Monday, June 22, 2009

Signs and symptoms of Mesothelioma

Symptoms of mesothelioma are hard to confirm and more over they may not appear until 15-30 years after exposure to asbestos. Common symptoms of mesothelioma are

1) Shortness of breath

2) Pain in chest etc

3) Anemia

4) Fatigue

5) Hoarseness

6) Cough

7) Blood in sputum coughed up

Symptoms also include weight loss, abdominal swelling etc. In very severe cases, the person may have tumor masses. As such mesothelioma is hard to diagnose. Helen Davies, specialist registrar and research fellow at Oxford says, "Pleural effusion, or the accumulation of fluid in the pleural cavity, can be maddeningly difficult to diagnose as a wide variety of malignant and benign causes exist". One of the causes, malignant pleural mesothelioma, is a relatively rare cancer, but its incidence is rapidly increasing on a global scale.

The first test for mesothelioma in patients with a pleural effusion is pleural fluid cytology, but it is not very sensitive. Obtaining a prompt diagnosis of mesothelioma has benefits for patients and physicians alike. Because mesothelioma has a median survival time of 12 months, minimizing the number of invasive procedures and tests patients require is crucial to reduce morbidity and the time they need to spend in hospital, says Davies. An earlier diagnosis also allows speedier interventions to relieve symptoms as well as initiation of other treatments such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy if appropriate.

Exposure to asbestos is the main risk factor and accounts for the majority of mesothelioma cases. Legislation to prevent occupational exposure to asbestos has been enforced in the developed world; however, unrestricted contact continues in developing countries.

Over 90 percent of patients with mesothelioma present with a pleural effusion and its incidence is predicted to peak within the next two decades. Mesothelioma treatment is one of the highly researched activities in medicine.