What’s the Link Between Asbestos and Mesothelioma?

What’s the Link Between Asbestos and Mesothelioma?

Residential homes, the building industry, and shipyards have come a long way since the days when asbestos was heavily used, after it was revealed that exposure to this substance could be deadly. Unfortunately, there has been an increase in individuals diagnosed with mesothelioma.

This type of cancer is predominantly caused by exposure to asbestos and is a grim reminder of the working and living conditions many people faced in the past. Asbestos is made of a naturally occurring mineral that is excellent for insulation, but poses an immense threat when breathed in.

How Does Exposure to Asbestos Cause Mesothelioma?

Asbestos fibers are not only microscopic, but highly durable, which is why it was so popular in the construction industry through the 1970s. When inhaled, it lodges in the outer lung tissue and can impact the production of lubricating lung fluid which allows the organ to expand, contract, and move freely. When combining this substance with other factors such as smoking, radiation exposure, and carbon nanotubes, it designates a lethal combination resulting in cancer. There are three types of mesothelioma, including:

  • Pleural – The most common form of the disease which affects the pleural membrane surrounding the lung and chest cavity. Inhaled fibers are the cause of this form of cancer.
  • Peritoneal – Less common than pleural mesothelioma, peritoneal forms on the surface of the membrane surrounding the abdominal cavity. Ingested fibers are the cause of this form of cancer.
  • Pericardial – The least common variety of the disease, pericardial mesothelioma affects the area that surrounds the heart, called the cardiac cavity. Researchers believe this form of cancer is due to asbestos lodging in the bloodstream.

What Symptoms Are Associated With Mesothelioma?

Although studies have made a direct link between mesothelioma and exposure to asbestos, the time between initial exposure and a diagnosis can range anywhere from 20 to 50 years, making it difficult to identify early. Mesothelioma symptoms can take a long time to present and are easily mistaken for everyday ailments.

Early warning signs include fatigue, cough, muscle weakness, fever, and night sweats, which tend to be ignored. Common symptoms of mesothelioma include:

  • Trouble Breathing
  • Pleural Effusion
  • Anemia
  • Trouble Swallowing
  • Coughing Blood
  • Bowel Obstruction
  • Nausea and Vomiting
  • Blood Clotting Disorder
  • Chest Pain
  • Peritoneal Effusion
  • Weight Loss

What Treatments are Currently Available for Mesothelioma?

Although there is no cure for this form of cancer, there are quite a few treatments for mesothelioma available to patients. One of the oldest treatments include radiation techniques aimed at shrinking tumors. Depending on the location and stage of the cancer, tumors may be able to be removed through surgical procedures. Additionally, chemotherapy is a treatment often used to prevent cancer cells from growing and multiplying in the body. Other options include experimental treatment that encompass clinical trials and palliative treatment which can help ease pain and suffering.

Mesothelioma continues to be one of the rarest cancers present in the United States, making it difficult to conduct the necessary research needed in order to evaluate effective treatment options. Stay in tune with your body and health and take note of any symptoms that may be associated with mesothelioma if you have been exposed to asbestos. The earlier you identify this disease, the easier it will be to treat.