Posts Tagged ‘diagnosed with mesothelioma’

Diagnosed with Mesothelioma?

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

Most people who are diagnosed with mesothelioma have gone to the doctor because of troubling or persistant symptoms. If the doctor suspects that a patient has mesothelioma, he or she will use certain tests to determine with certainty whether mesothelioma is actually present.

Symptoms of mesothelioma can easily be mistaken for symptoms of other illnesses, especially early on. As a result, many people are not diagnosed until symptoms have persisted for several months or have gotten noticeably worse. Symptoms of mesothelioma depend on the type of mesothelioma and vary from individual to individual. According to current medical knowledge, peritoneal mesothelioma, which takes place in the lining of the abdominal cavity, may include swelling and or pain in the abdomen, weight loss, vomiting and nausea. Pleural mesothelioma, which develops in the lining of the lungs, on the other hand, is more likely to cause symptoms such as shortness of breath, fever, sweating, isolated pain, muscle weakness, persistant cough, and fatigue. These symptoms may not all present at the same time, and are much more likely to the result of other problems. Only a series of exams can allow a doctor to determine the presence of mesothelioma.

In addition to a physical exam, your doctor may want to conduct one or more other tests. Imaging tests, such as tomography scans and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), make it possible to look inside the body and identify cancerous masses. Blood tests can identify if certain substances are at characteristically elevated levels. Buildup of fluid in certain areas of the body can also be an indicator of mesothlioma. Removing and testing the fluid can show the presence of cancer cells. Finally, biopsies can also reveal the presence of mesothelioma. After a diagnosis is made and the extent of the disease is established, a course of mesothelioma treatment and mesothelioma therapy will be recommended.


Mesothelioma Treatment: Nutrition

Thursday, December 15th, 2011

When undergoing treatment for mesothelioma, nutrition can play a vital role in the outcome of and the quality of life during treatment. Eating foods high in protein, along with fruits, vegetables and whole grains can help prepare the body for the stress of treatments. Unfortunately, mesothelioma patients commonly experience a loss of appetite during mesothelioma treatment due to effects of chemotherapy or the disease itself.

According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), certain practices can aid in this process. Because tastebuds often change during chemotherapy, foods may lose their former appeal or even become unpleasant. To avoid a loss of nutrients, the ACS suggests trying alternative foods such as plant-based foods like peas and beans that may be more palatable. Limiting certain foods and beverages, such as alcohol and pickled and cured foods, can help as well. The ACS also recommends eating five colorful servings of fruits and vegetables each day, including dark green and deep yellow vegetables, as these contain phytochemicals that are very beneficial nutrients. In addition, maintaining as much physical acidity as possible will aid in overall health and well-being. Finally, cooking large meals and storing plenty of food in the pantry and freezer will help reduce overall work and stress sometimes involved in meal preparation.

Seeking support can also make a big difference. Among the various mesothelioma and asbestos resources, nutritionists can be very helpful for patients who are going through mesothelioma therapy. Nutritionists can help design a specific plan to help prevent malnutrition and muscle and bone wasting. A good nutrition plan may also help patients handle aggressive treatments, fight infection, and maintain the strength and energy needed for a better quality of life during and after treatment. Finally, a support structure of friends and neighbors can be vital to implementing a nutrition plan. If you or someone you love has mesothelioma, don’t be afraid to ask for support for assistance with tasks like shopping and meal preparation. This can provide a way for people who care to offer much needed support.


Palliative Care for Mesothelioma

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

Victims of mesothelioma face a number of challenging symptoms that can make an already difficult process even more stressful. Fortunately, good quality palliative care may help relieve or at least manage many of these symptoms. Palliative care is care designed to make patients as comfortable as possible.

Dealing with pain is often an unfortunate part of mesothelioma. However, pain can sometimes be successfully managed with pharmacological therapy that follows the World Health Organization’s pain ladder, a stepped approach to pain medication that is based on the severity of pain and the source of the pain. A good pain management plan is an important part of mesothelioma therapy and should be designed by a pain management specialist.

