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What is Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is a serious and rare form of lung cancer.   Women are affected far less frequently than men by this form of cancer and it affects all races equally.  Mesothelioma statistics suggest mesothelioma incidence of  1.8 in the US and 0.9 internationally for every 100,000 people.   The number of people who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma has increased significantly in the past 30 years.  Although many advances in treatment have been made, there is no cure for this type of cancer. Early detection of the disease however allows doctor to use more effective and more powerful treatment options.

In mesothelioma, the cells of the mesothelium become cancerous and grow out of control. The mesothelium is a protective, two-layered membrane that covers the internal organs of the body including the lungs, heart and abdominal organs. Between these layers, the cells produce fluid, which allows easy movement of the heart and lungs within the chest cavity.  The layer that covers the lungs is called the pleura, and the layer that covers the heart is called the pericardium. The peritoneum lines the abdominal cavity.  Mesothelium also lines the male and female reproductive organs.   Mesothelioma can affect any of these cells, but is usually seen in the pleural or peritoneal mesothelium. The following are various types of mesothelioma and pleural is the most common form. Pleural Mesothelioma   *    Peritoneal Mesothelioma  *   Pericardial Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma Symptoms

Mesothelioma develops many years after exposure to asbestos. Sometimes, it may be 30 to 40 years before symptoms occur. Unfortunately, in the early stages of the disease, symptoms may be vague or not noticeable. Thus, if you have been exposed to asbestos in the past, even for a very brief time, it’s important to have regular check-ups to detect any lung abnormalities, even if you don’t have symptoms.

Early detection of the disease allows doctor to use more effective and more powerful treatments. For this reason, one should watch carefully for any of the symptoms of mesothelioma.

Symptoms of Mesothelioma may include:

Coughing , Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing , difficulty Sleeping , Weight Loss , Pain in chest and abdomen ,  Fluid in the chest .

Usually, difficulty breathing and a lingering cough bring patients into the doctor for evaluation. This occurs because tumors of the mesothelium make if hard for the lungs to expand smoothly.  When fluid builds up in the pleura, breathing can be even more difficult while lying down, making it hard to sleep. The spread of cancerous cells takes a toll on patient's body, causing weakness, extreme fatigue. Changes in your body’s ability to absorb nutrients as a result of invasion into the abdomen can cause weight loss. If the cancer has spread beyond the mesothelium to other parts of the body, symptoms may include pain, trouble swallowing, or swelling of the neck or face.

Depending on the type of mesothelioma, slightly different symptoms can occur. Peritoneal disease has an effect on the intestines, liver and other structures in the abdominal cavity. As fluid builds up, the abdomen can become very expanded. Because the liver plays a big part in manufacturing the substances needed to control bleeding, there is often a change in your ability to make blood clots. Weight loss occurs for several reasons, and is more dramatic in this form of the disease.

The pleural form of mesothelioma can also cause damage to the upper airway. Swallowing can become difficult, and voice changes can occur if the larynx is affected.

Specific symptoms of Pleural Mesothelioma:

  • Pain in the lower back
  • Pain in the side of chest
  • A persistent cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Husky voice
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Fever

Mesothelioma Risk factors

The primary risk factor for developing mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos. Between 70-80% of people diagnosed with mesothelioma have been exposed to asbestos, usually in the workplace.  Although it is possible to develop mesothelioma without any exposure to asbestos, it is very rare.  Symptoms frequently take 20 years to develop, but can take as long as 50 years to occur.  While one person for every million people in the US will be diagnosed with mesothelioma, about 7-13 men who have been exposed to asbestos will be diagnosed with the disease. Continue to read more about mesothelioma Cancer


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This is meant to be an informational exercise and NOT a medical consultation. Your doctor is the only one who can best assess your situation and offer you medical advice. More resources concerning lawsuits, information about attorney's and layers, mesothelioma claims and compensation may be available in column to the right of the article above.


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