Mesothelioma is a form of cancer that is quite rare involving malignant cells being found in the mesothelum. This area of the body is a protective sac that covers most of the body’s internal organs. Sadly, many who develop this form of cancer have gotten it from inhaling asbestos particles on a jobsite.
Reports from people who have acquired mesothelioma have increased over the last 20 years, but it is still a rare form. On average, there are around 2,000 new cases of the disease diagnosed every year in the United States. Although it is far more common in men than woman, it is possible for both genders to inherit it at any age.
The primary risk for mesothelioma is working with asbestos. Somewhere between 70 and 80 percent of all cases show a history of asbestos exposure at work, which is the leading cause for getting the form of cancer. Asbestos is widely used in industrial products such as cement, brake linings, roof shingles, flooring products, textiles, and insulation. As small pieces of asbestos particles float in the air, they can be inhaled or swallowed thus leading to the disease.
One of the troubling things with mesothelioma is that signs and symptoms do not become known right away. In fact symptoms can take as long as 30 to 50 years to appear. This can make it difficult to determine whether or not you are suffering from the disease. Some signs you will want to watch out for include shortness of breath, pain in the chest, bowel obstruction, blood clotting abnormalities, and fever.
While it is difficult to identify symptoms, it is equally difficult to diagnose the form of cancer. The reason for this is because the symptoms are similar to many other conditions. Diagnosis will begin with a doctor looking at your medical history and performing a complete physical exam. A biopsy is also needed in order to confirm the diagnosis.
If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, treatment will depend on the location of the cancer, the stage of the disease, your age and your overall health. Surgery is quite common as the doctor will remove part of the lining of the chest and some tissue around it. A lung may be removed as well. Other treatment options include radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
The good news is new treatment methods are constantly being looked at. While this is a hard disease to control, there are clinical trials that are being designed to find new treatments and better ways to handle the disease.