The pleural sac, or plainly known as the pleura, contains a thin membrane called the mesothelium. It is the job of the mesothelium to secrete fluids that permits the lungs to expand and contract when breathing. Take a look at the image below to see the lungs, ribs and how the pleura insulates all these organs.
When a person inhales asbestos fibres, a build up of these fibres occurs in the lungs. Because these fibres are ultra small and microscopic, they can very easily penetrate through the walls of the lung and into the pleural cavity, and the abdominal cavity. As these asbestos fibres progress from the lungs into the pleural cavity, they destroy the mesothelium by mutilating and shredding it. Destruction of the mesothelium potentially leads to cancerous diseases such as mesothelioma.
As asbestos fibres assault the pleural cavity, malignant tumors can develop that can then stop the lungs from functioning normally (normal expansion and contraction of the lungs to flow blood within the body). Any malignant tumors can choke the lungs and press on the ribcage agonizing the sufferer with pain.
Also, since the lungs are responsible for oxygenizing the blood, it is very possible for cancerous cells to move to other parts of the body through injection of malignant tumors into these cells, that move through the bloodstream. Look at the diagram below of how cancer can form through injection of asbestos fibres into the pleural cavity. One side of the diagram shows a healthy lung with no cancer while the other side shows a lung that is damaged with cancer.
Symptoms of Pleural Mesothelioma
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Hemoptysis (coughing up blood)
- Loss of appetite, weight loss
- Cough and fever
As asbestos fibers jam into the delicate linings of the lungs and because they are so minute and thin, they can beat the body’s natural defenses. They build up in the narrow airways thus causing scarring and inflammation. This can lead to chest pain and chronic cough.