Mesothelioma Mesothelial Cells Complications

Mesothelioma is a rare cancer of the mesothelium, or the layer of tissue that covers the internal organs. Mesothelioma can affect several different organ systems, including:

  • Abdominal organs (peritoneal mesothelioma)
  • Heart (pericardial mesothelioma)
  • Lungs (pleural mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma is caused by exposure to asbestos. Symptoms of mesothelioma often don’t emerge until decades after asbestos exposure. In later stages, complications of mesothelioma can arise from the growth of cancerous cells.

Symptoms of Mesothelioma

Though mesothelioma cancer can take decades to develop, symptoms of mesothelioma may appear as the disease progresses. Symptoms vary depending on the body system affected, and can include the following:

  • Pericardial mesothelioma is very rare, and affects the heart. Its symptoms can include irregular heartbeat and chest pain.
  • Peritoneal mesothelioma affects the abdominal organs, and symptoms can include changes in digestive habits and abdominal pain.
  • Pleural mesothelioma affects the lungs, and can lead to symptoms such as chest pain and difficulty breathing.

Mesothelioma usually manifests itself with any of these symptoms. However, the disease can also lead to certain medical complications.

Medical Complications: Heart Damage

Mesothelioma can also lead to damage in your heart. Pericardial mesothelioma affects the mesothelium covering the heart, and can cause irregular heart rhythm. Reduced lung capacity associated with pleural mesothelioma can increase your risk for heart problems: Your heart must work harder to circulate oxygenated blood through your body. In this sense, symptoms of mesothelioma can affect your heart both directly and indirectly.

Medical Complications: Pleural Effusion

Pleural effusion is a complication of pleural mesothelioma, which affects the mesothelium of the lungs. The mesothelium produces a fluid that lubricates the internal organs. In pleural effusion, an excess of this fluid builds up in the pleural space, between the lungs and the chest wall. Pleural effusion can put pressure on the lungs, which can lead to symptoms including:

  • Chest pain
  • Cough
  • Difficulty breathing.

Pleural Effusion - Pleural Aspiration - Mesothelioma Complications

Other Complications of Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma can also lead to other complications, including the following:

  • Dysphagia: Dysphagia is the medical term for difficulty in safely swallowing food. Dysphagia can lead to aspiration, when food or liquid enters the trachea and/or lungs. This can lead to other conditions, such as pneumonia. Dysphagia is rare in mesothelioma, and usually occurs when pleural mesothelioma spreads to the esophagus.
  • Superior Vena Cava Syndrome (SVCS): SVCS occurs when the superior vena cava is partially blocked. It can occur in mesothelioma when pleural or pericardial mesothelioma has progressed such that tumor growth places pressure on the structures in the chest. SVCS can cause symptoms including airway obstruction and shortness of breath.

The different types of mesothelioma can lead to a variety of medical complications as the disease progresses, and cancerous tumors continue to grow in the body.

Resources

Boyle, M. (2002). Dysphagia. Retrieved December 29, 2009, from the Health Line Web site: http://www.healthline.com/galecontent/dysphagia.

Breathing.com Staff. (n.d.). Lung trouble may raise heart risk. Retrieved December 29, 2009, from the Breathing.com Web site: http://www.breathing.com/articles/lung-capacity-increased-heart-risk.htm.

Cochran Firm Staff. (n.d.). What asbestos can do to your body. Retrieved December 29, 2009, from the Cochran Firm web site: http://www.cochranfirm.com/civil/meso-what-asbestos-does.html.

Mayo Clinic Staff. (n.d.). Mesothelioma: Complications. Retrieved December 29, 2009, from the Mayo Clinic Web site: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/mesothelioma/DS00779/DSECTION=complications.

Mesothelioma Aid Staff. (n.d.). Symptoms of mesothelioma. Retrieved December 29, 2009, from the Mesothelioma Aid Web site: http://www.mesothelioma-aid.org/symptoms.htm.

Metzler, M. (2002). Superior vena cava syndrome. Retrieved December 29, 2009, from the Health Line Web site: http://www.healthline.com/galecontent/superior-vena-cava-syndrome.

National Cancer Institute Staff. (n.d.). Mesothelioma: Questions and answers. Retrieved December 29, 2009, from the National Cancer Institute Web site: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Sites-Types/mesothelioma.