What You Need to Know About Pleural Mesothelioma

With countless treatments available, cancer doesn’t have to be a death sentence anymore. The most common types of cancer in the US are breast cancer and prostate cancer, affecting 290,000 and 270,000 individuals respectively every year. For many, an early diagnosis can significantly improve the prognosis. 

Pleural mesothelioma, a type of lung cancer, counts around 2,500 diagnoses every year. In comparison, pleural mesothelioma might seem like a rare and negligible condition. However, unlike many other cancers, the approach is significantly different. 

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What is Pleural Mesothelioma?

Pleural mesothelioma is an aggressive form of cancer that develops in the thin layer of tissue that surrounds the lungs and other organs of the chest. It is caused primarily by exposure to asbestos, a mineral used for insulation and soundproofing for decades before its health risks were fully understood. When fibers from asbestos are inhaled or ingested, they can become lodged in the tissue, causing inflammation and ultimately leading to cancer. Cancer can develop from even a very small amount of asbestos exposure. Families of asbestos-exposed employees and those who have only recently worked with asbestos have been documented to develop asbestos-related cancer.

Its symptoms, such as chest pain, shortness of breath, and fatigue, are not specific to the disease, so they may be mistaken for something else.

It is not a benign diagnosis

It is important to understand that pleural mesothelioma is not a benign diagnosis. In fact, 80 percent of all cases are malignant pleural mesothelioma, making it one of the most serious forms of cancer. 

There is no other known cause of the condition outside of exposure to asbestos, making countless buildings and households a ticking cancer bomb across the country. 

Pleural mesothelioma is more likely to develop in: 

  • men over the age of 65 
  • Occupational workers
  • residents who live close to natural or mining deposits of asbestos 
  • family members of asbestos exposure victims (asbestos fibers can be carried home on clothing by workers) 
  • Veterans, particularly in the US Navy

The focus is on managing pain

In most cases, there is very limited treatment available, and patients must focus on managing pain and discomfort. When it comes to managing the pain and discomfort of pleural mesothelioma, there are a few options that patients may want to consider. The use of cannabis for treating medical conditions has been increasingly studied in recent years, as its medicinal properties have become more widely accepted. When it comes to pleural mesothelioma, cannabis can be used to help alleviate pain and other symptoms. This can include decreased appetite, nausea, and fatigue.

There are several ways in which cannabis can be consumed, including smoking, ingesting edibles, or vaping. 

Adjusting to your new life expectancy

Adjusting to a shortened life expectancy due to a diagnosis of pleural mesothelioma can be a difficult process for both the patient and their family. However, there are ways to make the adjustment easier.

First, it is important to accept the diagnosis and focus on what is most important: making the most of the time left. Even though the prognosis is not good, there are still moments of joy that can be experienced. Focusing on those moments and creating memories with loved ones can help to bring peace and acceptance to a challenging situation.

With under 3,000 cases yearly, pleural mesothelioma may not be at the top of our priority list. However, the condition is linked to harmful building decisions that still need to be addressed and corrected. Banning the use of asbestos is not enough. It’s time to proceed with its safe removal nationwide. 

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