Although still considered rare, reported cases of Mesothelioma are increasing. With the sheer numbers of exposed workers since the 1940s, it is likely the diagnosed cases of Mesothelioma will continue to rise in number – especially since it now becoming clear that even the families of those who work with asbestos are at risk for the cancer.
Mesothelioma is a cancer that affects the linings of the lungs. It is often caused by exposure to asbestos, but not all cases are related to that material. Mesothelioma can spread quickly from the lungs or abdomen, where it is also found, into other areas of the body and major organs. It is deadly if not effectively stopped and treated.
Mesothelioma is especially scary because symptoms of the disease may not appear until thirty or more years following exposure to asbestos. Some patients have had symptoms lit dormant for fifty years before appearing. Mesothelioma is difficult to control, and the symptoms may appear to be related to other problems initially prolonging the diagnosis. Common symptoms include shortness of breath and chest pain along with weight loss and bloating.
With symptoms that take decades to develop, prevention of the disease begins with awareness today. Asbestos exposure is the most prevalent cause of the cancer, and the exposure is not limited to the worker. Increased numbers of cases have been reported in individuals who never had direct contact with asbestos. Instead, these Mesothelioma patients were only exposed to asbestos particles and dust on the clothing and hair of family members and friends who worked with the material.
To prevent the disease, the ideal would be to avoid working with any asbestos product and avoid people that do work with it. However, asbestos is included in many things we use on a regular basis. Cement, automotive brakes, roof shingles, flooring products, textiles and insulation in homes and commercial buildings all contain asbestos. This means a simple trip to your attic can expose you to the material.
Those who work in construction areas and manufacturing are at the highest level of risk. However not all workers who were heavily exposed to the asbestos are affected with Mesothelioma. Conversely, some who had very minimal exposure are. There is no amount that is truly safe for every person although OSHA (U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration) has set a legal limit for workplace exposure.
If you are going to be exposed to any form of asbestos, even if you are just fixing your roof or putting Christmas decorations back in the attic, wear a mask and limit your time as much as possible. Immediately change clothing and shower. Wash the affected clothing. Be mindful that lingering dust is as dangerous as an initial exposure. So, consider shedding clothing in an area that has excellent circulation and away from children and other family members.
Mesothelioma is curable if caught early enough and if treatments are effective for your specific case. Like all cancers, the longer it is allowed to grow in the body, the more likely it will be fatal. If you suspect you are experiencing symptoms of the disease, visit with your doctor as quickly as possible and share your concerns.
If you are diagnosed with Mesothelioma, you will most likely have the cancer removed through surgery if this sort of surgery is possible for you. You will also have radiation treatments to kill off affected cells along with chemotherapy.
Living with Mesothelioma
In many cases, the Mesothelioma is caught early enough to be treated or removed. The patient goes on to live decades longer enjoying life. Naturally, the earlier your Mesothelioma is detected and the severity of the actual case determines the outcome.
The most important thing is to be vigilant about protecting your health and monitoring your condition. It may be half a century from now that you see the effects of your career or hobby, but Mesothelioma can be prevented by taking precautionary measures. Don’t let ignorance cut your life short.