Pleural Mesothelioma

Pronounced: Plur-al mehz- oh-thel-ee- oh -ma

Definition

The pleura is a membrane. It lines the outside of the lungs and the inside of the chest. Pleural mesothelioma is cancer of the pleura.

Pleura of the Lungs

Pleura of the Lungs
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Causes    TOP

Cancer happens when cells in the body split without control or order. A mass of tissue can form when this happens. It is called a growth or tumor. The term cancer refers to malignant tumors. They can invade nearby tissue and spread to other parts of the body.

Mesothelioma is a type of cancer. It is almost always caused by being around asbestos. This is a loose mineral that is found in building materials and car parts. Even being around small amounts can raise your risk.

Risk Factors    TOP

Things that may raise your risk are:

  • Repeat exposure to asbestos, usually on the job
  • Living with a person who works near asbestos
  • Being around other hazardous fibers, such as erionite
  • Exposure to ionizing radiation

Symptoms    TOP

This cancer can take up to 40 years to happen. It may cause:

  • Problems breathing
  • Chest pain
  • Coughing
  • A lump in the chest wall
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Sweating

Diagnosis    TOP

You will be asked about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. You may be referred to a health expert. A pulmonologist treats the lungs. An oncologist treats cancer.

It can be hard to tell this apart from more common types of lung cancer.

You will have these tests:

  • Blood tests—may show chemicals made by the tumor
  • Exam of pleural fluid for tumor cells
  • Biopsy—needed to confirm the diagnosis

Pulmonary function tests may be done to see if your breathing is effected

Pictures may be taken. This can be done with:

These same tests and others may also be used to find out if cancer has spread outside the pleura. It is important to know whether and how far the cancer has spread in order to plan treatment. This step is called the staging process. It helps determine the level of treatment.

Treatment    TOP

Pleural mesothelioma is usually treated with a mix of:

  • Chemotherapy—drugs that kill cancer cells
  • Radiation therapy—radiation that kills cancer cells and shrinks tumors
  • Surgery—to remove the tumor and some tissue around it

Pleural fluid caused by the tumor will be removed. This is repeated as needed.

Prevention    TOP

The only known way to prevent this cancer is to avoid asbestos and hazardous fibers.

To avoid exposure:

  • Use safety equipment and precautions on the job.
  • Take steps to avoid bringing asbestos dust home on clothing.
  • Do not attempt to remove asbestos material that may be in your home. Hire a professional.

RESOURCES:

American Lung Association
http://www.lung.org
National Cancer Institute
http://www.cancer.gov

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Canadian Cancer Society
http://www.cancer.ca
Cancer Care Ontario
http://www.cancercare.on.ca

References:

Antunes G, Neville E, Duffy J, Ali N on behalf of the BTS Pleural Disease Group. BTS guidelines for the management of malignant pleural effusions. Thorax. 2003;58:ii29
Cugell DW, Kamp DW. Asbestos and the pleura: A review. Chest. 2004;125(3):1103-1117.
General information about malignant mesothelioma. National Cancer Institute website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated July 30, 2018. Accessed August 29, 2018.
Mesothelioma. American Lung Association website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Accessed August 29, 2018.
Malignant pleural mesothelioma. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116096/Mesothelioma. Updated January 2, 2018. Accessed August 29, 2018.
Last reviewed June 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review BoardDaniel A. Ostrovsky, MD
Last Updated: 8/29/2018

EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at healthlibrarysupport@ebsco.com. Our Health Library Support team will respond to your email request within 2 business days.