Mesothelioma Attorneys

Malignant Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma

Malignant mesothelioma is cancer of the mesothelium. The mesothelium is a membrane that lines the body cavities and surrounds the organs. As malignant mesothelioma progresses it affects the lymph nodes and other tissues in the area near the original cancer and eventually spreads throughout the body. For most patients, mesothelioma diagnosis comes too late to effectively treat the cancer. Diagnosis in the earliest stages, before the cancer had spread, greatly increases your chance of an extended lifespan.

Mesothelioma Cancer

Malignant means cancerous. Malignant mesothelioma is often referred to simply as mesothelioma. It occurs when asbestos fibers lodged in the mesothelium cause irritation and inflammation, and over time the cells become abnormal. The abnormal cells divide and grow without order, and outlive normal cells.

Malignant Mesothelioma Progression

Mesothelioma begins in the mesothelium, but can invade the nearby tissue and lymph nodes. As cancer progresses it metastasizes, which means it spreads to more distant parts of the body. Mesothelioma is classified into stages of development. There are three systems for staging. Determining the stage of mesothelioma is an important part of determining the best course of treatment.

Types of Cancer Cells

Mesothelioma cancer cells may be epithelioid or sarcomatoid. Epithelioid mesothelioma is the most common and is more responsive to treatment than sarcomatoid. In biphasic, or mixed, mesothelioma both types of cells are present.

Treating Malignant Mesothelioma

There is no cure for mesothelioma, but new treatments are still being developed. Mesothelioma patients have a much better chance of achieving a five year survival today than they did years ago. If the cancer is detected in the earliest stage, there is a chance that surgery can remove all of the cancer. Unfortunately, most patients are not diagnosed until mesothelioma has progressed to the point that surgery is no longer helpful.

Mesothelioma which is detected early enough is sometimes treated with the traditional cancer treatments radiation and chemotherapy. Newer treatments which are showing promise include:

  • Photodynamic therapy
  • Gene therapy
  • Immunotherapy
  • Anti-angiogenesis drugs

Some mesothelioma patients are eligible to participate in clinical trials. Participating in clinical trials can give you access to the very newest treatments before they become available to the general public. This is particularly hopeful for mesothelioma patients, because the disease kills so quickly and waiting is not an option. Participating in a clinical trial comes with risks, too. The treatment may be ineffective or may even be harmful.