is a cancer of the mesothelium. What is that exactly? There is the lining membrane that covers many vital organs. There are two layers, one that is directly in contact with the organ, then there is the outer layer. The mesothelium is what keeps the a fluid between the two allowing the organs to move as the need to, such as the heart which is always pumping and the lungs are always expanding and contracting as you breath.
Depending on where it is located the mesothelium has different names such as the peritoneum covers the organs in the abdomen and the pleura surrounds the lungs as well as the walls in the chest. There is also the pericardum that protects and covers the heart and there are also two that are gender specific, the mesothelial surrounds the male reproductive organs (internal) and the tunica serosa uteri covers the reproductive (internal).
With this disease the cells of the mesothelium become abnormaland start to divide without warning or control. This becomes somewhat of an internal invasion and can also affect surrounding tissue and organs. They can invade and damage nearby tissues and organs. Unfortunately the cancer cells may metastasize from where they were originally to other parts of the body.
Over the last 20 years or so there have been numerous reports that there has been an increased in the past 20 years, but that could be from knowing more about it now. Although mesothelioma is a rare cancer, currently there are about 2,000 new cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed each year in the United States. Another factor is that mesothelioma occurs more often in men than in women. Also the risk increases with age, but this disease can spontaneously appear in either men or women at any age so there is always hope.
In order to get an idea of how there was exposure, is to consider that you were at risk if you were at working in a large older building, considering that the use of asbestos started in 1866. Since it was used primarily to insulate, it was not just out in the open, but if there was damage to it and it started to flake, you were.
As far as being diagnoses with mesothelioma, the first document asbestos death wasn’t until 1906, key here is documented death, during the 1970s it was proven that companies that used it knew there were health hazards – but by this time many people were exposed to it, some of which did not even know, some even to this day.
If you have worked with asbestos anytime in your live there is a risk of exposure which may develop into mesothelioma and you need to assess possible exposure and
. It is not a definite, that you have it just at a higher risk. Most people that encounter exposure to asbestos at work make up between 70 to 80 percent of all cases, but what about the other 20 to 30 percent? They make up people that probably didn’t even know that they were exposed to asbestos.
To get more of an idea about asbestos and if you may have some passing exposure, asbestos is the name of a group of natural minerals containing strong flexible fibers that once separated can be woven. Now with this flexibility, asbestos was used in so many products it will be hard to name them all, but here are a few:
- brake linings
- roof shingles
If any of these tiny asbestos particles were airborne, especially during manufacturing if inhaled or swallowed, there was exposure which could result in serious health concerns. If there were any prior health issues, exposure to asbestos besides mesothelioma, there could be the risk of lung cancer, other respiratory ailments, along with other cancers.
So what are the main symptoms of mesothelioma? Unfortunately if you do not realize that you have been exposed to it, there are usually not major symptoms for some 30 to 50 years later. The main symptoms are:
- Shortness of breath
- Pain in the chest due to fluid
- Excessive fluid
- Weight loss
- Abdominal pain due to fluid
- Bowel obstruction
- Blood clotting abnormalities
Since those are the initial symptoms, if the cancer has spread any further other symptoms may include pain, swelling in the face or neck or difficulty swallowing.
One issue with mesothelioma symptoms is that there there are so many other symptoms that it could be, often it is thought to be something else. Some not so serious to a serious condition. If you or someone you know has these symptoms or you start to notice them complaining over time of several of these symptoms a doctor would need to be consulted to assess possible history to exposure so a proper diagnosis can be made.
To be able to come up with a
of the disease would be difficult to assess due to so many variables such as what stage the mesothelioma is in and how it has progressed. It is also dependent on what organs the mesothelioma has affected and what can be now be done.
When the mesothelioma effects the lungs, the pleural mesothelioma, this can be progressive since it involves being able to breathe. There are many factors that will help with prognosis such as what the age is and how long it is suggested that are suspected to have had it.
Being a rare disease if not properly diagnosed in the beginning, which is one of the problems determining when the beginning is, it can progress. Since there are many diseases that have similar symptoms being caught early is the key.
With many pleural mesothelioma patients, it is important to have mesothelioma found in the early stages and going to the doctor can help with this. Having your work history, your age and when you started feeling symptoms available.
Depending on what is affected there are various surgical procedures that may prove to be an option and provide long term survival without a cure – but again, it depends on what has been affected and aggressive treatment. While living life to the fullest, at least as much as your body will allow you, you never know.
Some other factors affect mesothelioma prognosis are:
- The stage of cancer
- Size of the mesothelioma
- Can it be removed by surgery
- Your age and overall health
- The amount of fluid in either the abdomen or chest
- Have you already had the cancer and has it come back
- Type of mesothelioma cells
There are many factors that will help you to be able to help answer the question as to what the mesothelioma prognosis is. Having overall good health will help with the overall prognosis, never rule anything out. If you watch television you will see all types of commercials from lawyers asking if you have mesothelioma, interesting enough most people watching do not even know what it is let alone if you have it. If you have just recently found out that you do, have hope. Also having a positive outlook on life and that there could be something to help in the future.