Top 10 Things You Need to Know About Mesothelioma Cancer
Mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer that develops from the thin layer of tissue that covers many of the body’s organs. The two main types are pleural mesothelioma, which affects the pleura (the tissues surrounding the lungs), and peritoneal mesothelioma, which affects the peritoneum (the lining of the abdomen). It is almost always caused by exposure to asbestos fibers. However, this awful disease can be treated successfully in most instances if found early enough. Here are some top tips about this insidious disease.
What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that was widely used in industries such as construction, mining, and shipbuilding until they realized its health risks. Unfortunately, mesothelioma, a cancer that can develop as a result of exposure to asbestos, has a long latency period and may not present itself until 30, 40, or even 50 years after exposure. This prolonged latency period has led to a spike in mesothelioma diagnoses in recent years. Asbestos has been linked to a number of serious health conditions including lung cancer, asbestosis, and, of course, mesothelioma. People who have been exposed to asbestos can develop cancer, usually at some point in their lives. However, the type of cancer and onset depends on the type of asbestos, the amount of exposure, and the person’s genetic makeup.
Who Gets Mesothelioma?
Anyone who has been exposed to asbestos may go on to develop mesothelioma. This includes asbestos miners, asbestos factory workers, construction workers, people who work with asbestos in their profession, and workers who handle asbestos materials in demolition projects. There is a common misperception that only smokers develop mesothelioma. Although this is true in some cases, in many others, there is no connection between the two. In fact, most people with mesothelioma have never smoked.
Telling the Different Types of Mesothelioma Apart
Pleural mesothelioma is the most commonly diagnosed type, accounting for around 90-95% of all mesothelioma diagnoses. Peritoneal mesothelioma is less common, comprising around 5-10% of cases. This type of mesothelioma affects the lining of the abdominal cavity. Peritoneal mesothelioma is rarer than pleural mesothelioma and tends to be more aggressive. People with peritoneal mesothelioma usually respond less well to treatment. Squamous cell carcinoma is not technically classified as mesothelioma. It is a different type of cancer that can be caused by exposure to asbestos.
What are the Symptoms of Mesothelioma?
The symptoms of mesothelioma can be vague and can take a long time to become apparent. They are often misdiagnosed as other conditions, including lung cancer. Symptoms vary depending on the location of the cancer. People with pleural mesothelioma may experience chest pain, shortness of breath, coughing, and fatigue. For peritoneal mesothelioma, the symptoms are different. People with peritoneal mesothelioma often have abdominal pain, fatigue, and weight loss. As the disease progresses, symptoms become more severe. They include difficulty swallowing, swelling in the abdomen, and increasing fatigue.
Treating mesothelioma varies depending on the location of the cancer and the stage at which it is diagnosed. For pleural mesothelioma, surgery is often used to remove the tumor and a portion of the lung. Chemotherapy and radiotherapy are also used in the treatment of pleural mesothelioma. Due to the location of the pleural mesothelioma, the treatment will also likely affect the patient’s heart and diaphragm. For peritoneal mesothelioma, chemotherapy is used to reduce the tumor mass. Surgery is also used to remove as much of the tumor as possible. Due to the location of the peritoneal mesothelioma, radiotherapy is not used. Instead, chemotherapy is used to reduce the tumor.
How to Prevent Exposure to Asbestos and Stay Healthy
Unfortunately, once you have been exposed to asbestos, there is no way to reverse the effect. However, you can take preventative measures to ensure you don’t get the disease in the first place. If you are in a profession where there is a risk of asbestos exposure, take precautions to minimize your risk. If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma and have been exposed to asbestos, be vigilant about checking for symptoms. Early diagnosis is crucial in the treatment of mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma is a scary and serious illness that can take a long time to manifest. It is often diagnosed too late for treatment to be effective. However, if you have been exposed to asbestos and start showing signs of mesothelioma, it is important to visit your doctor as soon as possible. Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial to the successful treatment and prognosis of this disease.