Friday, September 24, 2010

How Far Has Your Mesothelioma Cancer Spread?

Doctors often rely on knowing the different stages of mesothelioma to be able to effectively treat this type of cancer. Like most other cancers, this type of cancer passes through different stages as the disease advances, these different stages have significant bearing on the type of treatment that will be prescribed and on the most likely outcome of the disease.

The various mesothelioma stages generally indicate how far the disease has progressed beyond its original point of origin. Localized mesothelioma is diagnosed when the cancer has not spread beyond the membrane (most often the lining of the lungs) in which it originated. If the cancer cells have spread beyond this lining to invade the lungs, chest wall cavity or other body organs it is considered an advanced mesothelioma stage, which is much more difficult to treat.

Beyond this informal localized vs. advanced classification, four distinct stages are recognized by each of the two most widely used mesothelioma staging systems. One system, the TNM staging system, is used most often in progressive cancer treatment centers and is recognized by the American Cancer Society as the most accurate mesothelioma staging system. The other, the Butchart Staging System, is the most common system for staging cancer in general.

Butchart Mesothelioma Stages

The Butchart system classifies mesothelioma cancer into four different stages depending on the stage of the main tumor mass.

* Stage I - Cancer is only seen in one side of the chest lining, or pleura

* Stage II - The mesothelioma has spread to any one of the chest wall, esophagus or heart or the lymph nodes of the chest

* Stage III - The cancer has invaded the diaphragm and the lining of the abdominal cavity (peritoneal cancer) or has spread to additional lymph nodes in the body

* Stage IV - Mesothelioma has spread to several major organs The Butchart staging system has been replaced largely by the TNM system for classifying mesothelioma cancer stages.

TNM Staging System

TNM stands for Tumor, Nodes and Metastasis; three keys to determining how advanced mesothelioma cancer is using this system. T stands for the extent of the tumor, N for how advanced the disease is in the lymph nodes and M for the extent of spread of the cancer into other organs.

* Stage I - Mesothelioma is restricted to the pleura of the chest and has not spread to other areas.

* Stage II - The cancer has spread to the pleural lining and to the outer lining of the lung or into the lung itself.

* Stage III - In addition to the pleura, mesothelioma spreads to part of the chest cavity behind the breast bone or within the chest wall. This stage also usually includes cancer of the lymph nodes.

* Stage IV - The most advanced of the mesothelioma stages, when cancer has spread to major organs or the bones or brain. Metastasis refers to the generalized spreading of the cancer.

Each individual case of mesothelioma is different and these stages are not the only factors that determine the type of treatment and the prognosis of the disease. Other factors come into consideration.

Bello Kamorudeen.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Important Nutritional Tips For Mesothelioma Patients Undergoing Chemotherapy.

Chemotherapy is one of the main treatments that cancer patients can to treat the disease. It involves the use of anticancer drugs to kill the cancer cells, however normal cells are also destroyed in the process.

This destruction of cancer cells leaves the body in a weak state. In addition, chemotherapy has a number of side effects, such as nausea. If cancer patients do not eat properly, they can become malnourished and pass away not from cancer, but from an infection or other illness in their weakened state. These are some tips to improve the nutrition of patients undergoing chemotherapy:

1-. Chemotherapy can cause anorexia{poor appetite} so choose foods that really pack a nutritional punch, so when you do eat, even if it is just a small amount, you are consuming nutritional foods high in protein and calories. Keep healthy snacks with you at all times. You should also consider adding daily multivitamin to boost your diet, but you must discuss this with your doctor before you add them.

2- Unfortunately, chemotherapy can also cause constipation and diarrhea - sometimes both in the same patient. To avoid these problems, drink plenty of fluids and avoid anything with caffeine. You may also want to cut most of the dairy out of your diet. Foods with good soluble fiber, such as mashed potatoes and bananas, can also be added to your diet to help with constipation and diarrhea.

3- One of the best ways to boost your diet during chemotherapy is to add as much protein to your diet as possible. Proteins, such as those found in meat, nuts and beans, can help you feel better during treatment, and can help fight cancer more effectively. Even if you do not care for meat or are dealing with anorexia, there are many ways to add protein to your diet. Here are some great tips for integrating protein whenever possible:

* When making pasta, add a beaten egg at the last second. As you stir, the heat will cook the egg, adding a great source of protein.

* Eat peanut butter with fruit.

* Add extra beans to soups and other dishes.

* Add powdered milk to recipes like muffins, mashed potatoes, and meatloaf.

* Prepare protein drinks and keep them with you all day, so you can get protein even just a sip at a time.

