Pleural Mesothelioma and Pleural Diseases

Pleural mesothelioma starts in the lungs. The pleura is a membrane around the lungs and is inside the chest. Whenever doctors refer to “pleural” or “pleura” this is the area they are talking about. Pleural mesothelioma symptoms are similar to many other pleural diseases and cancers. Pleural disease is often one of the early mesothelioma stages of pleural mesothelioma.

Pleural mesothelioma and pleural diseases begin by attacking this membrane, which makes it more difficult to breathe. Chest pain is a very common mesothelioma symptom; however it is also a symptom of many pleural diseases, including pleural mesothelioma. Both benign (not progressing) and malignant (progressing and getting worse) pleural diseases and pleural mesothelioma will produce symptoms of chest pain and shortness of breath. This is because the natural fluid that flows between the outer shell of your lung and the membrane over it (the parietal pleura) gets interrupted.

The fluid in this “pleura space” keeps your lungs breathing smooth and rhythmically when it’s flowing peacefully. It revolves in a continuous state of production and removal. When asbestos enters the lungs and chest and mesothelioma symptoms begin, the balance disappears and excess fluid accumulates. The fluidity of breathing disappears, and the pleural disease begins making breathing difficult. When there is excess fluid in the pleural space, it’s called pleural effusion. Pleural effusion can be one of the early mesothelioma stages, but if you have pleural effusion, that does not mean you have pleural mesothelioma.

Pleural diseases are not rare. If you’ve been exposed to asbestos, statistics published in British medical journals show that there is likely a 50% chance that you will have a pleural disease. Pleural disease is also common in many cancers, including breast cancer and lung cancer – it is not relegated to pleural mesothelioma or malignant mesothelioma. Medical journals report that 40% of cancer patients experience pleural effusion. In asbestos related pleural effusion, pleural effusion is sometimes followed by one of the next mesothelioma stages, diffuse pleural thickening.

Diffuse pleural thickening and pleural mesothelioma are not as common as pleural effusion and pleural plaques. Pleural plaques can occur from a brief exposure to asbestos, but may not be observed until 20 years later. Diffuse pleural thickening can be noticed anywhere from 3 years to 40 years after asbestos exposure, although it may occur as soon as a year after asbestos exposure. Medical tests must be given to determine the extent of the disease, and to monitor the progression which would indicate the likelihood of pleural mesothelioma or other malignant mesothelioma. For malignant pleural mesothelioma, the disease could be latent for 40 years or more. But pleural effusion is often diagnosed first, and can sometimes be noticed as early as a year after asbestos exposure. The degree of calcification (similar to a hardening) often determines how early the pleural disease can be identified. However, the stages of pleural calcification and mesothelioma stages of malignant mesothelioma will differ with each individual.

Pleural mesothelioma or pleural disease is not unlikely if you’ve been exposed to asbestos. If you’ve been exposed to asbestos, even for short time, and are having chest pain, it is important to start with chest x-rays to be able to monitor the progression of the disease. Medical tests for pleural diseases and pleural mesothelioma have the potential to halt the progression of malignant pleural mesothelioma as best as today’s medical discoveries allow. Early mesothelioma treatment lengthens mesothelioma life expectancy. Medical tests for pleural mesothelioma should start with any signs of pleural disease. Your doctor must know you’ve been exposed to asbestos. Find a pulmonologist or oncologist who is familiar with asbestos pleural diseases such as pleural mesothelioma and get the early mesothelioma treatment that you and your family deserve.

Reference: Lina Smith


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