeries for pleural mesothelioma include:
- Extrapleural Pneumonectomy (EPP): EPP removes the pleura, the lung closest to the cancer, and the lining of the heart. Parts of the chest wall and diaphragm may also be removed if the cancer has spread to them.
- Pneumonectomy with Decortication (P/D): P/D removes the diseased pleura, but spares the lung closest to the cancerous tumor. If the cancer has spread, it will be removed from other areas as well.
Chemotherapy allows cancer-killing drugs to circulate throughout the body. Nearly all pleural mesothelioma patients will receive some form of chemotherapy during treatment.
Chemotherapy is administered in several rounds over a few weeks. In the process, it reduces the size of mesothelioma tumors and eases the associated symptoms.
When a patient undergoes radiation treatment, cancer tumors will be exposed to rays of energy. These rays are painless to humans, but they disrupt the DNA of cancer cells. This disruption prevents the cells from growing and shrinks existing tumors.
Doctors will target specific parts of the tumor to minimize the effect of radiation on healthy cells. Radiation is usually used alongside other forms of treatment.
Ideally, a combination of all 3 treatments will be used when treating mesothelioma. Combining treatments may drastically improve your life expectancy. However, these treatments can be hard to afford for many families. This is especially true if a loved one has stopped working to provide at-home care.
Getting Help for Pleural Mesothelioma
A pleural mesothelioma diagnosis can be very stressful for families. The shock of a diagnosis and the associated costs of treatment can bring problems without easy answers.
There are ways that you can get help, though. To ensure your loved one gets the best medical care, they should seek care from a mesothelioma doctor. These medical specialists know how to properly treat mesothelioma and increase their patients’ lifespans.
Though treatments may be expensive, your family can afford them by pursuing a legal claim. Legal claims target the makers of asbestos products, whose negligence caused thousands of people to develop mesothelioma.
U.S. Courts have ordered these negligent companies to set aside billions of dollars for the victims of asbestos exposure. A legal claim can help you access the funds and award your family with compensation.
Sokolove Law has helped thousands of mesothelioma victims access asbestos trust funds. Our firm has over 40 years of experience in pursuing legal claims against major companies.
Call (800) 647-3434 or contact us to speak with a case manager. They can help determine if you can file a legal claim.