Mesothelioma A Cancer Caused By Asbestos

Mesothelioma A Cancer Caused By Asbestos



The internal organs of​ the​ human body are encased in​ a​ protective sac called the​ mesothelium. Examples of​ mesothelilial membranes are the​ peritoneum (abdominal organs), pleura (lungs), and​ pericardium (heart).

Under specific conditions, the​ cells of​ the​ protective membrane divide uncontrolled and​ become cancerous. This disease is​ termed as​ Mesothelioma, a​ rare form of​ cancer which is​ caused by prolonged exposure to​ asbestos dust.

The disease is​ found to​ occur among those who work in​ shipyards, asbestos mines and​ factories, industries that produce asbestos based products, and​ the​ heating and​ construction businesses. Approximately 3,000 cases occur each year in​ the​ US, and​ most patients are between 50-70 years old. Statistics show that males are commonly affected and​ among them whites more than African Americans.

First studied in​ the​ late 1700s in​ depth studies were only done in​ the​ 1960s. Tumors of​ the​ Mesothelioma can be benign or​ malignant. the​ malignant Mesothelioma are categorized into three types:

• Epithelioid, accounting for​ 50-70% of​ mesotheliomas.

• Sarcomatoid, accounting for​ 7-20%.

• Mixed or​ bi-phasic, accounting for​ 20-35%.

When asbestos fibers are breathed into the​ lungs they travel through large air passages to​ reach the​ smaller passages and​ from them the​ pleura. in​ the​ pleura they damage: the​ mesothelial cells leading to​ cancer; lung tissue causing lung cancer; and​ the​ development of​ scar tissue within the​ lungs known as​ asbestosis. When asbestos fibers are swallowed they reach the​ abdominal cavity and​ cause peritoneal mesothelioma.

Research reveals that the​ disease only manifests 20-50 years after being exposed to​ asbestos dust. the​ symptoms are not specific to​ the​ disease but a​ patient may develop:

• Breathlessness.

• Chest pain accompanied by tightness believed to​ be caused by accumulation of​ fluid in​ the​ pleura.

• Low back pain.

• Swelling of​ face and​ arms.

• Sensory loss.

• Muscle weakness.

• Nausea.

• Vomiting.

• Weight loss that is​ unexplained.

• Persistent dry cough.

• Sore throat.

• Anemia.

• Fever.

• Constipation.

• Problems with blood clotting.

Since the​ above are common to​ minor ailments, patients often ignore the​ symptoms. it​ is​ advisable to​ consult a​ doctor if​ any of​ the​ above symptoms persist or​ if​ you feel you have been knowingly or​ unknowingly exposed to​ asbestos.

A doctor will:

• Take down a​ detailed medical history and​ try and​ determine the​ symptoms and​ risk factors.

• Do a​ thorough physical examination and​ check for​ signs of:

o Pleural effusion, fluid accumulated in​ the​ chest cavity.

o Fluid in​ the​ abdominal cavity.

o Pericardial effusion, fluid in​ the​ lining of​ the​ heart.

• Take a​ chest x-ray and​ check for​ thickening of​ the​ pleura, calcifications, and​ lowered lung fissures.

• Ask for​ a​ CT scan to​ determine clearly the​ location, size, and​ extent of​ the​ problem if​ any is​ suspected.

• Recommend tests of​ tissue samples and​ pleural fluids.


Other risk factors are cigarette or​ cigar smoking, exposure to​ radiation, exposure to​ zeolite a​ compound that is​ similar to​ asbestos, exposure to​ or​ infections caused by SV40, a​ Simian virus.

Those who work in​ a​ risky environment should wear protective clothing, have the​ surroundings tested regularly for​ suspended asbestos particles, and​ ensure that they have regular medical tests and​ report to​ the​ doctor any ailments that persist.

Being aware of​ the​ disease and​ its problems helps.




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