What are asbestos? Asbestos are mineral fibers that can be separated into thin, durable threads. These fibers are resistant to heat, fire, and chemicals and do not conduct electricity. These minerals have been used widely in many industries. Chemically, asbestos are silicate compound of silicon and oxygen atoms in their molecular structure. The building and construction industries use asbestos for strengthening cement and plastics as well as for insulation, roofing, fireproofing, and sound absorption. The shipbuilding industries insulate boilers, steam pipes, and hot water pipes with these minerals. For their vehicle brake shoes and clutch pads, the automotive industry makes use of these fibers. Asbestos materials are also used in ceiling and floor tiles paints, coatings, adhesives, plastics and many others.
In recent years, due to widespread public concern about the health hazards of asbestos, domestic consumption had significantly dropped. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, the EPA and the International Agency for Research on Cancer, studies show that constant exposure to asbestos caused an increase in asbestosis syndrome, mesothelioma, gastrointestinal, colorectal cancers and other diseases. Early stage asbestos lung cancer is hard to detect because of lack of apparent symptoms. It usually begins in the bronchial lining or the bronchioles, lung air sacs and trachea. The cancer develops slowly but can spread and invade other parts of the body.
Like any other type of lung cancer, the diagnostic tests include physical exams, x-rays, ct scans, imaging tests, PET scan and biopsies. During the diagnostic procedures, you should provide the medical team with vital and relevant information on the extent of asbestos exposure. Factors such as how long has been the exposure, estimated volume of exposure, source, size, shape and chemical make- up of asbestos fibers, whether you are a smoker or non-smoker and current lung problem are important things your doctors should be aware of. With regards its chemical make-up, studies have suggested that if the exposure is with the amphibole asbestos rather than the chrysotile, the risk of developing malignant mesothelioma lung cancer is greater because of the tendency of the amphibole fibers to lodge in the lungs for a long time.
Asbestosis is a disease in which asbestos fibers can cause scarring, inflammation of tissues and growth of non-malignant tumors in the lungs. They are benign and do not spread to the other organs. On the other hand, with mesothelioma, the growth of tumors that occurs in the serious thin membrane linings are malignant and they grow fast and spread to the other organs. When it occurs in the lungs, it is called pleural mesothelioma. It is a rare type of lung cancer. You can detect it by x-rays and confirm by biopsy test. Traditional treatments recommended by a medical team depending on individual evaluation include radiation therapy, surgery and chemotherapy.
Prognosticating mesothelioma reveal serious mortality rates. Factors which affect prognosis are area of cancer, stage, histology, patient’s general health, age and response to treatment. Survival rate for patients with high level of white cell counts, presence of SV40 virus and certain biochemical markers from date of diagnosis is only a few months. The median life expectancy rate is about a year.
There are still many work environments and trades in which people are constantly exposed to asbestos. You may belong to any of these groups. Some of them are operational engineers, steamfitters, sheet metal workers, pipe fitters, plumbers, metal lathers, merchant marine, firefighters, shipyard workers, industrial plant workers, plumbers, construction workers, asbestos plant workers, boilers, longshoremen, railroad workers, industrial painters, workers in glass factory, schools, power plants, cement plants, military, hotels, telephone companies, oil refinery, loading docks, hospitals, chemical plants, heating and air-conditioning, boiler or engine rooms, etc.
If you happen to believe having a prolonged exposure to asbestos and are experiencing abnormalities, it is to your best interest to undergo a comprehensive physical exam. You should have a complete x-ray of the front, back, side, and oblique views. Other tests are pulmonary function test, blood work, a CT scan, etc. Request your doctors to explain to you what the tests reveal. It you are diagnosed with a lung cancer from asbestos, have the courage to face it frontally and disclose your condition to your loved ones. Ask for their support and prayers. Seek a second opinion. Lastly, pray for supernatural healing!