Mesothelioma or Asbestos Question?


With cancer, two of the most important treatment goals are preventing the further spread of tumors and extending the lifespan of the patient. To achieve these goals, oncologists typically rely on a combination of treatment methods including surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. If the cancer is in the lungs, one surgical option is a pneumonectomy.

Pleural Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is a deadly cancer most often caused by exposure to asbestos. It attacks the special cells lining your organs and body cavities, called the epithelial cells. These epithelial cells make up the lining, or mesothelium, that secretes lubricating fluid to protect your body from internal chafing and friction. The most common place for mesothelioma to occur is the lungs, where it is called pleural mesothelioma.

Pleural mesothelioma starts in the mesothelium around the lungs, but tumors can then burrow into the lung tissue itself. This can cause problems such as chronic shortness of breath, coughing, and chest pain.

The Pneumonectomy Process

A pneumonectomy is a surgical procedure in which surgeons remove an entire lung. It can become necessary if the mesothelioma tumors spread throughout the actual lung tissue. This is a radical surgery, so it is typically only used in extreme cases of pleural mesothelioma. Steps of a pneumonectomy include:

  • Making an incision from under the shoulder to below the ribs on the side of the diseased lung
  • Collapsing the lung
  • Detaching and closing off the air tubes and blood vessel to the diseased lung
  • Removing the lung
  • Closing the chest, often with a drainage tube extending from the chest cavity to the surface

Although this surgery can leave patients feeling out of breath for several months following the procedure, it can also increase one’s expected lifespan.

For More Information

If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, it is important to review all of your treatment options before deciding on a treatment plan and the Mesothelioma Resource Center may be able to help. To learn more about mesothelioma and mesothelioma treatment, please fill out the contact form located at the top of the page today.

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