What Exactly Is Mesothelioma ?
Mesothelioma the medical name for cancer of the lung or the abdomen lining, and is usually caused by exposure to asbestos.
Asbestos is a type of building material used in thermal insulation products and ceiling tiles. Asbestos usage peaked during the 1950s – 1970s, but during the late 1960s, concerns over the health consequences of asbestos exposure began to arise, thereby decreasing the amount of asbestos manufactured over the following two decades. But even though new measures where brought in to get rid of it, many schools and public buildings still contain asbestos.
Small asbestos fibers that enter the air do not evaporate and can remain suspended in the air for a long time. These fibers, when breathed into the body, are toxic. The people most at risk are :-
People working in factories that manufacture asbestos are likely to have a high exposure to asbestos and are most at risk of developing asbestosis or mesothelioma.
Family members of workers exposed to asbestos in the workplace are susceptible to exposure from asbestos dust brought home by the worker on his clothes or skin.
Those who live in the vicinity of an asbestos manufacturing plant are also at risk.
Symptoms of mesothelioma may not appear until between twenty and fifty years after exposure, which explains why so many new cases of this form of cancer are coming to light now. Many people who haven’t been in contact with asbestos for decades, are now showing symptoms of this dreadful desease.
As with many forms of cancer, mesothelioma can spread rapidly. Symptoms include shortness of breath, coughing, loss of weight, and chest pains. If it is diagnosed early enough, the tumor can be surgically removed, and with chemotherapy and radiation treatment, a full recovery is often possible.
However, in more advanced cases, cure is usually not possible. In such cases, chemotherapy and radiation treatment can be used alongside other pain relief treatments, to ease the symptoms. Where cure is not possible, the average survival time is between four and eighteen months, depending on the stage of the tumor and the general health of the patient.
I was prompted to write about mesothelioma because as a child I lived near a factory which produced asbestos, and I personally know families who have suffered due to this terrible desease.