* Nuts are a great protein-enriched snack to carry with you throughout the day.

You can talk to a dietician about more ways to add protein to your diet.

4-In addition, if you're dealing with anorexia, your should add many calories to your diet to keep up strength. Some of the best ways to do this include:

* Spread butter or margarine on crackers.

* Stir unsweetened whipped cream into mashed potatoes.

* Add honey to cereal or desserts.

* Sprinkle granola into yogurt.

* Choose dried fruits as a healthy snack, and add them to meals or baked goods when possible.

A mesothelioma patient should seek to know as much as possible about the different methods of treating the disease so that they can cooperate maximally with treatment.

Bello Kamorudeen.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Mesothelioma Prognosis - Why Do Some Patients Survive Longer?

There have been some few patients who have survived far beyond the usual one year prognosis for most mesothelioma victims and a handful that have even been cured, with no trace of the aggressive cancer several years after treatment (though recurrence is always possible).

Many medical experts are baffled by this observation and for most of the time they are yet to find a real scientific basis to explain why some mesothelioma patients survive and others do not.

There seems to be one common factor amongst those that have survived the disease for longer times - the immune system. Studies of those who have either survived or been cured of the disease reveal that most of these patients participated in some sort of therapy that enhanced their immune system. Some treatments included clinical trials in immunology while others involved alternative therapies dealing with the immune system.

A number of mesothelioma survivors have posted their stories on the Internet and have spoken to patients and their families with the hope of providing a brighter outlook for their future. These same survivors have also presented their cases to doctors and researchers. The most outspoken of these individuals is Paul Kraus, an Australian mesothelioma survivor. Kraus was diagnosed with abdominal/ peritoneal mesothelioma in 1997, a form of the disease that is tougher to treat than the more common pleural mesothelioma. Kraus worked in a factory 35 years earlier where he was exposed him to blue (crocidolite) asbestos.

Upon his diagnosis, Kraus changed his diet (he's now a vegetarian), added many vitamins and supplements to his daily routine, began "juicing," and tried a treatment known as ozone therapy. Kraus explains, "They took blood out of a vein, used an ozone machine to add ozone (a molecule composed of three oxygen atoms) to the blood and reintroduced it into my body through a drip. The rationale for that was that cancer does not like an oxygenated environment." The research in putting the protocol together took a lot of time, but in the long-run, Kraus believes the combination of all these treatments stabilized his mesothelioma. Today, tests show he still has the disease and his body is a bit weaker than it was, but he has no pain and his doctors tell him he has many more years to live. Kraus stresses the fact that he is not the only mesothelioma survivor.

He has cited the case of a man diagnosed 14 years ago at age 58 (no name given) who had a chest wall resection after diagnosis and has had no symptoms or recurrence since. His doctors believe there was "moderate host inflammatory response" and that spontaneous regression may be an immune-mediated phenomenon" - in other words, his immune system played a role in his survival.

Another survivor, Rhio O'Connor - who recently published a book about his fight with mesothelioma - has lived with the disease for seven years. He opted against the conventional methods of treatment like surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Instead, with the help of several medical physicians, he developed a regimen that included 100 supplements per day, changed his diet drastically, and now practices what he calls "mind-body medicine" (such as non-stress techniques like meditation). In his book, he recommends a variety of alternatives to traditional medicines and treatments.

All mesothelioma patients should be encouraged to participate in clinical trials especially those that are trying out new methods of boosting the immune system.

Bello Kamorudeen.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Mesothelioma Surgery- What Are Your Options?

There are three main types of surgeries used in the treatment of mesothelioma.

A-Diagnostic surgery: This is used to confirm the diagnosis and locate the tumor. It is usually non invasive {it does not require cutting up the patient surgically}

B-Curative surgery: This involves the removal of as much tumor as possible with the hope of curing the patient. Radiotherapy and or chemotherapy is often used in combination with this type of surgery.

C-Palliative surgery: This form of surgery offers only symptomatic relief. It involves removal of cancer tissue but it does not offer a cure.

These are the different types of surgical procedures available for treatment:


This is a diagnostic form of surgery in which the suspected cancer tissue is partially removed and sent to the laboratory for investigations under the microscope to determine whether the cells are cancerous. There are three types of biopsy procedures: a} Cone biopsy is not generally relevant in the diagnosis of mesothelioma. b} Excisional biopsy involves the removal of as much as possible all the cancerous cells for testing. c} Needle aspiration biopsy typically uses a very long needle to remove a sample of cells from the area where the cancer is suspected.


