Mesothelioma Cancer: A Rare but Serious Form of Cancer

Photo credit: Bigstockphoto
Photo credit: Bigstockphoto

Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer sometimes known as “asbestos cancer”. It has the unusual title of asbestos cancer due to the fact that most mesothelioma sufferers have been exposed to asbestos at some point in their life.

What you may ask is this substance called asbestos? Asbestos is a fibrous type material used in building insulation. It enters the general environment when asbestos containing building materials break down. Unfortunately, these breakdown products can rather easily enter the air and water supply causing serious health problems for those who inhale them. When inhaled they cause an inflammatory reaction in lung tissue that over time can develop into a mesothelioma or asbestos cancer. A rather unfortunate occurrence for the affected party.

Who is most susceptible to exposure to asbestos? People who work in asbestos related industries such as those that mine or make asbestos products, work in shipyards or do home remodeling involving asbestos products are most likely to be exposed to this dangerous fiber. If you have asbestos in your home you may also be at risk of exposure if you remodel your home or do any repairs which cause the material to scatter and become airborne.

It may be many years after exposure before the symptoms of mesothelioma occur. Sometimes mesothelioma doesn’t develop until as long as 50 years after the initial exposure! Persons who were exposed to asbestos as early as the 1950’s may now just now be developing symptoms due to the slow manifestation of this disease. Asbestos can also cause problems by entering the water supply from asbestos tainted pipes.

Diagnosis is made more complicated by the fact that initial symptoms are often vague. In fact, in the early stages, the affected party may have no symptoms at all! Since mesothelioma generally involves the pleural cavity of the lung, symptoms may include shortness or breath, cough, or chest pain. This makes diagnosis difficult in the early stages which decreases the rate of survival.

If you experience any of the above symptoms and have been exposed to asbestos at any point in your life, it’s important that you contact your doctor immediately. He or she can run appropriate tests and make the diagnosis. The earlier treatment is begun, the better the ultimate prognosis.

There are numerous treatment centers across the country dedicated to treating sufferers of mesothelioma. They are most commonly found around university based hospitals and often run clinical trials to determine better methods of treatment for mesothelioma. This is a big advantage as the patient can get up-to-date, state of the art treatment at these centers.

Hopefully, by being aware of the above symptoms and available treatments, the survival rate of those affected by mesothelioma can be maximized.


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