Malignant pleural mesothelioma is the most common form of mesothelioma, which is a cancer affecting the mesothelium. Only around 3000 total mesothelioma cases are reported a year in the United States and the pleural form accounts for three-fourths of it. It affects the pleura, which is the lining that protects the lungs. The pleura is constructed with two membranous layers to shores up the lungs and shields the lung cavity. While the outer layer guards the chest cavity and diaphragm, the inner one called the visceral layer encompasses the lungs. Pleural mesothelioma usually attacks one of these layers initially but may spread to the other layer too. The cancer is invariably caused by the asbestos particles trapped in the spaces available between mesothelium cells after being inhaled.

The trapped asbestos particles trigger some chemical reactions resulting in the mesothelium cells to divide in an abnormal manner. This results in the pleural layers thickening and cause a certain fluid build up, called the pleural effusion. The excess fluid compresses the lungs and hinders easy breathing. Persistent dry cough, blood emission while coughing, difficulties with swallowing, breath shortness, unnatural weight loss, fatigue, lump formation around the chest etc are the most visible symptoms of mesothelioma attack.

Diagnosing pleural mesothelioma is fraught with dangers because these symptoms can be the result of other diseases like pneumonia and influenza too. It requires proper examination of the medical history of the patient, imaging tests like CT scan, MRI, X-ray and biopsy to establish the type and class of the cancer.

Conventional treatments for malignant pleural mesothelioma are surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. If the problem is so acute, doctors may combine two or all of these for pull off better effects. But mesothelioma prognosis is not always desirably bright because most cases are detected only at highly progressed stages. If diagnosed at the initial stage itself, the patient has more chances of survival.

As the cancer is caused by asbestos exposure, those suffering from malignant pleural mesothelioma are entitled to legal support and can claim compensation from those directly responsible for causing the infection. The amount, which may run to millions in some cases, can act as a financial cushion for medical expenses arising from the disease.

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