This surgical procedure is used in the diagnosis of pleural mesothelioma and it is also used as palliative treatment for draining excessive fluids in the pleura in cases of pleural mesothelioma. During thorancentesis, a very long hollow needle is inserted into the pleural space of the lungs and fluid is drained through the needle. The surgery is done under local anesthesia.

Usually before the procedure is carried out, the doctor orders for plain Chest X-ray to see the best location from which to extract the fluid. The drained fluid is then transported to the laboratory for testing.


This is a palliative surgery usually done for patients with pleural mesothelioma. The pleural spaces are first drained of the excessive fluid accumulation and then a talc-like chemical is inserted into the pleural space that causes inflammation in the pleural space. This obliterates the space and prevents further fluid accumulation.


Pneumonectomy is the removal of one of the lungs. This form of surgery is usually used to treat mesothelioma affecting just one lung. It cannot be used for plural mesothelioma affecting both lungs and it is also not suitable for treating advanced cancer that has spread to other parts of the body.

Suitable candidates suitable for this surgery must have a very good general state of health. This operation is done under general anesthesia and the affected lung is removed completely. The patient will have to breathe with assistance of a respirator several days after the surgery.

5-Parencentesis Parencentesis is a form of palliative surgery for peritoneal mesothelioma in which the excessive fluid in the peritoneum (which causes abdominal pain and swelling} is drained through a long, hollow needle inserted into the abdomen.

6-Thoracotomy Thoracotomy is a generic name referring to lung surgery that be performed in patients with pleural mesaothelioma. There are three main types of thoracotomy procedures: A}Wedge resection-it is used to remove small localized tumors leaving as much healthy tissue as possible intact.

B} Lobectomy-this the removal of one or more lobes of the lungs C} Pneumonectomy-this is the removal of the entire lung on one side

7-Thorascocopy This is a procedure that can be used to diagnose pleural mesothelioma and other lung diseases. An incision is made into the chest, and a long tube is inserted into the pleural spaces of the lungs, enabling the doctor/surgeon to examine the pleura. Samples of suspected cancer cells are then removed for testing.

Bello kamorudeen.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Mesothelioma Treatments-What Are Your Options?

There are several options available for the treatment of mesothelioma. The most recommended forms of treatment are: a} Surgery b} Chemotherapy c} Radiotherapy. There are however other less popular, less commonly used forms of treatments, these include gene therapy, immunotherapy, photodynamic therapy and others. Some of these other forms of treatment are still in the stage of experimental and clinical trials usage.

The cancer is usually treated by the use of combination therapies involving the use of more than one type of therapy. Most times, surgery is used to remove as much of the tumor as possible and this is followed with chemotherapy and or radiotherapy to kill the remaining cancer cells. This particular combination of surgery and chemotherapy with radiotherapy is one of the commonest forms of therapy adopted for treatment.

Alternative therapies are also sometimes used in combination with the traditional treatment options. Many victims seek to add alternative therapies like TENS therapy, acupuncture, or massage to their treatment.

When you or your loved one is diagnosed with mesothelioma, you will have work with your doctor to choose the best treatment plan for you. To make the right choice, you have to know all the options available to you. Having a good knowledge of your chosen treatment option often helps you{the victim} and your family cope and cooperate better with the treatment.

Mesothelioma cure

Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that is notoriously resistant to most forms of treatment. Most of the presently available forms of treatment such as surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy only offer palliative relief and not a cure.

Many scientific studies and clinical trials have tried find a cure for mesothelioma, but all have failed to come up with a cure.

Because mesothelioma is a rare cancer, attracting the necessary funding for the research to find a cure has been difficult, but recently as result increased public awareness about the disease, more people and specific interest groups are beginning to show more interest in supporting research for mesothelioma cure. Once good funding is available for research, the hope for a cure will become a tangible reality in the not too distant future.

Treatment Options


There are three main types of surgical treatments for mesothelioma: a}diagnostic surgery b}curative surgery c}palliative surgery. Some types of surgeries fall into more than one category. Thorancentesis{removal of fluid from the pleural space}which may be a diagnostic procedure may also be used as a form of palliative treatment to provide symptomatic relief. Curative surgery is aimed at removing if possible all cancerous cells from the body. Curative surgery is only recommended for the early stages of the cancer, that is stage 1 and stage 2.Unfortunately however mesothelioma is not usually diagnosed until it has reached an advanced stage that is stage 3 and stage 4, when curative surgery is no longer relevant.


Chemotherapy is an effective treatment option but it has a lot of side effects. Chemotherapy involves the use of anticancer drugs which are usually given intravenously. Examples of such drugs are Alimta and Cisplatin. Anti cancer drugs target and kill cancer cells by inhibiting their rapid and haphazard multiplication and division. These drugs are however not specific in their mode of action and they end up killing some normally dividing healthy cells causing most of their unpleasant side effects associated with use of anti cancer drugs.

