Pleural Mesothelioma Cancer Guide

Pleural Mesothelioma Cancer Guide

Pleural Mesothelioma Cancer Guide

Pleural mesothelioma, known also as lung mesothelioma, is is the most commonly-diagnosed type of mesothelioma, making up around 75% of all diagnosed patients. Prognosis can be poor for mesothelioma patients, but if the disease is caught early, treatment response is more favorable, which can help extend survival rate.
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Due to the way in which asbestos enters the body, the most common form of mesothelioma is found on the pleural membrane; the lining of the lungs. It is rarer than lung cancer, with about 2,500 new cases diagnosed in the United States each year.
However, it’s an extremely debilitating form of mesothelioma with low survival rates. Pleural mesothelioma, like other forms of mesothelioma,  is difficult to detect in its initial stages. It takes a long time to make its presence known as it can lay dormant in the pleural membrane. It can take up to 50 years for symptoms of mesothelioma to surface.
Additionally, its symptoms can be easily confused with common respiratory ailments such as influenza, bronchitis, or pneumonia. These symptoms often include shortness of breath, coughing, chest pains, fever, coughing up blood, difficulty in swallowing, or buildup of fluid in the chest cavity. Extreme tiredness, lack of appetite, and subsequent weight loss are other symptoms associated with the disease.
Because these symptoms can confuse physicians, the disease is usually accurately diagnosed when it has already reached a Stage 3 level of cancerous development. As the cancer progresses, the symptoms become more severe. Unfortunately the disease is commonly it its advanced stage when this occurs, rendering it difficult for physicians to entirely remove the tumors.


Although pleural mesothelioma is the most common type of mesothelioma, experts have yet to find a cure as mesothelioma as a whole is still considered a relatively new disease. Therefore, prognosis for victims is unfavorable. As with most diseases, your individual survival rate will greatly depend upon the stage of the disease and your overall health.

Treatment Options

As with pericardial and peritoneal mesothelioma, there are three major treatment options for pleural mesothelioma: surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. None of them can cure the cancer, but they can add months, even years, to a mesothelioma patient’s life. Many physicians will use a combination of the most popular treatments for a higher success rate.
The most invasive procedure is surgery. This form of mesothelioma affects the lining of the lungs and organs which are protected by the rib cage. A surgeon has to cut through the ribs in order to reach the affected areas.
Currently,  there are two types of surgical procedures: pleurectomy/decortication (the removal of the pleural lining), and the more radical extrapleural pneumonectomy (surgical resection of the affected lung and the surrounding parietal and visceral pleura).
In both cases, surgeons may take out either part of or the complete diaphragm and the pericardial sac. In addition, one or more ribs are removed from the patient’s body as a result of these procedures. Patients must be in good physical condition in order to endure such an invasive procedure. As a result, the majority of patients in the advanced stages of lung mesothelioma typically do not qualify.
Possible Side Effects of Surgery:
  • Blood clots and/or bleeding
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Pneumonia
  • Lung Malfunction
Chemotherapy is less invasive than surgery and aids in reducing the size of malignant mesothelioma tumors in the pleural lining. However, since  this treatment does not cure mesothelioma; chemotherapy helps to relieve some of the symptoms and extend a patient’s life expectancy. It is also used to eliminate any additional cancerous cells left behind after surgery.

Side Effects of Chemotherapy:

  • Patients can easily bleed and/or bruise because of reduced blood platelets
  • Hair loss from from the chemotherapy drugs attacking healthy hair follicle cells
  • Mouth sores and cuts
  • Nausea, which may also include episodes of vomiting
  • Low white blood cell count, which results in possible infections
  • Lack of energy and feeling lethargic
Radiation therapy, especially when applied in conjunction with extrapleural pneumonectomy surgery, is an effective  form of treatment in mesothelioma cases. Radiation therapy involves the killing of cancer cells with doses of high energy rays.
This treatment is used exclusively in cases of pleural mesothelioma due to the plethora of negative side effects possible in cases of peritoneal mesothelioma. Radiation therapy can be used either to prevent cancer from returning to surgically treated areas or to slow down the cancer’s progress in cases where surgery is not a viable option. Targeted radiation treatments also help to relieve a patient’s pain.

Possible Side Effects of Radiation Therapy

  • Hair loss
  • Skin rashes and burns
  • Lethargy and fatigue
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Trouble with breathing, include breath shortness
  • Loss of appetite
More recently, patients have also opted for non traditional treatments, such as yoga, meditation, acupuncture, holistic healing, and herbal remedies.
Studies have suggested that combining alternative treatments with traditional treatments will help prolong life spans by helping to build the immune system while reducing stress and promoting relaxation. Several doctors have found these forms of treatments available and even offer holistic medicines and practices at their offices.
Again, it is important to note that while these treatments help to control the spread of asbestos related cancer in the pleural region, there is currently no cure for any form of mesothelioma. However, with the right kind of treatment, prognosis can be extended and painful symptoms can be reduced.