Mesothelioma Claim

Overview

Malignant mesothelioma (me-zoe-thee-lee-O-muh) is a type of cancer that occurs in the thin layer of tissue that covers the majority of your internal organs (mesothelioma claim).

Mesothelioma is an aggressive and deadly form of cancer. mesothelioma claim treatments are available, but for many people with mesothelioma, a cure is not possible.

Doctors divide mesothelioma claim into different types based on what part of the mesothelium is affected. Mesothelioma most often affects the tissue that surrounds the lungs (pleura). This type is called pleural mesothelioma. Other, rarer types of mesothelioma affect tissue in the abdomen (peritoneal mesothelioma), around the heart and around the testicles.

Mesothelioma doesn’t include a form of noncancerous (benign) tumor that occurs in the chest and is sometimes called benign mesothelioma or solitary fibrous tumor.

Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of mesothelioma vary depending on where the cancer occurs.

Pleural mesothelioma, which affects the tissue that surrounds the lungs, causes signs and symptoms that may include:

  • Chest pain under the rib cage
  • Painful coughing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Unusual lumps of tissue under the skin on your chest
  • Unexplained weight loss

Peritoneal mesothelioma, which occurs in tissue in the abdomen, causes signs and symptoms that may include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Lumps of tissue in the abdomen
  • Unexplained weight loss

Other forms of mesothelioma

Signs and symptoms of other types of mesothelioma claim are unclear, since these forms of the disease are very rare.

Pericardial mesothelioma, which affects tissue that surrounds the heart, can cause signs and symptoms such as breathing difficulty and chest pains.

Mesothelioma of tunica vaginalis, which affects tissue surrounding the testicles, may be first detected as swelling or a mass on a testicle.

When to see a doctor

See your doctor if you have signs and symptoms that may indicate mesothelioma. Signs and symptoms of mesothelioma aren’t specific to this disease and, due to the rarity of mesothelioma, are more likely to be related to other conditions. If any persistent signs and symptoms seem unusual or bothersome, ask your doctor to evaluate them. Tell your doctor if you’ve been exposed to asbestos.

Causes

In general, cancer begins when a series of genetic mutations occur within a cell, causing the cell to grow and multiply out of control. It isn’t clear what causes the initial genetic mutations that lead to mesothelioma, though researchers have identified factors that may increase the risk. It’s likely that cancers form because of an interaction between many factors, such as inherited conditions, your environment, your health conditions and your lifestyle choices.

Risk factors

Asbestos exposure: The primary risk factor for mesothelioma

Asbestos is a mineral that’s found naturally in the environment. Asbestos fibers are strong and resistant to heat, making them useful in a wide variety of applications, such as in insulation, brakes, shingles, flooring and many other products.

When asbestos is broken up, such as during the mining process or when removing asbestos insulation, dust may be created. If the dust is inhaled or swallowed, the asbestos fibers will settle in the lungs or in the stomach, where they can cause irritation that may lead to mesothelioma. Exactly how this happens isn’t understood. It can take 20 to 40 years or more for mesothelioma to develop after asbestos exposure.

Most people with years of asbestos exposure never develop mesothelioma. And yet, others with very brief exposure develop the disease. This indicates that other factors may be involved in determining whether someone gets mesothelioma claim or doesn’t. For instance, you could inherit a predisposition to cancer or some other condition could increase your risk.

Risk factors

Factors that may increase the risk of mesothelioma include:

  • Personal history of asbestos exposure. If you’ve been directly exposed to asbestos fibers at work or at home, your risk of mesothelioma is greatly increased.
  • Living with someone who works with asbestos. People who are exposed to asbestos may carry the fibers home on their skin and clothing. Exposure to these stray fibers over many years can put others in the home at risk of mesothelioma. People who work with high levels of asbestos can reduce the risk of bringing home asbestos fibers by showering and changing clothes before leaving work.
  • A family history of mesothelioma. If your parent, sibling or child has mesothelioma, you may have an increased risk of this disease.

Complications

As pleural mesothelioma claim spreads in the chest, it puts pressure on the structures in that area. This can cause complications, such as:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Pain caused by pressure on the nerves and spinal cord
  • Accumulation of fluid in the chest (pleural effusion), which can compress the lung nearby and make breathing difficult

Prevention

Reducing your exposure to asbestos may lower your risk of mesothelioma.

Find out whether you work with asbestos

Most people with mesothelioma were exposed to the asbestos fibers at work. Workers who may encounter asbestos fibers include:

  • Miners
  • Factory workers
  • Insulation manufacturers
  • Ship builders
  • Construction workers
  • Auto mechanics

Ask your employer whether you have a risk of asbestos exposure on the job.

Follow your employer’s safety regulations

Follow all safety precautions in your workplace, such as wearing protective equipment. You may also be required to shower and change out of your work clothes before taking a lunch break or going home. Talk to your doctor about other precautions you can take to protect yourself from asbestos exposure.

