Have You Been Exposed to Asbestos?

Have You Been Exposed to Asbestos?

If you or a loved one has been exposed to asbestos fibers (which are commonly found in construction materials), you should read the following information concerning a rare form of cancer called Mesothelioma. Once symptoms appear, your treatment options are greatly reduced. Early diagnosis is the key to prolonging life and increasing the quality of life.

What is Mesothelioma?

• The thin cellular layer that lines our body’s internal organs is known as the mesothelium. Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer, which occurs in the mesothelium.

• Usually, this type of cancer is concentrated around the patient’s lungs, in the pleural tissue. This type of Mesothelioma is known as Pleural Mesothelioma, and it accounts for 70% of all diagnosed cases.

• Mesothelioma may also appear in the peritoneum (the lining of the abdominal cavity), 25-30% of diagnoses are of this variety.

• When Mesothelioma occurs in the pericardium (the lining around the heart), this is known as Pericardial Mesothelioma. This is the most rare form of the disease and occurs in less than 5% of all cases.

What are the causes of Mesothelioma?

The overwhelmingly primary cause of all varieties of Mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos. From the late 1800′s until very recently, asbestos was a fundamental resource for building materials. This means that people involved in the building process, plumbers, carpenters, and electricians, are the highest risk group for exposure. It is also believe the asbestos fibers which cling to clothing may also have exposed anyone doing the laundry of an exposed worker.

Unlike lung cancer, tobacco smoking does not cause Mesothelioma; however, smoking tobacco does seem to increase the risk or someone who is exposed to asbestos to develop Mesothelioma.

What are the symptoms of Mesothelioma?

Unfortunately, there are virtually no early symptoms of Mesothelioma. Once symptoms do appear, the disease has already progressed to a dire point. For this reason, anyone who has been exposed to asbestos is best served by preemptive x-rays to check for any sign of the disease.

Later Signs of Pleural Mesothelioma:

• Difficulty swallowing

• Night Sweats

• Unexplained Weight Loss (of greater than 10%)

• Fever

• Fatigue

• Chest Pain

• Difficulty, or Pain with Breathing

• Possible Lumps on the Chest

Later Signs of Peritoneal Mesothelioma:

• Night Sweats

• Fever

• Unexplained Weight Loss

• Abdominal Swelling (possibly with pain)

• Anemia

• Fatigue

• Constipation or Diarrhea

• Nausea or Vomiting

• Possible Lumps on the Abdomen

Later Signs of Pericardial Mesothelioma:

• Heart Palpitations

• Irregular Heart Rhythm

• Chest Pain

• Shortness of Breath (or difficulty breathing)

• Fever

• Night Sweats

• Fatigue

What is the treatment for Mesothelioma?

There is no cure for Mesothelioma. The treatment is the same as lung cancer: surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. There are also new cutting-edge therapies that are attempting to eradicate Mesothelioma. These include: phototherapy, gene therapy, and immunotherapy.

What is the prognosis for Mesothelioma?

While treatment does increase one’s chance of a prolonged life, as well as possibly increasing one’s quality of life, in 2006, the five year survival rate for all persons diagnosed with Mesothelioma, was a mere 5%.

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