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What is Pleural Mesothelioma?

Linked to asbestos exposure, pleural mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer. Of the three main types of mesothelioma – pleural, peritoneal, and pericardial – pleural mesothelioma is the most common, occurring in around 2,500 cases a year in the United States.

In What Part of the Body Does Pleural Mesothelioma Occur?

Mesothelioma gets its name because it develops in the mesothelium, a membrane that lines many of the body’s organs. In the case of pleural mesothelioma, the disease develops in the pleura, a sheet like lining that surrounds the lungs.

As the disease develops around the lungs, fluid can enter the space, causing intense pain, shortness of breath and overwhelming fatigue.

Symptoms of Pleural Mesothelioma

Please note that mesothelioma has a long latency period. Because of this, symptoms often do not appear until 25-50 years after asbestos exposure occurs. And often the disease is not detected until it is in a later stage. If you suspect that you may be experiencing any symptoms associated with mesothelioma, contact your healthcare professional immediately.

In specific relation to pleural mesothelioma, symptoms are related to the expansion of the tumor and fluid in the chest cavity, which can compromise lung function. Other common symptoms include:

  • Sleep disturbance
  • Loss of appetite
  • Chest Pain
  • Shortness of breath

 

What makes this type of mesothelioma so hard to diagnose is that many of these symptoms are associated with a number of other illnesses. For a more complete listing of symptoms, see our Pleural Mesothelioma Symptoms Page. Or contact the Meso Foundation’s experts for help.

Pleural Mesothelioma Treatment Options

Treatment options can vary depending on the staging of the disease, however, the three most common options include:

  • Pleural Mesothelioma Surgery: Forming in the pleura, which is the protective lining surrounding the lungs, pleura mesothelioma is shielded by the rib cage - meaning that reaching it through surgery can require invasively cutting through bone
  • Chemotherapy Treatment: When used in the treatment of pleural mesothelioma, chemotherapy is generally not viewed as curative. Instead, studies suggest that chemotherapy treatments result in reducing tumors and extending life. Chemotherapy has also been shown to palliate symptoms, including the improvement of shortness of breath, reduction of ascites or effusions, and reduction of pain.
  • Radiation Treatment for Pleural Mesothelioma: Radiation has proved to be useful as an adjuvant to surgical treatments, with extended survivals reported in large tertiary centers