Shortness of breath and fatigue are other common symptoms that can sometimes be helped through a variety of treatments. Medications and/or oxygen are sometimes used to treat shortness of breath. Relaxation, changes in position can also sometimes make a difference. Nutrition, stress management, or exercise may help alleviate fatigue, depending on the reasons behind the fatigue.

Mesothelioma patients sometimes develop dry mouth as a result of dehydration, medication or treatment side effects, depression, anxiety or dehydration. Whatever the cause, dry mouth can be relieved in a number of ways. When appropriate, increasing fluids can help. But sometimes, dry mouth persists. In that case, sucking on ice chips or Vitamin C tablets, chewing gum, or using an air humidifier can all help alleviate a dry mouth.

Loss of appetite is another common problem with patients suffering from mesothelioma. Nutrition is a big part of a mesothelioma patient’s overall well being. Loss of appetite can result in loss of weight, which can complicate and exacerbate some symptoms. Eating smaller, more frequent meals that are high in calories and protein can help maintain a patient’s balanced nutritional Intake.

Cancer patients can also encounter problems with their skin. Itchy or dry skin, rashes, sores and ulcers can all be part of a cancer patient’s reality. Drinking plenty of water and using adequate moisturizers can help dry skin. A bath filled with baking soda can sometimes reduce itching. Clean sheets and towels free from heavy detergents will help as well.

If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you may want to spend some time reading our mesothelioma blog and mesothelioma articles. Being informed is one of the best strategies for planning quality palliative care.


Global Trends in the Use of Asbestos

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

The history of asbestos regulation and enforcement varies around the world. In many places, dramatic and permanent changes have occurred. Elsewhere, asbestos is still mined and used without regulation. Still other places have adequate regulations but a lack of enforcement to ensure that regulations are followed.

Since the late 1960’s and 70’s, the United States government has created valuable regulations and enforcement policies. Sadly, for many naval ship workers, miners and factory workers, these changes came too late. To date, an estimated 100,000 people have either died or will die from asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma.

Trade of asbestos from South Africa ended in 2003, through the result of international negotiations. This has had an impact on use in other countries, as South Africa was a significant exporter up to that point.

Most European countries have taken a proactive approach, banning asbestos. Still, the United Kingdom’s Health and Safety Executive, who is responsible for tracking issues related to asbestos, says that construction workers in business prior to 2000 should be aware of the possibility of having been exposed to asbestos.

While regulated, asbestos is not banned in Canada. In fact, Canada is home to the infamous Jeffrey Mine, formerly the largest mine in the world, located in a town named, aptly, Asbestos. The mine is the subject of great controversy. Although the government has spent millions of dollars on asbestos abatement and monitoring industries affected by mesothelioma, some are pushing to reopen the mine and export the Chrysotile to places like Pakistan and India, where there are no such regulations.

Certain researchers predict that in the coming decades, Latin America will experience a rise in mesothelioma, since many Latin American countries have not put adequate enforcement in place. Due to a lack of accurate data, the impact of this trend is unknown. In the meantime, many workers are reportedly still exposed on a regular basis to harmful levels of asbestos.

Spencer Johnson said, “Change happens when the pain of holding on becomes greater than the fear of letting go.” Sadly, Australia’s mesothelioma prevention measures represent that kind of change. In 2003, Australia banned the use of asbestos as a result of the tragic exposure of its workers and citizens to the Wittenoom blue asbestos mine. The mine stayed in operation for years after the Western Australia Health Department issued warnings about the risk of exposure. Although the mine was closed in 1966, it was too late for many workers, visitors and nearby residents who were exposed to extremely high levels of the potentially lethal material. Currently, Western Australia has the highest death rate from mesothelioma in the world.

Some of the most significant producers of asbestos and asbestos products are Asian or Pacific Island countries. China consumes approximately 600,000 tons in any given year. Although some Asian countries have bans and regulations in place, the large majority of Asian countries do not restrict the uses of asbestos.

