The Mesothelioma Knowledge Source
What is mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is a form of cancer affecting the abdominal cavity, chest cavity, and the region surrounding the heart. Due to its uncommon nature, mesothelioma is typically difficult to diagnose and treat. It has been connected with exposure to asbestos, a material formerly present in many work environments. Only about 3,000 individuals are diagnosed annually.
Individuals with a history of extended asbestos exposure are at the highest risk for developing malignant mesothelioma. Even a small exposure to this cancer-causing material can result in malignant mesothelioma. However, mesothelioma has a latency of up to thirty-forty years, and many individuals previously exposed to asbestos are now displaying symptoms. This means the average age of mesothelioma patients is between 50 and 70 years. Men are typically affected more, due to the common presence of asbestos in industrial settings. There are three major types of malignant mesothelioma . epithelial, sarcomatoid, and mixed. Epithelial mesothelioma is most common. Symptoms may include, but are not limited to respiratory distress, a lasting cough, and pneumonia. In addition, symptoms are often mistaken for less serious ailments, and many patients do not show any signs at all.
Individuals with pleural mesothelioma may accumulate some fluid between the lung lining and chest cavity. This can be detected through a chest x-ray, as well as CT scans.
Diagnosis of Mesothelioma is based on a pathological exam, more commonly referred to as a biopsy. This exam will test a tissue sample for the presence of malignant and/or pleural mesothelioma.
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Asbestos as the Primary Cause of Mesothelioma
Asbestos is a type of insulation material, which was used widely in the past in the following industries:
- Construction industry
- Ship building industry
- Automotive industry
- Other manufacturing industries
Mesothelioma occurred most often in persons who worked in the above industries and were exposed to asbestos in their workplace. The use of asbestos was very widespread after 1945. However, first symptoms of mesothelioma may not become apparent 10-40 years after the initial exposure, which makes it very hard to diagnose. The peak in mesothelioma cases is expected to be reached around 2010 according to some studies. There are three most commonly used types of asbestos: white, brown, and blue. Brown and blue asbestos are most commonly associated with mesothelioma. These types of asbestos have been banned by most countries in the 1990s.
Asbestos is a very dangerous substance and can cause a lot of damage to your health. It is made up of very small fibers, which can find their way to pleura (outside lining of the lung) and damage the cells pleura is made of. These fibers can also be carried on clothing, which makes them dangerous not only to the person exposed to asbestos, but to their family members as well.
Note of Urgency
Mesothelioma is a life-threatening disease and cannot be left untreated. The sooner it is diagnosed the better a patient's chances are of fighting this deadly cancer. Please contact a qualified physician immediately if you or someone you know has been diagnosed with mesothelioma.