Newer chemotherapy drugs are generally more effective than the older drugs. A new form of chemotherapy called heated chemotherapy which involves the perfusion of heated chemotherapy drugs into the peritoneum following surgery is used for the treatment of peritoneal mesothelioma.


Radiotherapy or radiation therapy is the use of high energy rays to kill the cancer cells. This form of therapy is usually used in combination with surgery. Radiotherapy may also be used as a sole therapy to relieve pain and some other symptoms associated with mesothelioma. Radiotherapy generally gives short term symptomatic relief. There are two types of radiotherapy therapies.

a-External beam radiation which is the commoner type in which radiation beam is directed unto the affected area of the body from an external source.

b-Brachytherapy or internal radiotherapy; This is a newer type of radiotherapy in which tiny radioactive rods are implanted into the tumor area of the body to provide a strong concentrated dose of radiation to the tumor while doing very little damage to the surrounding normal healthy tissues.

4-Photodynamic Therapy

This is a form of highly specialized and specific form of treatment that uses light energy to kill cancer cells, it is used to treat skin cancers, some types of lung cancers, and pleural mesothelioma.

This form of treatment is however not suitable for patients with metastasized cancers, it is most effective in patients with localized form of mesothelioma. Photodynamic therapy involves giving the patient an intravenous solution of a medication that makes the cancer cells highly sensitive to a particular kind of light. One to two days after their treatment, the patient is exposed to light, and the cancer cells that have absorbed the medications are killed.

Bello kamorudeen.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Mesothelioma Staging Systems-How Do You Stage Mesothelioma

Most known cancers have various staging systems which have been developed to aid doctors and physicians in the diagnosis and treatment of individual cases of cancer.

Pleural mesothelioma is the only form of mesothelioma that has been successfully staged as it is the commonest type of the disease.There are three different staging systems used to determine the extent of pleural mesothelioma, each one of these three different staging systems measure different aspects of the cancer,including the size of the tumor, the level of spreading{metastases}and the probable involvement of lymph nodes. The stage of mesothelioma at the time of diagnosis determines to a very large extent the type of treatment prescribed by the doctor.

Butchart System

The Butchart System is the oldest staging system for malignant mesothelioma and is the one most commonly used by doctors and specialists to diagnose and treat the tumor. The Butchart System is based on the tumor size (mass) and divides malignant mesothelioma into four stages:

* Stage 1 - Malignant mesothelioma has affected the right or left side of the chest cavity (pleural lining) and may be seen in the diaphragm.

* Stage 2 - Malignant mesothelioma has been found in the pleura on both sides of the body and may have also moved into the heart, stomach, or esophagus on both sides. Lymph nodes may be affected.

* Stage 3 - Malignant mesothelioma has reached the abdominal cavity (peritoneum). Lymph nodes past the chest may be affected.

* Stage 4 - Malignant mesothelioma has reached other organs and has entered the blood stream.

TNM System

The TNM System is a more modern staging system for malignant mesothelioma. The TNM System is based on the extent of the tumor, metastasis, and lymph node involvement. Again, the TNM System divides malignant mesothelioma into four stages: * Stage 1 - Malignant mesothelioma is present in the left or right chest cavity (pleura) and may have metastasized to the lung, the sac around the heart (pericardium) or the diaphragm on the same side. Lymph nodes at stage 1 are not involved.

* Stage 2 - Malignant mesothelioma has reached from one side of the chest cavity to a lymph node near the lung area on the same side as the cancer. The cancer has metastasized to the diaphragm, pericardium (sac around the heart), or the lung on the same side as the primary tumor.

* Stage 3 - Malignant mesothelioma has penetrated the chest lining, heart, esophagus, muscle, ribs and vital organs within the chest cavity on the same side as the cancer. Lymph nodes may or may not be involved during this stage.

* Stage 4 - Malignant mesothelioma has metastasized to the pleural area and the lymph nodes on the opposite side of where the cancerous tumor is located. It may also have reached the chest cavities or lungs on both sides, or may have spread to the abdomen.

Brigham System

The Brigham System is the most modern of the three malignant mesothelioma staging systems. The Brigham System looks at different variables such as the involvement of the lymph nodes and the surgical ability to remove a malignant mesothelioma tumor (resectability). For this reason, it is not used very often to stage mesothelioma, as the cancer is rarely operable. The Brigham System divides malignant mesothelioma into four stages:

* Stage 1 - Malignant mesothelioma tumor is still resectable (able to be removed surgically) and the lymph nodes are not affected.

