“Meso… what now?” That’s the first thing that came into my head when I heard about mesothelioma. I have never heard about this form of cancer until I read an email from an organization that wanted to know if I could assist in bringing awareness about this disease. The more research that I did on this subject, the more I realized what a devastating disease this is, especially in the elderly.
What is Mesothelioma?
Mayo clinic defines malignant mesothelioma as a type of cancer that occurs in the thin layer of tissue that covers the majority of your internal organs, also known as mesothelium. This is a rare disease which is an aggressive and deadly form of cancer that kills approximately 2000-3000 patients annually in the US alone.
Type of mesothelioma
- Pleural (develops in the lining of the lungs)
- Peritoneal (forms in the membrane that lines the abdominal cavity)
- Pericardial (forms in the lining of the heart)
- Testicular (develops in the lining of the testicles)
Nearly 90% of all mesothelioma cases are pleural and peritoneal types. Pericardial and testicular mesothelioma are the rarest forms of this disease out of the 4 types.
Causes of Mesothelioma are :
- Asbestos exposure
- Radiation exposure
- Simian Virus (SV40) polio vaccine
The main culprit is exposure to asbestos at work, which is what I would like to talk about. Exposure to asbestos is responsible for almost 75% of mesothelioma cases. Asbestos is used widely in the field of construction, automotive, chemical plants and other industries. For those exposed to asbestos, they can easily inhale or swallow the microscopic asbestos fibers. Over time, these fibers accumulate in the lungs, and cause inflammation and scarring. This leads to respiratory problems and can lead to cancer. However, symptoms of mesothelioma may not appear until years later (anywhere from 20-50 years from initial exposure).Therefore, most people who are diagnosed with the disease are the elderly.
As you can see, these symptoms can be easily mistaken for something trivial and can be ignored. This makes mesothelioma difficult to detect and diagnose. By the time a diagnosis is done, it would be too late to go through any curative therapy. So, if there’s a high chance of asbestos exposure within your family, please do not take any of these symptoms lightly. Please go and consult your doctor. Make sure that you mention to your doctor about your families’ asbestos exposure levels.
There are treatments available for mesothelioma but the lack of awareness and a delayed diagnosis of the disease jeopardizes the possibility of a cure.
To learn more about mesothelioma , please visit Asbestos.com now.