Mesothelioma: Information & Resources

Malignant mesothelioma (sometimes referred to as “mesothelioma” or simply “meso”) is an aggressive form of cancer that affects tens of thousands of people worldwide. Generally associated with long-term exposure to materials that contain asbestos, mesothelioma can grow and spread with alarming speed, which is why early diagnosis is so crucial to a good prognosis. However, the time from initial asbestos exposure to the time of becoming symptomatic is often extremely long—sometimes, the latency period lasts for several decades before someone with mesothelioma begins to feel ill. These factors combine to present clinicians and patients alike with a major dilemma.

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Malignant mesothelioma (all sites): Number of deaths, crude and age-adjusted death rates, U.S. residents age 15 and over, 1999–2010

Types of mesothelioma

Mesothelioma typically affects the linings of the heart, lungs, abdominal cavity, and in rarer cases, the reproductive organs.

Pericardial mesothelioma

One of the more rare mesothelioma types, pericardial mesothelioma affects the lining of the heart. The most popular treatment option for this form of mesothelioma is surgery to remove the cancer and sometimes, the lining of the heart itself.

Peritoneal mesothelioma

One of the more common mesothelioma types, peritoneal mesothelioma affects the lining of the abdominal cavity. It is thought to be caused by swallowing of asbestos or asbestos-like fibers, and popular treatment options include surgical tumor excision, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy.

Pleural mesothelioma

The most common form of mesothelioma affects the lining of the lungs. This form of mesothelioma is typically associated with inhalation of carcinogenic fibers, often on a daily basis over a long period of time (such as while working with asbestos insulation). Treatment options for pleural mesothelioma are varied and depend upon the stage of the cancer at the time of diagnosis.

Testicular mesothelioma

Testicular mesothelioma is extremely rare, with fewer than 100 people across the globe reported as having the diagnosis. The most common method of treatment for mesothelioma of the lining of the testes is surgical removal of the testis affected by the tumor.

Treatment options

There are a variety of treatment options available for people who are diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, depending on the location and stage of their cancer. Treatments may be curative—that is, intended to remove the cancer and send the patient into remission—or they may be palliative—that is, intended to ease the pain or discomfort experienced by the patient in order to restore quality of life.

Curative treatments

Radiation therapy, surgical treatment, and chemotherapy are often used as potentially curative treatments, with the hopes of removing most or all of the cancerous tissue from the body, either by physically removing it as in surgery, or by delivering cancer-killing radiation or chemo treatment to the tumor. Curative treatments have the best prognosis when the cancer is still localized and has not spread to distant organs in the body.

Palliative treatments

For individuals whose mesothelioma is at a later stage by the time of diagnosis, curative options may be extremely limited. These people still have options, though, to help them reclaim quality of life while living with mesothelioma. For example, surgery to drain excess fluid in the lungs due to pleural mesothelioma may be conducted to make a patient’s breathing easier, and pain medications may also be prescribed to reduce the pain caused by the growth and spread of the cancer. More information at http://mesothelioma.net.

You Can Help a Cancer Survivor with Hearing Loss d/t Chemotherapy

chemo side effectsI know a boy who happens to be a miracle. His name is Isaac Sneed. About 11 years ago he  started complaining about his “tummy”. You know, the kinds of complaints all kids have. Only his ache never went away. The diagnosis was  neuroblastoma, a rare form of cancer. This cancer is almost always fatal, and most children who get this kind of cancer are diagnosed by the age of 2.  By the time it is discovered, the cancer usually spreads to the point of no return. Through a miracle, his tumor was completely intact and the doctors were able to remove it. Isaac was 8.

As a result of his treatment (chemotherapy, radiation and stem cell transplant), Isaac suffers from significant hearing loss.  Ototoxicity is caused from the platinum in some anti-neoplastic drugs. Hearing loss is common following radiation therapy for head and neck cancer. Stem cell transplant risks include hearing loss.

Late effects of Cancer treatment
Isaac  just got his mission call for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. He is going to the Romania Bucharest Mission and reports to the Mission Training Center on Dec. 14, 2011. Because Isaac needs hearing aids to be the best missionary he can be. Learning a new language is challenging for a normal missionary with a set of good ears, so you can imagine what Isaac’s challenge will be with significant hearing loss.

The cost of hearing aids is approximately $6500. His parents are currently without health insurance and cannot afford to purchase them. If you have a heart, and I know you do, would you please make a donation to get them for him. Every little bit helps. So far $110 has been collected in his behalf. But that’s a long way from the total we need. Even small amounts add up. You can go to any Chase bank and deposit funds. The account number is: 2996079725. Thank you for your generosity! If you prefer, your donation may remain anonymous.

By Betsy Love