Peritoneal mesothelioma and pleural mesothelioma are relatively rare forms of cancer that are found in people who have been exposed to asbestos. As mesothelioma begins to spread over the surface of the lung it secretes a clear fluid that slowly collapses the chest. Patients then begin to experience shortness of breath and as the tumor grows they also begin to experience chest pain.
In the U.S. there are somewhere between 2,000 and 3,000 new cases of peritoneal and pleural mesothelioma diagnosed each year. It affects the cells in the lining of the lungs (mesothelial cells). There are three types of mesothelioma – epithelial, sarcomatous, and a mixed type. The sarcomatous and mixed types spread quickly, so treatments such as surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation tend to work better on epithelial mesothelioma.
Since mesothelioma cancer spreads quickly, it is important to diagnose and begin mesothelioma treatment as soon as possible.
Mesothelioma Staging System
There is a Staging System used to classify mesothelioma patients and assess the best mesothelioma treatment for their particular stage of cancer:
- Stage 1 – the tumor is confined to the lung and has not reached the lymph nodes.
- Stage 2 – the tumor moves to the lymph nodes.
- Stage 3 – the tumor reaches the abdomen, the heart, or the other side of the chest.
- Stage 4 – the cancer makes its way into the bloodstream. This is very rare.
Surgery is usually only possible with Stage 1 and 2 patients.
Surgical Mesothelioma Treatment
There are several types of surgery that can be performed on pleural mesothelioma patients:
- The first is called pleurodesis, which involves draining the fluid from the lungs and applying talcum powder or some other material that causes the lung to scar and adhere to the chest wall. This prevents the lung from collapsing when the fluid begins to build up again.
- The second type of surgery is called a pleurectomy; in this surgery the chest is opened and the tumor is removed from the lung.
- The third type of surgery is called an extrapleural pneumonectomy, and involves the removal of the lung, the diaphragm, and the covering of the heart. The heart covering and diaphragm are then replaced with gortex.
For people diagnosed with the more rare peritoneal mesothelioma, there is one surgical mesothelioma treatment available.
- A surgery that removes the lining of the abdomen called a peritonectomy can only be performed in the earliest stages of the peritoneal mesothelioma. This is a risky procedure for mesothelioma treatment involving the removal of all, or a large portion of the peritoneum to rid the body of cancer tissue.
Following surgery, the patient will undergo chemotherapy and then radiation therapy mesothelioma treatment in an attempt to destroy any remaining cancer cells.
Pleural and Peritoneal Mesothelioma Life Expectancy
Prognosis for malignant mesothelioma is still considered poor, but it is improving. There was a time when mesothelioma patients were not expected to survive for very long. Now, if
Stage 1 patients receive prompt and aggressive mesothelioma treatment, approximately 50% of them will live another five years.
Stage 2 patients can expect to live another two to four years.
Stage 3 patients have a life expectancy of six to eight months
Stage 4 patients it is even less.
This information is meant to provide a brief overview of mesothelioma surgery. It is important that you consult a physician to discuss treatment specific to your case.