The symptoms of pleural mesothelioma include:
- Chest pain
- Difficulty swallowing
- Fluid build-up in the chest (pleural effusion)
- Shortness of breath
Types of mesothelioma
Mesothelioma can be due to different types of abnormal cells, including:
- Epithelioid: This is the most common form and typically responds well to treatment.
- Dermoplastic: The rarest form of mesothelioma, which often involves the chest wall.
- Sarcomatoid: A rare type that is less likely to respond to treatment.
- Mixed: A combination of epithelioid and sarcomatoid cells.
Diagnosing pleural mesothelioma
We perform a physical exam and listen carefully as you describe your symptoms.
This information helps us determine the additional tests you need, which may include:
- Fluid sample: We insert a needle into the pleural space, where fluid is collecting and take a sample. Pathologists evaluate the sample in a lab.
- Video-assisted thorascopic surgery (VATS): We insert a tiny camera and surgical instruments through a small incision. The camera helps specialists guide the instruments to the suspicious tissue's location and take a sample (biopsy). Pathologists evaluate it in the lab.
- Endobronchial ultrasound: After numbing your throat and/or intubation, we insert a thin tube (bronchoscope) to access the cancer. An ultrasound imaging device at the tip uses soundwaves to capture detailed images. You may need this test if your doctor is concerned the cancer has spread to nearby tissue (lymph nodes).
Treatments for mesothelioma
We follow national mesothelioma care guidelines based in research, so you receive the treatments that are appropriate for your needs.
Surgery for mesothelioma removes cancerous tissue and a small area of healthy tissue. This may include part of the mesothelium and nearby tissue from a section of lung. We use minimally invasive options, such as VATS, whenever possible. In eligible patients, VATS may help you avoid a more complicated procedure.
Other mesothelioma treatments and services
Other therapies and services you may receive include:
- Medications: For early-stage pleural mesothelioma, treatment often includes chemotherapy. If mesothelioma comes back after treatment, immunotherapy (drugs that work with your immune system to destroy cancer cells) may be an option if you are eligible. We offer the latest options. Explore chemotherapy and other medical oncology.
- The tumor, and chemotherapy or immunotherapy can prevent it from growing. You may receive these treatments before or after surgery, depending on your circumstances. Find out more about radiation therapy.
- Palliative procedures: If you can’t have surgery, these procedures help you stay comfortable. We may make the cancer smaller to relieve pain. Other procedures remove excess fluid from the lungs, making it easier to breathe.
- Supportive care: If you have difficulty eating, dietitians recommend methods for getting the nutrients you need and maintaining a healthy weight. Find out more about supportive care.