Asbestos Mesothelioma is cancer within the lining cells of the lungs, and the chest cavity (peritoneum) or the lining of the heart (pericardium). Generally, patients diagnosed with Asbestos Mesothelioma have at some point in their lives come in contact with asbestos, either at home or at their jobs. Unfortunately, it takes many years for cancer to develop in these cases and people who were exposed as long as 50 years ago are just now being diagnosed. This is a very controversial cancer, resulting in many legislation changes regarding the use of asbestos and many lawsuits against the companies that continued to use the substance knowing it presented a potential serious hazard.
Asbestos is a fibrous material that was often used for its great insulating properties. When intact, the fibers perform effectively and provide no danger to humans. However, the fibrous material breaks down tremendously with age, and when the individual fibers are inhaled into the lungs, asbestosis may occur in exposed individuals. Asbestosis is a condition where the lungs develop scar tissue.
This scarring can and in most cases does result in the onset of Asbestos Mesothelioma. One of the most dangerous cancers known to the medical community, this condition has been the reason for controversy surrounding the use of asbestos at all. Generally, buildings with asbestos require complete removal and quarantine of all materials until inspections are performed.
In this type of cancer, the lining of the lungs becomes inflamed, cells grow abnormally and the condition is extremely painful for the patient. The condition can be either benign or malignant, both requiring treatment although only the malignant variety is known to spread to surrounding tissues and organs in the body.
The incubation period for this type of cancer can range from twenty to fifty years from the time of exposure. Many new cases are being discovered every day; however the number of new cases is anticipated to heavily decline as a result of removal and regulatory efforts regarding the use of asbestos.
Shortness of breath and chest pain are the two most commonly reported signs of asbestos Mesothelioma, however other symptoms may include rapid weight loss, abdominal pain and swelling, anemia, bowel obstruction and unexplained fevers. If you were ever exposed to asbestos and you experience these symptoms it is imperative to get to a doctor as soon as possible for testing.
If the cancer has spread, you may also experience trouble swallowing or facial swelling and pain.
Treatment for this type of cancer will vary on the patient, their general health and the stage of the disease. Commonly used treatment options are chemotherapy, radiation and in some cases surgery. Prognosis will be determined after complete testing, and will depend on the severity of the cancer.