International agreement is lacking about how to handle asbestos mining and exporting/importing. Because some industries currently depend on this material, it may be a slow and complicated process. Hopefully in the coming years, progress will be made toward global safety regulations and enforcement policies that protect everyone.

Diagnosing Mesothelioma Symptoms

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

How do you know you have developed mesothelioma? The likelihood is there’s a good chance you won’t; only a doctor can diagnose mesothelioma. Even so, symptoms of mesothelioma may vary depending on severity of the illness and location of the disease and are often confused with signs of other illnesses. Many people find that understanding how mesothelioma works can be helpful.

There are often considered to be three types of mesothelioma: pleural mesothelioma, peritoneal mesothelioma and benign mesothelioma. Each type has its own characteristics. Pleural mesothelioma is the most common form of this potentially deadly disease. Up to 75 percent of mesothelioma cases are instances of pleural mesothelioma. This type affects the pleura or lining of the lungs. Symptoms can be confused with the flu, lung cancer and even broken ribs.

Peritoneal mesothelioma affects the peritoneum, the abdominal lining that helps contain your digestive organs. Symptoms can include increased abdominal size, abdominal pain, digestive problems, weight loss, fever or fatigue. Because these symptoms are often associated with other illnesses, symptoms can be misleading here as well.

Benign mesothelioma is non-cancerous. The symptoms of benign mesothelioma, although generally considered less dangerous, can also be life threatening, especially if left untreated. The presence of benign mesothelioma may be an indicator for other serious problems. It also signifies likely exposure to asbestos, which could lead to the presence of mesothelioma in other areas of your body. You can find out more about asbestos and mesothelioma in our mesothelioma articles and our mesothelioma blog.

The cellular structure of malignant mesothelioma also has three possible classifications: epitheliod, sarcomatoid and mixed/biphasic. Epitheliod is the most common of the three and occurs in the outer layer of the organs and tissues in the body. Sarcomatoid mesothelioma, less common and more serious, occurs at a deeper tissue level and can affect bone, muscle, cartilage and fat.

If you have been exposed to asbestos or think you may have mesothelioma, you may want to schedule an appointment with your doctor. He or she may take any of several courses of action if mesothelioma is suspected. These could include a physical exam, fluid collection or scans. Methods of diagnosis vary from doctor to doctor. You may decide to get a second opinion or ask your doctor about other tests available. Being inquisitive about the method and accuracy of diagnosis can be life saving and help bring you peace of mind.

If you would like more information about mesothelioma diagnosis and mesothelioma treatments, call 1-888-370-0121.


Pleurodesis and Pleurectomy

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

In the last few weeks, we’ve discussed some basic information on what cancer is and various treatment options specific to mesothelioma cancer patients. In addition to radiation and chemotherapy, surgery is a potential treatment option for this aggressive form of cancer that could possibly result from exposure to asbestos materials. Surgical treatment for mesothelioma may involve different methods or procedures depending on the specifics of the diagnosis.

While there is no known cure for mesothelioma cancer, sometimes surgery may help alleviate some of the pain and complications resulting from this vicious disease. For example, certain patients experience difficulty breathing due to excess build up of fluid around the lungs or abdominal area. Excess fluid build-up can squeeze the lungs, making breathing uncomfortable and even painful.

Palliative type surgeries aim to relieve mesothelioma symptoms by draining the excess fluid. Pleurodesis is another type of surgery in which talc, a mineral silicate, is inserted into the small lining that cushions the lungs in order to help mitigate fluid collection over the long-term.

A pleurectomy is a class of mesothelioma surgery where the surgeon removes a tumor and/or the lining of the lungs. This kind of surgery sometimes accompanies radiation or chemotherapy to help control remaining cancerous tissues. Pleurectomy is not a cure; however, it may help improve the patient’s quality of life and easing pain. Another type of surgery is pneumonectomy, which involves removing the lung, the lining around it and some of the support tissues. This surgery typically occurs with the most drastic cancer cases in an attempt to relieve the pain and discomfort associated with mesothelioma.

