MESOTHELIOMA is a rare form of cancer (caused by exposure to ASBESTOS fibers) that attacks the MESOTHELIUM.
The mesothelium is a thin membrane or tissue formed by specialized cells that lines and protects vital organs in the chest and abdomen, such as the heart and lungs.
This membrane or tissue produces a lubricating fluid that enables these vital organs to move easily.
This form of cancer occurs when the mesothelial cells grow out of control, becoming a type of cancer that normally presents itself in malignant form and results in tumors in and around these vital organs.
The only known cause of malignant mesothelioma in the United States is by inhalation of asbestos fibers. Most people with this disease have worked on jobs where they breathed asbestos or have been exposed to these fibers in a household when people that work with asbestos brought it in on their work clothes.
ASBESTOS is a soft fibrous mineral, made into fireproof material or used for heat insulation.
The average life span of an inflicted person from the time of diagnosis until death is from 4 months to 3 years.
Asbestos-related cancers strike 2000 to 3000 United States citizens each and every year.
This form of cancer does not often manifest itself until years following the asbestos exposure. The shortest latency period (from the date of first exposure) for mesothelioma is roughly 5-10 years, although often it takes 25-40 years or more from the first exposure before the disease is diagnosed. There is no maximum latency period for it, since asbestos fibers remain in the lungs for life. People exposed in the 50's are being diagnosed now with the disease, just as people exposed to asbestos today may contract the disease in 2055.
TYPES OF MESOTHELIOMA
Pleural Mesothelioma: is the most common variation of this disease accounting for 80-90% of all cases. This is where the cancer affects the lungs and the protective lining and cavity of the lungs inside of the ribs (pleura.)
The symptoms result from pleural effusion, which is a build up of fluid between the lung lining and the chest cavity. Sufferers may experience symptoms like: breathing and swallowing difficulties, shortness of breath, persistent coughing, fever, coughing up of blood, pain in the lower back or the side of the chest, weight loss and rasping.
Peritoneal Mesothelioma: This is a rarer form where the cancer affects the stomach and abdomen. The cancer can start in the abdominal area (peritoneum) and spread to other parts of the body. For every person with the peritoneal form there will be about 12 people who have pleural form.
The symptoms are: Nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain, abdominal swelling, nausea, weight loss and loss of appetite, breathing problems, chest pain, diarrhea or constipation, anemia, fever, and blood clotting abnormalities.
Pericardial Mesothelioma: the rarest of the types. This is where the cancer affects the heart and the cavity and tissue that surrounds it.
The symptoms can include: chest pain, shortness of breath, trouble breathing, persistent coughing, and palpitations.
These symptoms are all more likely to be caused by some other illness, rather than by me-so-the-li-o-ma.
Benign mesothelioma is a noncancerous tumor of the pleura (lining of the lung and chest cavity).