Be safe around asbestos in your home

Older homes and buildings may contain asbestos. In many cases, it’s more dangerous to remove the asbestos than it is to leave it intact. Breaking up asbestos may cause fibers to become airborne, where they can be inhaled. Consult experts trained to detect asbestos in your home. These experts may test the air in your home to determine whether the asbestos is a risk to your health. Don’t attempt to remove asbestos from your home — hire a qualified expert. The Environmental Protection Agency offers advice on its website for dealing with asbestos in the home.

Mesothelioma Survival Rates

Mesothelioma Treatment:  Recovery, Side Effects, What to Expect

Mesothelioma Recovery Scenarios:

Recovery mesothelioma survival rates will begin after the very first procedure but may be staggered over several cycles since multimodality treatment for mesothelioma is now becoming the standard.

Since diagnostic procedures for mesothelioma tend to be highly invasive, it may also be necessary to undergo a period of recovery from operations like a thoracoscopy or laparoscopy. These procedures involve substantial surgery and a thoracoscopy may also involve palliative interventions like pleurodesis to reduce fluid production in the chest. Some protocols involve the administration of chemotherapy before surgery and some after. Chemotherapy is usually debilitating to some degree and may include a number of serious side-effects that could require the patient to rest and recover before further treatments are resumed.

Often, blood chemistry tests will reveal a serious decline in white or red blood cells or both, requiring interventions such as a blood transfusion or injections to boost blood cell production. Reduced white cell counts can lead to a suppressed immune system and a vulnerability to infection that may hold up additional treatments until the body recovers sufficiently.

Recovery Following Mesothelioma Surgery:

Recovery from mesothelioma and mesothelioma survival rates treatment surgery usually implies a short stay in the hospital to ensure that no infection has set in and that no internal bleeding or other complications have arisen. Depending upon the extent of the surgery, and the use of additional therapies like chest drains, a patient may be unable to shower or bathe until the incisions are sufficiently healed. Longer term use of the chest tube may invite infection or inflammation reactions at the incision site. These must be monitored for and treated quickly.

Mesothelioma Recovery: Physical Side Effects

  • Pain
  • Reduced blood counts
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Neurological issues
  • Bleeding and Clotting issues
  • Persistent Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Immune Suppression
  • Hair loss
  • Scarring/disfigurement

Mesothelioma Recovery: Social and Psychological Side Effects:

Emotional and psychological side effects following mesothelioma treatment include:

For the Patient:

  • Loss of self-worth/Self-Image
  • Embarrassment
  • Feeling helpless
  • Feeling burdensome
  • Loss of status via Loss of job
  • Depression/Anxiety
  • Loss of Libido
  • Fear of recurrence
  • Anger
  • Recrimination
  • Unhappiness

For the Caregiver

  • Frustration
  • Work overload

Mesotheliama

Malignant Mesothelioma Treatment (PDQ®)–Patient Version

Treatment Option Overview

Key Points

  • There are different types of treatment for patients with malignant mesothelioma.
  • Four types of standard treatment are used:
    • Surgery
    • Radiation therapy
    • Chemotherapy
    • Targeted therapy
  • New types of treatment are being tested in clinical trials.
    • Biologic therapy
  • Treatment for malignant mesothelioma may cause side effects.
  • Patients may want to think about taking part in a clinical trial.
  • Patients can enter clinical trials before, during, or after starting their cancer treatment.
  • Follow-up tests may be needed.

There are different types of treatment for patients with malignant mesothelioma.

Different types of treatments are available for patients with malignant mesothelioma. Some treatments are standard (the currently used treatment), and some are being tested in clinical trials. A treatment clinical trial is a research study meant to help improve current treatments or obtain information on new treatments for patients with cancer. When clinical trials show that a new treatment is better than the standard treatment, the new treatment may become the standard treatment. Patients may want to think about taking part in a clinical trial. Some clinical trials are open only to patients who have not started treatment.

Four types of standard treatment are used:

Surgery

The following surgical treatments may be used for malignant mesothelioma in the chest:

  • Wide local excision: Surgery to remove the cancer and some of the healthy tissue around it.
  • Pleurectomy and decortication: Surgery to remove part of the covering of the lungs and lining of the chest and part of the outside surface of the lungs.
  • Extrapleural pneumonectomy: Surgery to remove one whole lung and part of the lining of the chest, the diaphragm, and the lining of the sac around the heart.
  • Pleurodesis: A surgical procedure that uses chemicals or drugs to make a scar in the space between the layers of the pleura. Fluid is first drained from the space using a catheter or chest tube and the chemical or drug is put into the space. The scarring stops the build-up of fluid in the pleural cavity.

