A mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that affects the sac around your lungs, called the pleura. It doesn’t have a specific cause, but it can be caused by exposure to asbestos. Symptoms of mesothelioma include difficulty breathing and chest pain that worsens when you lie down or cough.
Mesothelioma is still detected in around 1 in every 10,000 people each year. It is most often diagnosed in the 60-70 year age group. Standard treatment for mesothelioma includes surgery, chemotherapy, and sometimes radiation therapy.
Mesothelioma is an aggressive form of cancer and is rarely curable. Survival rates are heavily dependent on the stage of diagnosis as well as other factors such as the type of cancer cell and your overall health.
The average survival rate after five years is around 4-23% depending on the type of Mesothelioma you are diagnosed with.
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Symptoms of Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer that affects the protective outer membrane (called the serous membrane) surrounding certain organs. Symptoms tend to be varied, depending on which organs are affected and how deep it has spread.
Symptoms of mesothelioma can vary from fatigue, weight loss, unexplained shortness of breath, and cough to more obvious symptoms like chest tightness and heartburn.
What to do If Someone is Diagnosed with Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is not always easy to identify, especially in its early stages. Cancer can grow deep within the body and show few symptoms for several years. Even it is diagnosed with mesothelioma, it has one of the worst survival rates of all cancers.
According to the NCI, from 2007-2011 only 18% of patients lived at least a year following their diagnosis.
Unfortunately, most new treatments offer little more hope than chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Doctors hope that ongoing research will lead to a better understanding of the disease and more successful treatment options in the near future.
For more than 70 years asbestos was used in many parts of the world, including the US, as a building material or insulation. Asbestos exposure is a major risk factor for mesothelioma.
Other possible causes include radiation exposure and some genetic factors. Some studies have even implicated certain forms of alcohol consumption, although these findings are still hotly debated.
How to protect yourself from mesothelioma?
So you think mesothelioma sounds like your worst nightmare? You’re right. It is. But rather than letting it happen, there are some ways to protect yourself from contracting this cancerous disease. Here are six of them that you need to know about:
- Wear a Respirator at all times when working with asbestos or around asbestos fibers. Even if you are just moving a panel in your garage, be sure to wear a respirator.
- Dress in long sleeves and pants when working around asbestos or when the dust is possible. This will help keep you from coming into direct contact with the asbestos fibers.
- Wear thick socks and closed-toe shoes whenever possible. The layer of cloth over your feet will help protect you from needle-like asbestos fibers that can penetrate through your skin like a syringe needle into the skin.
- When on a job site, use side-to-side eye and head movements, to watch for airborne fibers. Do not stare at an area or walk through it without being aware of the airborne fibers.
- Do not ever eat around areas that contain asbestos. If asbestos fibers get into your mouth, they will likely be swallowed as you eat your food. They will lodge in your digestive tract, which means they are less likely to be expelled from your body.
- If you have been around asbestos or asbestos fibers and are experiencing aches or pains, particularly in your chest, lungs, or abdomen, get to the doctor immediately. There is no time to waste and the pain could indicate an asbestos-related disease.
Follow these tips and you can avoid mesothelioma. If you do develop mesothelioma, contact a mesothelioma lawyer right away. They’ll help you understand your options moving forward.
There is still a lot to learn about mesothelioma. Doctors are not sure why only one-third of people who are exposed to asbestos develop the disease. It could be that some people have a genetic defect that leaves them vulnerable, or it could be related to the amount or type of asbestos they were exposed to.
For example, crocidolite asbestos, also known as blue asbestos is thought to be more dangerous than chrysolite or amosite asbestos and exposure may cause mesothelioma sooner.