Mesothelioma is a type of cancer caused by asbestos exposure. In about 70% of cases, it occurs in the lining of the lungs, but it can also develop in the abdomen, heart or testicles. Testicular mesothelioma is the rarest type of the disease, and there are only about 100 reported cases. Asbestos is a natural mineral that can be used in construction and other industries, but when it interacts with other materials, asbestos fibers are released into the air. The fibers become trapped and travel throughout the body to the mesothelial cells, which are also present in the membrane lining that covers the testicles, called the tunica vaginalis.
Given the fact that there is little research about testicular mesothelioma, there is a lack of information about the disease. In addition to asbestos exposure, there is the possibility of other causes for its development. Similarly, patients with this type of cancer also have a better prognosis than patients with other forms of mesothelioma — the equivalent to between 20 and 23 months. Some of the known symptoms of the disease include buildup of fluid in the scrotum, lumps in the testicles, pain in the testicles and swelling of the scrotum.
How Swelling of the Scrotum Affects Patients with Mesothelioma
The tunica vaginalis is a membrane around the testicles composed of mesothelial cells, which is why it is susceptible to develop mesothelioma. The tunica vaginalis has two layers, which are known are parietal and visceral layers. Asbestos fibers can be trapped in tunica vaginalis, irritating the cells and causing the formation of nodules and tumors. As a response, the membrane becomes more thick. In addition, patients with testicular mesothelioma often suffer from a buildup of fluid in the scrotum, a symptom known as hydrocele.
The present of tumors or fluid are responsible for the swelling of the scrotum. However, misdiagnosis is particularly common. Patients usually start to be treated due to pain or discomfort in the testicles and physicians ask for a medical history, perform a physical examination, and request an ultrasound and a CT scan. However, testicular mesothelioma is often mistaken by a hernia and proper diagnosis is usually only done during surgery. Blood tests can also help improve the diagnosis, while the most accurate method of diagnosis is a biopsy.
Management of Swelling of the Scrotum by Mesothelioma Patients
There is no cure for mesothelioma, but surgery can help reduce the symptoms and increase life span. Chemotherapy with cisplatin and pemetrexed can help improve the results and radiation therapy may be used to kill any remaining cancerous cells and prevent reoccurrence. When the disease is diagnosed in early stages, chemotherapy and radiation therapy may not be required. However, testicular mesothelioma is classified as clinically aggressive, which means that it can spread fast. In cases when testicular mesothelioma metastasized and affected other parts of the body, or when it is a secondary tumor, palliative care may be the best option.
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