Mesothelioma is a very serious and often deadly type of cancer, but it is also relatively rare. This means that, while people know it's worth worrying about, they often do not fully understand the disease, its symptoms or the medical treatment options.
It's important to stay informed about this disease. With that in mind, here are a few common questions and answers.
What is mesothelioma?
It is a type of cancer that originates in your mesothelium. This membrane covers the majority of your organs, offering them protection. Mesothelioma destroys it and threatens the organs behind it.
Where does it start?
It can start in many places, but it is often near the lungs. Some cases impact the heart or the abdominal cavity. Most cases -- about 75% -- start in your chest cavity, in the pleural mesothelium.
Can it spread?
Yes. It can spread through the protective lining where it begins, and it can also damage the organs that lining surrounds. If it starts near the heart, for instance, the heart itself could eventually suffer damage as the cancer progresses. It is also possible for cancer to spread throughout your body, so you can wind up with other types of cancer -- lung cancer, for instance. This is especially true if treatment is delayed for any reason.
Can you diagnose it early?
You can, in some cases, but it is worth noting that a diagnosis usually happens only with advanced cases of this cancer. That is part of the reason that the fatality rate is so high; there is only a 5-10% survival rate for the next five years. The problem is that people may have been living with it for years, as it spread, without knowing it.
What are the symptoms?
You do see slightly different symptoms depending on exactly where the cancer begins. You may first notice that you start losing weight without trying. You may then have some pain in your abdomen, and you could notice some localized swelling. You could suffer from a fever and feel exhausted and sick.
In some cases, patients have bowel obstructions, anemia and blood clotting abnormalities. Your doctor may note more symptoms after you go in for a check up, when you simply noticed weight loss and generalized sickness, along with pain in the area.
If the cancer moves to other parts of the body, symptoms can change. If it spreads to the lungs, for instance, then you may start having trouble breathing or feeling pain when you do.
What are your rights in Tennessee?
A case like this can get very expensive for you and your family. You may have a right to financial compensation for your costs, and it's important to know how to proceed in Tennessee.