Modern Solutions for Mesothelioma – an Issue Report

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Modern solutions for Mesothelioma – An Issue report

Problem: Rising number in Mesothelioma cases
Mesothelioma is a form of cancer that develops from the protective lining that covers many of the body's internal organs, the Mesothelium. It occurs when the person has been exposed to materials containing asbestos; the asbestos fibres then enter your body when you breathe in, and because they are sharp so they damage tissues inside the body. It only affects the lining in the first stages of the cancer; however the cancer can spread to other parts of the body, eventually killing the person affected. It is usually caused by exposure to asbestos. Asbestos is a set of six minerals that are used by many industries because of their physical properties. The foremost cause of Mesothelioma has been reported to be because of exposure to asbestos. “Between 7 and 8 out of every 10 people diagnosed with Mesothelioma (70 to 80%) say they have been in contact with asbestos.” [1]

* “There were 92,253 Mesothelioma-related deaths reported in 83 different countries between 1994 and 2008.” [3]

The main cause of Mesothelioma developing is exposure to asbestos. The asbestos fibres are hard to kill in the body, and therefore are able to damage body tissues inside the body.

Fig.1 A microscopic image showing asbestos fibres.

The use of asbestos in the world is increasing because of properties; “they have a very strong tensile strength, and are resistant to fire, heat, electrical and chemical damage, which consequently is good for many industries” [4]. One use of asbestos is building insulation, therefore people building new houses or moving houses are very likely to be exposed to asbestos and have a higher chance of developing Mesothelioma. On the other hand, the use of asbestos has been banned in the UK since 2006, however this does not stop the material from coming into the country, as people who may travel to the UK from another country which still uses asbestos, there is just the same amount of chance of someone getting Mesothelioma because of asbestos fibres still being in the UK atmosphere.

Fig.2 shows a CXR scan of a Mesothelioma patient, from the image we can see that the bottom of the lung, the pleura (outer-lining of the lung) has mutated and had an abnormal growth which has caused it to block off the bottom part of the lung.

Fig.2 CXR scan showing a Mesothelioma.

Pleural Mesothelioma has a long latency and grows silently in the chest cavity, and as a result, people with Mesothelioma will not have any major symptoms until about 15-60 years after exposure to asbestos.

Solution: Potentially Curative Surgery and Radiotherapy
There are two types of surgeries that can be done; one of them which is regarded the safer option is Pleurectomy/ Decortication (P/D), from the two major surgeries. The aim of the surgery is to remove the affected pleura from the patient’s body. The procedure has a low death rate, and when completed, very few complications tend to develop.

Dr Robert Cameron, who began developing this procedure and has performed this surgery more than any other surgeon, himself, picks this surgery over the Extrapleural Pneumonectomy (EPP). The EPP surgery involves the removal of all the organs and muscles in the affected chest area, whereas, the P/D surgery involves the lining of the chest instead of the whole lung and diaphragm. Dr Cameron says that the P/D surgery is better as he states “This can be done very completely so it provides just as much tumour clearance as taking out the lung in an EPP. It does so with much less sacrifice of lung function and risk of having surgical complications that result in bad outcomes and even death.” [6]

The P/D surgery procedure involves taking out the lining of the chest so that the cancer cannot spread around the body. The mesothelium, which is affected by this cancer, and is being treated or replaced through this method, is the membrane that creates the lining of...
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