What happens to the lungs with mesothelioma?

If you are diagnosed with mesothelioma, one of the things you may understand is that the pleural tissues are impacted by the disease. If you're not familiar with the specific parts of the body, this might be confusing, but it's relatively easy to explain.

With malignant pleural mesothelioma, a type of cancer that can be caused by asbestos exposure, the pleura helps keep the lungs inflated. There are two linings of pleura, one called the visceral pleura and the other known as the parietal pleura.

The visceral pleura covers the lungs. The parietal pleura lines the chest cavity. The two work together to keep oxygen in the lungs. A small amount of fluid passes between them because it provides lubrication for them to slide off one another.

When there is too much fluid between them, the suction created makes it hard for the lungs to move as much as they did when the fluid level was normal. This makes breathing more difficult and rigid. Extra fluid is a direct result of malignant pleural mesothelioma. With MPM, cancer causes the dysfunction of the pleura, making it harder and harder to breathe over time.

What are the signs of mesothelioma?

Around 80 percent of all cases of mesothelioma affect the lungs. You may be able to identify it by symptoms such as:

  • Lumps in the abdomen
  • Weight loss with no explanation
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Swelling in the abdomen
  • Pain under the ribs

If you have these symptoms, seek medical care. At early stages, it's possible to treat mesothelioma, giving you the best chance of long-term survival.

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