Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is an aggressive form of cancer. It almost always occurs in people exposed to asbestos in the workplace.

Mesothelioma is also rare. That’s why it’s important to seek care from doctors who have experience treating it. Most people don’t discover they have mesothelioma until it’s at an advanced stage, and a cure is no longer possible. But if you catch it early, you may benefit from treatment.

What is Mesothelioma?

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral. Its strong fibers are resistant to heat, electricity and certain chemicals. It's often used in building materials including insulation, ceiling tiles, shingles and flooring.

Sometimes during mining or construction, asbestos breaks apart. This creates a cloud of particles. When you breath in asbestos fibers, they can become trapped in your lungs. If these fibers damage cells in your body, you may develop a form of cancer called mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma usually starts in the protective tissue surrounding your lungs (called the pleura). This type of mesothelioma is known as pleural mesothelioma. In rare cases, mesothelioma can form inside your abdomen or tissue surrounding your heart.

Symptoms of pleural mesothelioma include:

  • Persistent, painful coughing
  • Coughing up bloody fluid
  • Difficulty breathing, including shortness of breath or wheezing
  • Chest pain, especially under the rib cage
  • Lumps that form under the skin on your chest
  • Unexplained weight loss

If you have any of these symptoms, see your doctor right away. You should also tell your doctor if you think you were exposed to asbestos—even if it was many years ago. It can take decades for mesothelioma to develop.

Pleural Mesothelioma Treatment at Mercy

Finding out you have cancer is frightening. And learning you have a rare cancer can be especially alarming. That’s why Mercy’s cancer team offers more than medical treatments. We’ll help you understand your condition and your options. That way, you can make thoughtful, well-informed decisions about your care.

Possible treatment of pleural mesothelioma may include:

  • Surgery to remove as much of the cancer as possible, or to remove a lung
  • Radiation therapy
  • Chemotherapy

Once pleural mesothelioma has spread within the chest, it's impossible to remove surgically. And chemotherapy or radiation alone cannot effectively treat it. If your cancer is advanced, you and your doctor will discuss treatments to keep you comfortable.

Clinical Trials for Mesothelioma

You may also want to consider participating in a clinical trial, which allows patients to test new therapies that are not yet widely available. Your care team can help you find mesothelioma clinical trials offered by Mercy or research organizations like Cancer Research for the Ozarks. Your caregivers can also help you understand the benefits and risks of participating in a clinical trial.

At Mercy, we don’t just care for you, we care about you. We understand that for many people with mesothelioma, treatment options are limited. Even though we can’t always offer a cure, we can provide care and support to ease your symptoms.

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