Mesothelioma or Asbestos
Which Would You Like To Learn First?
What is Mesothelioma?
A type of cancer caused by inhaling or ingesting asbestos fibers and it gets its name because the cancer grows in the mesothelium which is the lining that surrounds many of the body’s internal organs. Approximately 3,000 cases are diagnosed each year in the U.S. This type of cancer is more common in older adults rather than young people.
It is important to be aware of what type of body changes can signify a potential problem. This asbestos-related cancer is difficult to diagnose and often is not recognized until the disease has reached the later stages. Many people and doctors mistake the warning signs for other common illnesses such as a cold or upper respiratory infection. If you have been exposed to asbestos, don’t wait until your symptoms have a negative impact on your life before you see a physician. The stage of cancer at the time of diagnosis determines life expectancy. It has been reported that about 25% of patients that have complained of dyspnea and chest pain waited up to 6 months before they saw a doctor. Learn more…
Types of Mesothelioma
About 75% of mesothelioma cases begin in cells that line the sacs of the chest, the pleura, which is the outer lining of the internal chest wall and lungs. Because the tissue which covers the heart (pericardium) is close to the pleura, this cancer sometimes spreads to the lining of the heart.
The lining of the abdominal cavity is called the peritoneum. It contains fluid which aids in keeping the contents of abdomen safe and accounts for approximately 25% of mesothelioma cases. This type of asbestos-related cancer usually does not spread to other parts of the body.
The least common type is pericardial mesothelioma which involves the heart. Cancer invades the sac which surrounds the heart (pericardium). As it progresses, the heart is unable to get oxygen to the body efficiently. This causes a rapid decline in health.
Doctors use four primary stages, Stage l, ll, lll, or lV, to determine the severity of a patients diagnosis of mesothelioma. These stages also determine the extent of cancer within the body. A lower stage number means you have more treatment options and a better chance for long-term survival.
Doctors use these stages to describe the cancer to patients and to one another about how advanced the cancer is, how many tumors there are and how far the cancer has spread within the body. It is an important assessment tool because once the doctor knows the stage of the cancer, he can then develop a table of treatment options where he will be able to determine which treatments are available and which are not. Watch the video or click on the button below to learn more.
Correct Answer: ASBESTOS
Tiny asbestos fibers can cause cancer of the mesothelium if they are inhaled (most common) or ingested. These fibers, if inhaled, will travel to the pleura through small air passages. As they pass through the mesothelium, they can cause inflammation and scarring which damage the cells’ DNA and those changes result in uncontrolled cell growth. If the fibers are swallowed, they may reach the abdominal lining which causes cancer in the peritoneum.
Social and political awareness to the dangers of exposure to asbestos has been a very slow process. Asbestos has been part of industrial products since approximately 1879. The first documented case of an asbestos-related cancer was in 1935 in the United States. Mining for asbestos became extremely popular at the beginning of the industrial revolution in the late 1800’s. As early as 1906 it was becoming apparent that the workers in these mines were dying unnaturally young. Learn more about the history of asbestos.
The types of asbestos have been divided into two groups. These two groups are labeled as Serpentine and Amphibole. Scientists have further divided these two groups and have identified six specific types of asbestos. Tremolite, Anthophyllite, Actinolite, Chrysotile, Amosite, and Crocidolite. There is one common factor in all six types of asbestos; these minerals are odorless and tasteless. If asbestos is made in a product, it is virtually undetectable unless tested in a laboratory.
Asbestos is a mineral that occurs naturally in the environment and the United States; it is most commonly found in Arizona, California, Alaska, and Washington State. Asbestos is commonly found in buildings and homes that were built before 1980. In buildings, such as your workplace, asbestos can be found near/in Sprayed ceilings, walls, columns, and beams, Water tanks, Ceiling tiles, Partition walls, etc. MORE IMPORTANTLY… The list of the most common places to find asbestos in the home can be found on our Community Blog page listed in our article, Most Common Asbestos Locations.
Mesothelioma Around the World
More than 2,600 people in the UK are diagnosed with asbestos-related cancer per year. At this rate, the United Kingdom is the leader in mesothelioma diagnosis cases. Learn more: Mesothelioma in United Kingdom
Asbestos and Mesothelioma has claimed more than 10,000 lives in Australia. This staggering number brings the AU to rank as the second highest death rate in the world. Learn more: Mesothelioma in Australia
Asbestos is the number one on-the-job killer in Canada. This deadly cancer has continued to rise and shows no signs of letting up anytime soon. Learn more: Mesothelioma in Canada
The People Affected by Asbestos the Most
Mesothelioma has been directly linked due to being exposed of asbestos. Asbestos had been used for almost 100 hundred years in industries such as manufacturing, construction, and shipbuilding. Almost every branch of the Armed Forces used asbestos until the 1970’s. It was used in vehicles, ships and aircrafts because it was highly regarded for its resistance to heat as well as its fire-proofing capabilities.
The group highest at risk are veterans who served their country during the years from 1940 to 1980. Military Veterans make up almost a third of all legal cases in addition to those who qualify for special benefits from the Veterans Administration. Watch video to learn more!
A firefighter’s job description is categorized as dangerous. Their job demands them to put out deadly fires and sometimes even enter burning / collapsing buildings. Aside from the obvious risk of getting burned, they are also exposed to asbestos. Burning buildings fill the air around them with this poison because asbestos is found in multiple housing foundation materials.
Prognosis & Life Expectancy
Malignant mesothelioma is a very aggressive disease, and unfortunately, it is usually not noticed until it is too late. This results to unfavorable prognoses for everyone around the world that is diagnosed with mesothelioma. Although new innovative treatments are showing to be promising, there still is no cure for mesothelioma. The best way to start improving your prognosis and life expectancy is to find a doctor that specializes in your particular type of mesothelioma (Pleural, Peritoneal, or Pericardial). Preferably, one with experience in multimodal treatments to start assessing the various treatments available immediately.
Once a diagnosis has been made the patient and doctor can begin to discuss treatment options. There are several types of treatment available including multimodal therapy, chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, immunotherapy, virotherapy, clinical trials, and various medicines. The treatment received will be decided on factors such as the stage of the cancer and overall health.
Learn more about your treatment options for mesothelioma.
If you want to do a search for mesothelioma specialists, we recommend starting with, “oncologists.” These doctors are recognized physicians who specialize in the diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment of cancer altogether. When someone dear to you is threatened by this 100% disabling disease, finding a mesothelioma doctor that you can trust is probably at the top of the list. To help you jump-start your search, view our compilation of some of the best Oncologists in the nation. Mesothelioma Doctors Near You.