The Most Prevalent Type
Pleural mesothelioma is far and away the most common type of malignant mesothelioma. As its name indicates, it is a cancer that originates in the pleura. The pleura are two thin membranes, the visceral and parietal. The visceral pleura covers the lung, and the parietal pleura lines the chest wall. The pleura are critical to protecting the lungs. The pleura also produce a very important fluid that allows the lungs to move smoothly along your chest as you breathe.
Pleural mesothelioma causes the cells of the pleura to grow widely and spread rapidly. These malignant cells produce pleural effusions, which are excessive amounts of fluid. As this fluid builds up between the two layers of the pleura, it presses on the lungs often cause pain, discomfort, and difficulty breathing.
The growth of a pleural mesothelioma has a tendency to encase the lung by forming a rind-like thickness, (often greyish-white). It surrounds the lung tissue and often invades it. The tumor prevents the lung from moving smoothly in the chest. As a result, victims experience a progressive and severe shortness of breath. They also suffer from serious chest pain. As the cancer progresses, it often grows into the chest wall and ribs. It also routinely spreads and metastasizes into the unaffected lung and into other organs.
Symptoms of Pleural Mesothelioma
The symptoms can include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Weight loss
- Persistent, unexplained cough
- Spitting up blood
- Difficulty swallowing
- A hoarse voice
Most Prevalent in Men
Pleural mesotheliomas account for approximately 70% of all diagnosed mesothelioma cases. A pleural mesothelioma, like most mesotheliomas, are more prevalent in men. This type of cancer is five times more likely to affect men than women. Although it is the most common type of mesothelioma, it must be emphasized that pleural mesothelioma is a still a relatively rare disease. It can be very difficult to diagnose. Specifically, it is often difficult to distinguish between mesothelioma and lung cancer, which of course is a much more common and understood form of cancer.
History of Asbestos Exposure
Once diagnosed with mesothelioma, it is important to look not into whether there is a history of asbestos exposure somewhere in the family. A father’s work from decades ago could afflict him with pleural mesothelioma or result in a family member contracting the disease. It is absolutely critical to go to the doctor immediately if you experience any of the symptoms of pleural mesothelioma. It is also important for diagnostic purposes that you inform your physician that you have been exposed to asbestos in the past so that he or she is knowledgeable that you are at risk for pleural mesothelioma.