Understanding Mesothelioma

What is Mesothelioma?

This was supposed to be quite a rare form of cancer but have increasingly begun to be a common type. But what can you expect? More and more people are exposing their health to dangerous chemicals just so they could feed their families. The primary cause of mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos.

What happens?

After prolonged and excessive exposure to asbestos, malignant cells gradually developed in the mesothelium. Mesothelium is the lining that usually protects and covers internal organs like the lungs, the chest cavity, peritoneum (the lining of the abdominal cavity) and the pericardium, the sac around the heart.

How do you get exposed to asbestos? First off, if your job involves working with asbestos or exposure to its particles, you have a great chance of developing this form of cancer. Your family is also exposed to danger. Your wife for instance could be exposed to the danger if she washes off the asbestos from your clothes.

What are the Symptoms?

It is highly unlikely for you to show symptoms of mesothelioma until after 20 or even 50 years of exposure. The warning signs, however, include:

a. Shortness of breath

b. Recurring chest pain caused by the accumulation of fluids in the pleural space in the chest cavity

c. Weight loss

d. Cachexia

e. Abdominal pain

f. Abdominal swelling

g. Bowel obstruction

h. Blood clotting

i. Anemia

j. Fever

k. Difficulty or painful swallowing

l. Swelling of the face and neck

m. Fatigue or anemia

n. Wheezing o. Hoarseness

p. Frequent coughing and blood in the sputum

You may exhibit some or all of the symptoms depending on the kind of mesothelioma the patient has.

How do you get diagnosed?

It is difficult to diagnose mesothelioma because the symptoms are fairly similar to other types of diseases. Usually, a long history of asbestos exposure raises the suspicion for this type of cancer. The patient shall be subjected to various exams like x-ray, lung function tests, CT scan, MRI, aspiration of chest fluid like pleural tap or chest drain. The patient may also be biopsied if cytology reports came back positive. His tissue may be subject to pathological study. He may be subjected to thoracoscopy as well. If the cancerous tissue is found in the abdomen, the physician may recommend a laparoscopy.

Can this be treated?

Sadly, the prognosis of patients positively identified with mesothelioma is poor. Conventional treatments do not seem to work well. The survival rate is a year at most after presentation. Surgeries are typically unsuccessful most likely because it is difficult to remove the entire cancerous tissues without damaging the internal organs or killing the patient.

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