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Mesothelioma: Description, Diagnosis and Treatment Prognosis

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“The main cause of cancer is ignorance. Applied nutritional knowledge can help you remove or reduce the risk factors and break down the manifestation of any growth.”

–Uzo Onukwugha, MD

Mesothelioma is a tumor of the flat cells that line the surface of the lungs, adjacent windpipes, and the chest cavity. Mesothelioma is an acronym of mesothelium (flat or cellophane sheath) and granny (Latin name for growth or tumor). It is a rare type of lung tumor and is often associated with occupational risks. It is a condition that entails a multidisciplinary approach and institutions: the doctors, occupational and preventive medicine, surgeons, occupational safety, work accidents, lawyers, occupational therapists and trade unions.

Risk Factors and Tumor Evolution:

Prolonged inhalation of asbestos fibers has been associated with certain occupations such as shipbuilding, insulation, construction and demolition. The biggest culprits are blue and white asbestos. Smoking cigarettes can double the risk. The disease is subtle and can take several years, if not decades, to cause symptoms. In the beginning, the diseases may not cause any symptoms. A construction worker may not notice symptoms until long after retirement. The appearance of symptoms may prompt the victim to seek medical attention. The symptoms and signs may include shortness of breath, chest pain, fibrosis, pleural effusion, calcified plaques, and bronchial cancer. The cancer can eat up the lungs, windpipes, ribs, and adjacent muscles.

Types of Mesothelioma: The growth can be fibrosing and localized or it can be diffuse and malignant and spread to adjacent tissues.

Fibrous Mesothelioma:

Presents as chest discomfort and all sorts of respiratory problems. As with pleural tumors, joint pain may be noted in the hands, wrists, ankles, and knees. Examination of the hands may reveal finger clubs.

Chest X-rays are important in the clinical diagnosis and can reveal localized growths as a mass of soft tissue. There may be an air fluid level showing effusion into the lung cavity.

The prognosis with surgical resection for this type is good, even with evidence of spread. However, some can progress to a full-blown malignancy.

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Malignant Mesothelioma:

The symptoms of malignant mesothelioma appear much later and appear to peak at 55. Symptoms are diffuse and usually develop within a few decades of asbestos exposure. Cigarette smoke tends to exacerbate the onset of symptoms such as shortness of breath and chest pain.

Chest X-rays may reveal connective tissue complications such as pleural tissue clumping (pleurisy), pleural effusion, lung collapse, basal fibrosis, pulmonary hypertension, and lupus erythematosis. Other autoimmune diseases and bronchial cancer can develop.

Sputum test is non-contributing and open pleural biopsy may be required to characterize tumor type before treatment.

At this stage, surgery is hopeless. Palliative radiotherapy or cancer chemotherapy can be tried, but the prognosis is hopeless.

Prevention – better than cure:

The best treatment for mesothelioma is preventive measures and health advice for high-risk professions. These include wearing face masks and finding alternatives to asbestos and quitting smoking. Job change may be necessary.

Free treatment:

Green superfoods such as spirulina, chlorella, barley grass, wheat grass, green kamut and alfalfa help the body withstand the stress of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Green foods are also known to boost immunity and attack free radicals, neutralize toxins released by cancer cells and improve patients’ overall quality of life. Supplements such as multivitamins, minerals, aloe vera and essential fatty acids can be added to the vegetables as a supplement to the treatment.

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