Mesothelioma is a malignant tumor that usually develops in the pleura. The pleura is a membrane that sits between the ribs and the lungs. Mesothelioma often grows from the pleura to the organs near the pleura. For example to the lungs, diaphragm, and organs in the abdomen. Mesothelioma grows fast and is usually not curable. On average, people still live for 13 to 15 months after being diagnosed.
The cause of mesothelioma is almost always asbestos exposure. That is why this disease is also called asbestos cancer. Asbestos is a material that used to be widely used in the construction of houses and other structures. Most people with mesothelioma are men who have worked in construction, heavy industry or at a shipyard.
Where does mesothelioma arise?
Mesothelioma usually develops in the pleura. Sometimes in another membrane:
5 to 10% in the peritoneum: the membrane around the digestive organs
less than 1% in the heart bag: the membrane around the heart
less than 1% in the membrane around the testes
All these membranes are so-called serous membranes. Serous membranes surround organs: between the inside of a body cavity and the outside of the organs in that body cavity. The serous membranes consist of a special layer of cells: the mesothelium. Mesothelioma can develop in the mesothelium due to asbestos exposure.
The chest seen from the front and top.
1: pulmonary, 2: pleura, 3: lungs, 4: windpipe, 5: heart, 6: heart bag, 7: vertebra
In the chest are the right lung and the left lung. The lungs are made of elastic, spongy fabric. The right lung consists of 3 lung lobes and the left lung consists of 2 lung lobes.
The heart is between the lungs. There is a fleece around the heart: the heart pocket.
Pleura and pulmonary membrane
There are 2 serous membranes around each lung: the pleura and the pulmonary membrane. The pulmonary membrane is directly around the lung. The pleura surrounds the pulmonary membrane and covers the inside of the ribs.
There is a thin layer of moisture between the ribbed membrane and the pulmonary membrane: the pleural fluid. This moisture ensures that the membranes glide past each other easily when breathing in and out.
What is cancer?
Cancer is uncontrolled division of body cells. They spread all over body slowly and slowly. Cancer can occur almost anywhere in the body. There are likely 100 types of cancer. All of these types have the same characteristic of uncontrolled cell division. The rate at which uncontrolled cell division takes place is different for each type of cancer. Some cancers therefore also cause symptoms faster than others.
Paper about cancer
Do you want to make a paper or give a talk about cancer? View our page with tips & tricks. Cells, DNA and genes. The human body consists of approximately 3 billion cells. The body always makes new cells. This allows the body to grow and replace damaged and old cells. New cells are created by cell division. Cell division means that 2 new cells arise from 1 cell.
Each cell contains information that determines when the cell must start sharing and then stop again. And also which function the cell must perform. This information is at the core of the cell.
The information is in pieces on the DNA. Such a piece is called a gene. The human DNA has approximately 30,000 genes. Every gene has its own code. This code tells the cell how to behave. This is usually in the form of a protein. The DNA consists of different strands called chromosomes. Every human cell has 23 pairs of chromosomes. 1 pair consists of 2 chromosomes. Half of the chromosomes come from the mother, the other half from the father. That is why DNA is also called hereditary material.
How cancer cells behave differently?
A cancer cell has several mutations. This makes the cancer cell behave differently than a normal cell. An important difference with normal cells is that cancer cells are less specialized. Normal cells specialize in a specific cell type with a specific function. With other cells around them, they form a specific tissue or (part of) an organ. The growth and division of the normal cells slow down. Cancer cells often have no specific function, so they continue to divide without stoppage. Cancer cells can also avoid certain signals. Often these are signals that tell normal old or damaged cells to stop sharing. These cells then die off to make room for new healthy cells. By avoiding the signals, the cancer cells can continue to exist.
Cancer cells are also often able to influence normal cells. An example: cancer cells can drive normal cells to form blood vessels to and from the tumor. This way the tumor gets oxygen and nutrients and the cancer cells can continue to grow and divide.
Moreover, cancer cells can bypass the immune system. The immune system cleans up abnormal and damaged cells. But cancer cells often escape this.
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