Mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer that starts in the mesothelium, a tissue that covers most of the organs contained in the thoracic and abdominal cavity:
- Pleura, which covers the lungs.
- Peritoneum, which envelops the abdominal cavity.
- Pericardium, which covers the heart.
- Vaginal tunic, which is the lining of the testicles.
The most important cause of this cancer is exposure to asbestos, either because it has been worked with or because it is inhaled when living in buildings with a high content of this material. Precisely, it is the inhalation of this chemical that makes the pleura the usual place where mesothelioma begins, which often makes it difficult for it to be distinguished from lung cancer.
It should be noted, however, that its development is very slow, to the point that it may take up to 30 years since exposure to asbestos has been maintained and the time when the diagnosis is manifested and occurs, which usually occurs when It is in advanced stages. That is why the average age of diagnosis is 60 years, affecting men more than women.
Among the symptoms of these tumors, the following stand out:
- Breathing difficulties
- Pleural effusion.
- Chest pain.
- Abdominal pain and inflammation
- Constipation. Presence of nodules in the abdomen.
- Unjustified weight loss.
As noted above, early diagnosis is in this case infrequent, when giving the face when it is already advanced and has spread to other areas of the mesothelium. This is also influenced by the difficulty of the diagnosis for which a chest x-ray, a CT scan, a pleural fluid analysis, a pleura biopsy and in some cases a lung biopsy should be performed. In addition, it is not easy to differentiate mesothelioma from other cancers.
Currently, research is being carried out with the aim of developing a method of early detection for this type of cancer, since, except in the case that the diagnosis is made in very early stages of the disease, in which case The tumor can be removed with surgery, the treatment of mesothelioma is ineffective and has a fundamentally palliative nature since it is essentially aimed at reducing symptoms.