Mesothelioma

Asbestos is A naturally occurring mineral fiber. Asbestos is naturally extremely heat resistant and exceedingly resilient. It’s for this reason that manufacturers began using asbestos in building materials, insulation, gaskets and packing, clothing, and items that cause friction, such as vehicle brakes and many others. In fact, since the late 1800s, thousands of products have been made with asbestos, including everyday products like toasters and coffee makers.

By the 1930s, it was evident that inhalation of asbestos fibers was causing deadly lung disease years following initial exposure. In fact, asbestos fibers are so tiny, that they can be inhaled as dust from another person’s clothes or hair.

Asbestos exposure is strongly associated with several potentially fatal illnesses, the most serious of which is malignant mesothelioma. This aggressive cancer affects the lining of the lungs, heart, abdomen and other organs, and, as with all asbestos-related diseases, it often doesn’t manifest for years or even decades after the initial exposure. Because mesothelioma, asbestos lung cancer and other related diseases can almost always be attributed to asbestos exposure, you should tell your doctor about any past exposure, including your work or family history

Due to the health danger that asbestos poses, few products are now available to consumers containing asbestos fibers. However, countless deaths have resulted due to contact with products that previously contained asbestos. If you have concerns about specific asbestos-containing products, please contact our office with questions.

COMMON DISEASES ASSOCIATED WITH ASBESTOS EXPOSURE
Mesothelioma:

A form of cancer that affects the mesothelial cells lining the lung, chest cavity, abdominal cavity or heart cavity. The three main types of mesothelioma include pleural, peritoneal and pericardial, and typically involve tumors composed of cancer cells known as epithelioid and/or sarcomatoid mesothelioma cells.

Asbestosis:

The chronic inflammation and subsequent scarring of the lung that causes shortness of breath and is linked with an increased risk of lung cancer.

Lung Cancer:

The abnormal cell growth of lung tissues. The risk of lung cancer among people exposed to asbestos is seven times greater than that of the general population, especially in patients with a significant smoking history. Asbestos also causes lung cancer. For every case of mesothelioma, there are at least twice as many cases of asbestos-related lung cancer.

Other Related Cancers:

cancers of the larynx, pancreas, esophagus, colon, kidney, omentum (the fatty tissue layer covering the lower abdomen) and tunica vaginalis (inner lining of the testicular sac) have also been linked to asbestos exposure.

Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer, but it is extremely aggressive and will spread quickly in the body. This is why it is imperative that mesothelioma be diagnosed in early stages so that it will not spread. The most common type of mesothelioma is pleural mesothelioma and accounts for around 75 percent of all mesothelioma cases. The next most-common type is peritoneal mesothelioma and it accounts for around 20 percent of all mesothelioma cases. Pericardial and testicular mesothelioma account for 1 percent or less of all mesothelioma diagnoses.

2,500 to 3,000 new cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed in the United States each year.

Types of Mesothelioma

The four types of mesothelioma are:
· Pleural (lungs)
· Peritoneal (abdomen)
· Pericardial (heart)
· Testicular

The most common form of mesothelioma is pleural mesothelioma and it is formed in the thin protective lining of the lungs. The next most common type of mesothelioma is peritoneal, which forms on the thin protective lining of the abdomen. The two least common types of mesothelioma pericardial and testicular, they only make up about 2 percent of all mesothelioma diagnoses.

Pleural Mesothelioma

Pleural mesothelioma is the most common type and accounts for around 75 percent of all mesothelioma diagnoses. This cancer develops in the thin protective lining of the lungs.

The symptoms of pleural mesothelioma may or may not include:
Difficulty breathing
Dry cough
Chest pain
Difficulty swallowing
Fever
Night sweats
Lethargy/Fatigue

As with all mesothelioma cancer, your treatment options are dependent on the stage of the pleural mesothelioma. If your pleural mesothelioma is in Stage I or Stage II, then your options for surgery and treatment are more favorable than if your pleural mesothelioma is in Stage III or IV. During later stages of pleural mesothelioma, the goal is to minimize symptoms and improve your quality of life.

Peritoneal Mesothelioma

Peritoneal mesothelioma is the second most common form of mesothelioma and accounts for around 20 percent of all mesothelioma diagnoses. This cancer develops in the thin protective lining of the abdomen.

The symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma may or may not include:
Pain in abdomen
Swelling in abdomen
Loss of weight
Vomiting/Nausea
Diarrhea
Constipation
Lethargy/Fatigue

As with all mesothelioma cancer, your treatment options are dependent on the stage of the peritoneal mesothelioma. If your peritoneal mesothelioma is in Stage I or Stage II, then your options for surgery and treatment are more favorable than if your peritoneal mesothelioma is in Stage III or IV. During later stages of peritoneal mesothelioma, the goal is to minimize symptoms and improve your quality of life.

Pericardial Mesothelioma

Pericardial mesothelioma is one of the rarest forms of mesothelioma and accounts for around 1 percent of all mesothelioma diagnoses. This cancer develops in the thin protective lining of the heart.

The symptoms of pericardial mesothelioma may or may not include:
Heartbeat irregularity
Pain in the chest
Coughing
Breathing difficulty
Fever
Night sweats
Lethargy/Fatigue

As with all mesothelioma cancer, your treatment options are dependent on the stage of the pericardial mesothelioma. Unfortunately, pericardial mesothelioma is usually only found in the later stages of cancer. A surgery to remove a tumor near the heart is extremely difficult and risky.

Testicular Mesothelioma

Testicular mesothelioma is a very rare form of mesothelioma and develops in the thin protective lining of the testicles. Less than 1 percent of all mesothelioma cases are testicular mesothelioma.

The symptoms of testicular mesothelioma may or may not include:
Lumps on the testicle
Scrotum swelling

As with all mesothelioma cancer, your treatment options are dependent on the stages of the testicular mesothelioma. Surgery to remove the tumor is generally prescribed for patients if the testicular mesothelioma is in an early enough stage.

Causes of Mesothelioma

Asbestos exposure is the overwhelming cause of Mesothelioma in the United States. Typically, asbestos exposure usually occurred in an occupation or work environment. It is also well established, however, that working near others using asbestos products and household exposures (exposure from family members and their work clothes in the home) are known causes of Mesothelioma.

When microscopic asbestos fibers and dust are inhaled, these fibers can lodge in the lining of the lungs and chest cavity. The most common form of mesothelioma is pleural mesothelioma, which is a cancer in the thin lining around the lungs.

The symptoms don’t appear until later stages of the cancer, so it is very difficult to catch mesothelioma in its early stages. The latency period also is very long, so there is a large gap of time between when an individual is exposed to asbestos and when they develop mesothelioma.

The majority of mesothelioma diagnoses could have been prevented because, as early as the 1930s, companies selling asbestos and asbestos products knew that asbestos was extremely dangerous and potentially deadly. Regrettably, many companies did nothing about it, and the effects of those decisions are killing people today.

Common Symptoms of Mesothelioma

The symptoms of mesothelioma generally do not appear until the cancer has progressed into later stages. Even in late stages, the symptoms may be so slight or mirror common ailments that mesothelioma goes undetected. An individual may have been exposed to asbestos, but they may not develop mesothelioma for 20-50 years. So if you have knowledge that you have been exposed to asbestos at work, at home or by a product, then you need to provide that information to your physician.

The key to treating mesothelioma is catching it early before the cancer spreads throughout the body. The problem is that the symptoms generally don’t become noticeable until after the mesothelioma cancer has spread throughout the body. If you know that you have been exposed to asbestos and you are exhibiting any of the symptoms below, then see a physician immediately.

Here are some common symptoms of mesothelioma:
Wheezing dry cough
Difficulty breathing/Shortness of breath
Pain in chest or abdomen
Trouble swallowing
Coughing up blood
Nausea/Vomiting
Unexplained weight loss
Pleural effusion
Peritoneal effusion
Anemia
Fever
Night sweats
Fatigue/Lethargy
General weakness

Who is at Risk of Being Diagnosed With Mesothelioma

The majority of people diagnosed with mesothelioma are men over the age of 65. Asbestos was used in industrial jobs and the military, both of which had a high population of male participants.

These are the people who are most at risk:
Men are more likely to be diagnosed with mesothelioma.
Individuals older than 65 years of age.
Military veterans have been exposed to asbestos more than any other group.
Industrial workers such as mechanics, pipefitters, foremen, laborers and many more were exposed to asbestos on a daily basis.
Construction workers who came into contact with asbestos in buildings where they worked.
Firefighters deal with asbestos when they are battling fires or breaking down buildings, causing asbestos to be released into the air. Their protective equipment also contained asbestos because of its fire-resistant capabilities.
Individuals who dealt with piping insulated with asbestos.
Shipbuilders, shipyard workers and sailors had a high chance of being exposed to asbestos due to the materials used and the confined spaces where they worked.