Sunday, July 8, 2007

What is Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma from the (Greek meso+ thelioma, tumor of middle lining
tissue) is an uncommon cancer, originating from the cells which form the membrane lining
the abdominal cavity (peritoneal membrane or peritoneum) which houses the intestines, or
the chest (pleural membrane or pleura) cavity housing the heart and lungs, in which the
cells making up those tissues begin to grow out of control.

Mesothelioma's most often are seen in older patients, more often men that have a history of
occupational exposure to asbestos, although other causes such as radiation and certain
viruses have occasionally been implicated. In a proportion of cases, no asbestos exposure
can be identified.

Mesotheliomas involving the lung and pleura characteristically present as progressive
shortness of breath due to the thickening of the lining membrane of the lung with gradual
contraction of the breathing space; often, fluid accumulates in the lung spaces as well,
further interfering with breathing, Mesotheliomas involving the abdominal cavity present
with digestive symptoms, and abdominal swelling due to thickening of the lining membranes
of the gut, and accumulation of large amounts of fluid in the abdomen.