Surgery and other treatments for mesothelioma can sometimes be uncomfortable and quite extensive. With these surgical options and other selected treatments, medical professionals seek to do everything possible to make a positive impact on the patient’s overall health and quality of life.


Testing Method Improves Mesothelioma Diagnosis

Tuesday, August 11th, 2009

Mesothelioma diagnosis just got significantly more effective thanks to a new testing method that combines preexisting tests already independently used to detect the cancer.  According to an article posted on Surviving Mesothelioma, researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston came to this conclusion after employing the experimental method on 48 patients suspected of having mesothelioma.  The result: a near doubling of the sensitivity rate of the tests.

The researchers, led by Rachel Factor, an instructor of pathology at Boston Medical Center, collected cells using cytological methods, which involves studying tissue taken from patients on a cellular level.  Cytological methods of detection are considered favorable because they depend upon small samples that do not require invasive techniques to acquire.  The flip side of this ease is that such methods can be inaccurate.  Looking at irritated but otherwise normal cells from the lung lining can look remarkably similar to mesothelioma, for example.

After harvesting the cells, the researchers subjected the samples to not one but two genetic tests.  The first, called karyotyping, involves analyzing the cells’ chromosomes to look for any irregularities that would point toward cancer.  The second, known as flourescent in situ hybridization, or FISH, uses fluorescent probes to detect specific lengths of DNA in chromosomes.  When the researchers applied the modified test to the 48 patients, they noticed a doubling in the detection of mesothelioma.

This is great news, obviously, but the test has room for improvement.  Chief among them is (still) accuracy.  Even after the aforementioned doubling in detection, the sensitivity of the test was still only marked at 60%.  That means that the opportunity for false-negative results is unacceptably high.  One way the researchers could improve the test’s sensitivity is by employing additional FISH probes.  The only problem with that is, many of these probes are not yet commercially available.  Additional research, experimentation, and studies are needed before this test can be fully perfected.  Still, this is a huge step in the right direction, one which may lead to an improvement in the early detection and treatment of this disease and the quality of life of its sufferers.

Mesothelioma Diagnosis

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

A Mesothelioma diagnosis is made by a doctor. Mesothelioma symptoms can vary depending on the person affected and how severe the illness is. Symptoms can include having a hard time breathing and/or swallowing, a loss of appetite and chest pain, for example. If you believe you have Mesothelioma or if you were exposed to asbestos, it may be ideal to visit a doctor.

How a Mesothelioma Diagnosis is Determined

There are several methods doctors will use to make a Mesothelioma diagnosis. A physical exam is usually the first step, and the doctor will want to ask questions regarding your medical and family history. MRIs and CT Scans may be used, as they can possibly show the fluid collection between the lung and chest wall that sometimes appears as a result of Mesothelioma, thus giving the indication that a person has it. A tissue biopsy can also be used for a Mesothelioma diagnosis.

These are merely examples — you will want to ask your doctor how your Mesothelioma diagnosis was made. You may also want to ask your doctor about how accurate the method of making your diagnosis was, and if it wasn’t thought to be highly accurate, if there’s another type of test you could undergo. If you aren’t happy with your doctor’s response, you may consider getting a second opinion.

Treatment After a Mesothelioma Diagnosis

If you have been diagnosed with Mesothelioma, you were likely referred to an oncologist or Mesothelioma specialist doctor for treatment. Though there is no proven cure for Mesothelioma, treatment is available. Around the country, doctors are experimenting with different kinds of treatments, one of them being pneumonectomy. This involves the surgical removal of a lung as well as intensive chemotherapy. This treatment might extend the life of a person who has Mesothelioma.

Long-term survival of Mesothelioma is very rare, and victims have a life expectancy of less than two years from the onset of symptoms. Sadly, it’s not unusual for a person to die just months after a Mesothelioma diagnosis.

If you would like more information about Mesothelioma diagnosis and treatments, call 1-888-370-0121 to speak to a resource person.