Mesothelioma, a disease linked to asbestos exposure, is a rare form of cancer in which malignant cells are located in the Mesothelium – a shielding sac that covers a large amount of the body’s internal organs. Malignant pericardial, malignant pleural and malignant peritoneal Mesothelioma are the three main types of Mesothelioma cancer. The peritoneal form involves the tissue covering the abdominal cavity and the pleural form involves the sac that protects the pleural cavity around the lungs.
Mesothelioma is frequently mistaken for lung cancer. Generally the symptoms of mesothelioma can include: cough, shortness of breath, husky voice, and difficulty in breathing, difficulty swallowing, abdominal pain and swelling, chest pain, anemia, insomnia, loss of appetite, cachexia, fatigue, weight loss, and fluid in the abdomen or chest. It is not easy to properly diagnose mesothelioma since numerous symptoms can be confused with other illnesses such as flu, bronchitis, pneumonia and heart disease.
Mesothelioma is caused by asbestos. No amount of asbestos exposure is harmless. Some mesothelioma victims have experienced occupational exposure to asbestos over a long period of time. An example would be a plumber, boilermaker or HVAC repairmen in the 1960’s; a time when many of the parts and equipment contained some asbestos. Some mesothelioma victims were exposed in a “secondary fashion” from the clothes of the person who was directly exposed. An example of this would be a woman who washes her husband’s work clothes and inadvertently inhales or ingests some of the microscopic asbestos fibers. A third category of victim would be someone who was exposed to only small amounts of asbestos through casual contact with an asbestos containing product. All forms of exposure can cause mesothelioma.
Today, there is still not a complete ban on asbestos containing products in the U.S. The EPA has, however, put in certain limits on the amount of asbestos that is permitted in some products. Nonetheless, because of the costs of litigation, many manufacturers of asbestos containing products have voluntarily removed asbestos from their products. Products from other countries, however, may still contain asbestos. For example, recent testing by the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization found asbestos in children’s toys coming from China.
Typically, 20 to 50 years elapse between asbestos exposure and the diagnosis of Mesothelioma cancer. This latency period varies by individual but is the reason that mesothelioma typically strikes seniors.
Although mesothelioma is a particularly aggressive cancer there are treatment options available including: standard therapies – surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, alternative or complimentary therapies and clinical trials. Clinical trials are a broad category that includes various types of treatments that are being tested. Currently these therapies include: Monoclonal Antibody Approaches, Anti-angiogenesis Drugs, Vaccine Approaches – Immunotherapies, and other “biological modifiers.”
There is a lot of disheartening Mesothelioma News and information on the internet regarding mesothelioma survival rate. Despite this pessimism, there are a few long term mesothelioma survivors including: Stephen Jay Gould, Rhio O’Connor, Paul Kraus, and others. In fact, Paul Kraus wrote an inspirational book about his recovery from mesothelioma titled “Surviving Mesothelioma and Other Cancers: A Patient’s Guide.” Today, “Surviving Mesothelioma” is the best-selling mesothelioma book in the world, according to a testimonial from a former brain surgeon. This Mesothelioma book has all the information a cancer patient needs to learn what survival behavior is all about.
DISCLAIMER: The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this article.