After the doctor removes all the cancer that can be seen at the time of the surgery, some patients may be given chemotherapy or radiation therapy after surgery to kill any cancer cells that are left. Treatment given after the surgery, to lower the risk that the cancer will come back, is called adjuvant therapy.

Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy is a cancer treatment that uses high-energy x-rays or other types of radiation to kill cancer cells or keep them from growing. There are two types of radiation therapy:

  • External radiation therapy uses a machine outside the body to send radiation toward the cancer.
  • Internal radiation therapy uses a radioactive substance sealed in needles, seeds, wires, or catheters that are placed directly into or near the cancer.

The way the radiation therapy is given depends on the type and stage of the cancer being treated. External radiation therapy is used to treat malignant mesothelioma, and may also be used as palliative therapy to relieve symptoms and improve quality of life.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is a cancer treatment that uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells, either by killing the cells or by stopping them from dividing. When chemotherapy is taken by mouth or injected into a vein or muscle, the drugs enter the bloodstream and can reach cancer cells throughout the body (systemic chemotherapy). When chemotherapy is placed directly into the cerebrospinal fluid, an organ, or a body cavity such as the chest or peritoneum, the drugs mainly affect cancer cells in those areas (regional chemotherapy). Combination chemotherapy is the use of more than one anticancer drug.

Hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy is used in the treatment of mesothelioma that has spread to the peritoneum (tissue that lines the abdomen and covers most of the organs in the abdomen). After the surgeon removes all the cancer that can be seen, a solution containing anticancer drugs is heated and pumped into and out of the abdomen to kill cancer cells that remain. Heating the anticancer drugs may kill more cancer cells.

The way the chemotherapy is given depends on the type and stage of the cancer being treated.

See Drugs Approved for Malignant Mesothelioma for more information.

Targeted therapy

Targeted therapy is a type of treatment that uses drugs or other substances to attack specific cancer cells. Targeted therapies usually cause less harm to normal cells than chemotherapy or radiation therapy do.

Monoclonal antibody therapy is a type of targeted therapy that uses antibodies made in the laboratory, from a single type of immune system cell. These antibodies can identify substances on cancer cells or normal substances that may help cancer cells grow. The antibodies attach to the substances and kill the cancer cells, block their growth, or keep them from spreading. Monoclonal antibodies are given by infusion. They may be used alone or to carry drugs, toxins, or radioactive material directly to cancer cells.

Bevacizumab is a monoclonal antibody used to treat advanced malignant mesothelioma. It binds to a protein called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). This may prevent the growth of new blood vessels that tumors need to grow. Other monoclonal antibodies are being studied in malignant mesothelioma.

Kinase inhibitors are a type of targeted therapy being studied in the treatment of malignant mesothelioma. Kinase inhibitors are targeted therapy drugs that block signals needed for tumors to grow.

New types of treatment are being tested in clinical trials.

This summary section describes treatments that are being studied in clinical trials. It may not mention every new treatment being studied. Information about clinical trials is available from the NCI website.

Biologic therapy

Biologic therapy is a treatment that uses the patient’s immune system to fight cancer. Substances made by the body or made in a laboratory are used to boost, direct, or restore the body’s natural defenses against cancer. This type of cancer treatment is also called biotherapy or immunotherapy.

Treatment for malignant mesothelioma may cause side effects.

For information about side effects caused by treatment for cancer, see our Side Effects page.

Patients may want to think about taking part in a clinical trial.

For some patients, taking part in a clinical trial may be the best treatment choice. Clinical trials are part of the cancer research process. Clinical trials are done to find out if new cancer treatments are safe and effective or better than the standard treatment.

Many of today’s standard treatments for cancer are based on earlier clinical trials. Patients who take part in a clinical trial may receive the standard treatment or be among the first to receive a new treatment.

Patients who take part in clinical trials also help improve the way cancer will be treated in the future. Even when clinical trials do not lead to effective new treatments, they often answer important questions and help move research forward.

Patients can enter clinical trials before, during, or after starting their cancer treatment.

Some clinical trials only include patients who have not yet received treatment. Other trials test treatments for patients whose cancer has not gotten better. There are also clinical trials that test new ways to stop cancer from recurring (coming back) or reduce the side effects of cancer treatment.

Clinical trials are taking place in many parts of the country. Information about clinical trials supported by NCI can be found on NCI’s clinical trials search webpage. Clinical trials supported by other organizations can be found on the ClinicalTrials.gov website.

Follow-up tests may be needed.

Some of the tests that were done to diagnose the cancer or to find out the stage of the cancer may be repeated. Some tests will be repeated in order to see how well the treatment is working. Decisions about whether to continue, change, or stop treatment may be based on the results of these tests.

Some of the tests will continue to be done from time to time after treatment has ended. The results of these tests can show if your condition has changed or if the cancer has recurred (come back). These tests are sometimes called follow-up tests or check-ups.