* Stage 2 - Malignant mesothelioma tumor is still resectable, but the lymph nodes are now affected.

* Stage 3 - Malignant mesothelioma tumor is not resectable and the malignant mesothelioma has penetrated the heart, chest wall, abdominal cavity or diaphragm. Lymph nodes may or may not be affected.

* Stage 4 - Malignant mesothelioma tumor is not resectable and has completely metastasized (spread throughout the body).

Process of Staging Malignant Mesothelioma

When mesothelioma is diagnosed by a physician or specialist, they must determine the extent of the cancer and how far it has spread. Most often, they will use imaging procedures to see inside the chest or abdomen to help determine the staging of the malignant mesothelioma. The imaging options physicians may use include: * Chest X-ray * CT scan of the chest and/or abdomen * MRI scan of the chest and/or abdomen * PET of the chest and/or abdomen

Bello Kamorudeen

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Mesothelioma Diagnosis-How Do You Diagnose Mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is a serious cancer that advances quickly and aggressively. However the diagnosis of this type of cancer is not usually made until it has reached an advanced stage. This is mainly due to two reasons:

1-Mesothelioma has a very long latency period. In a typical case, between 20 to 50 years elapse between asbestos exposure and the onset of the first symptoms of the disease show up.

2-Most of the early and warning symptoms are not specific to mesothelioma; they often resemble symptoms of other conditions that are much less serious. For example, the early symptoms of pleural mesothelioma may look like those for influenza or pneumonia, and this can result in misdiagnosis.

The First Stages of Diagnosis

Mesothelioma patients are typically diagnosed within three to six months of their first visit to a doctor when they complain of breathing difficulties or chest and abdominal pain.

The first step involved in diagnosis is providing a full and accurate medical history to your doctor, this should include details about current and past health concerns, as well as the types of symptoms you are currently experiencing. A mention of any exposure to asbestos is essential. Without revealing this fact, your doctor may not consider asbestos-related diseases in his or her diagnosis. Next, patients will undergo a physical examination, where a doctor will examine for certain physical signs in different areas of the body that are suggestive of the diagnosis. Most likely, the doctor's next step will be to recommend further testing.

Diagnostic Tests

If your doctor has good clinical suspicion of an asbestos-related disease, he /she will then requests for certain to confirm the presence of mesothelioma, determine the location, size and type of cancer involved, and to determine whether the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. This will often involve imaging tests such as:

-Chest X-ray: This is the most commonly used imaging test for the diagnosis of mesothelioma. Almost all diagnoses will involve an x-ray but a more sophisticated test may follow.

-CT Scan: An x-ray-like procedure in which several x-ray pictures are taken and combined with a computer to produce a detailed image of body tissues. If you undergo a CT scan, you may be given an intravenous injection of dye that helps produce more detailed images.

-PET Scan: Glucose solution is administered via intravenous injection, and a scanner is used to spot deposits of cancer cells. Malignant cells take up and use sugars more quickly than normal cells, so they can be easily distinguished using this procedure.

-MRI Scan: A combination of radio waves and a strong magnetic field is used to create detailed three-dimensional images that can be carefully examined by a radiologist.

Fluid and Tissue Tests

These tests, also known as biopsy tests, involve collecting small samples of fluid or tissue and checking them for the presence of cancer cells. These tests are used to actually make a definitive diagnosis of the cancer. Such tests include:

* Fine Needle Aspiration: Mesothelioma cancers cause fluid to build up in affected locations, such as in the pleural membrane of the lungs. During a fine needle aspiration, the surgeon will remove a fluid sample using a very long, thin and hollow needle.

* Thoracoscopy: Thoracoscopy is used in cases where pleural or pericardial mesothelioma is suspected. During this procedure a very small incision is made in the chest wall, through which a sample of tissue is removed.

* Bronchoscopy and Laparoscopy: These procedures are similar to the thoracoscopy, but are performed on different parts of the body. The bronchoscopy is used to view the trachea and airway, while the laparoscopy is used to remove samples of peritoneal tissue.

* Mediastinoscopy: This procedure is used to view lymph nodes in the chest and neck, to determine if cancer has spread from its point of origin. What Should You Do After Receiving The Diagnosis? If you are diagnosed with mesothelioma, your doctor will recommend an "oncologist" (a doctor who has specialized in the treatment of cancers), who is well-versed in treating the disease and will help determine the best options for treatment.

Patients should also educate themselves about mesothelioma and treatment options and reach out to available resources to make coping with a mesothelioma diagnosis easier.

Bello kamorudeen.