Malignant mesothelioma is a very aggressive cancer that develops in the mesothelium, a protective membrane lining the interior of certain cavities of the body. There are three cavities in the body: the pleura (enveloping the lungs), the pericardium (enveloping the heart) and the peritoneum (lining the abdominal cavity). Mesothelioma most often develops at the expense of the pleura (90%) which causes malignant pleural mesothelioma, and more rarely affects the peritoneum and the pericardium (10%).
Malignant pleural mesothelioma is a rare disease: it is estimated that there are between 800 and 12,000 patients with this disease in the US each year. The main cause of this disease is prolonged exposure to asbestos. The latency period between asbestos exposure and the discovery of the disease can range from 20 to 40 years. This is why experts say the disease will peak around 2020.
In two-thirds of cases, the disease affects men (the most occupationally-derived sex exposed to asbestos). At the time of diagnosis, most patients are around 60 years old. Surviving Mesothelioma is possible if it is caught early.
In addition to asbestos, other mineral fibers can explain the occurrence of the disease. But it can also be caused by previous exposure to therapeutic irradiations.
Why ask for a second opinion?
In the case of pleural mesothelioma, a second opinion is particularly recommended, given the prognosis of this disease. According to their personal situation, and according to his or her wishes, each patient will have to choose between several treatment options. Surgical treatment remains a cumbersome and radical approach. This is why the patient must ensure that he or she has information on both the risk factors and the benefits of each proposed treatment, as well as the potential side effects and quality of life that each option may offer.
In this context, a second opinion brings an additional view on things and is likely to help the patient choose their treatment.
Which specialists should you consult?
Malignant pleural mesothelioma is often supported by multidisciplinary professionals, meaning a thoracic surgeon, an oncologist or pulmonologist can be contacted. In fact, all three may be required to participate in the patient’s care and management planning.