Malignant Mesothelioma

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Asbestos is a mineral that is very resistant to heat and electricity, making it a good material to use for high temperature and voltage situations. It's also very durable and resistant to chemical wear. For these reasons, it was initially thought to be an ideal insulator. It was used in churches, schools and office buildings as well as many Navy ships in the US military. Unfortunately, it was only after all of this asbestos was installed that it was found to be a dangerous mineral that can cause very serious diseases like mesothelioma.

When not disturbed, asbestos is usually not harmful, so having asbestos insulation already installed in a building creates no direct problems. However, when the asbestos is disturbed by renovations or demolition, the fibers are released into the air pose a health risk. These particles can be breathed in, and can get lodged in the lungs. There, they can cause damage to the sensitive tissues in the lungs. They can also get lodged in the pleura the small body cavity that sits between the lungs and the rib cage. The pleura is surrounded by a thin tissue called mesothelium. When asbestos interacts with the mesothelium, it induces changes in the tissue that make its cells divide uncontrollably. Soon enough, this uncontrolled division causes a tumor to build up. If the cells in the tumor are cancerous, the patient is diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma.

Nine out of ten times, mesothelioma can be attributed to exposure to asbestos. In the other ten percent of cases, asbestos is suspected, but a direct link to exposure can not be proven. Malignant mesothelioma is the most severe form of asbestos-related illnesses. It has the highest mortality rate of any of the other diseases including asbestosis. It is also one of the most difficult types of asbestos related illnesses to diagnose because the early symptoms of mesothelioma resemble many less serious illnesses. These include shortness of breath and pain in the abdomen and back. These early symptoms of mesothelioma are many times confused with the aches and pains of aging or common illnesses.

One of the major problems with malignant mesothelioma is that it is usually not caught in time to treat it successfully. The body's immune system is incapable of removing asbestos from deep in the lungs and pleura, so asbestos fibers can sit in the body for decades. There, they can cause the tissues to build up damage. The disease therefore often takes decades to progress to a diagnosable form, and there is usually no way of knowing that it is present until it's too late. If you have worked with asbestos before but are not experiencing any symptoms, you should still make regular visits to your doctor. Like most cancers, early detection is the key to having a good prognosis, and you need to take the time to ensure that you are protected.

Patients with malignant mesothelioma often have very poor prognoses. Average survival time after diagnosis is between 4 and 18 months. A doctor might put a patient with mesothelioma on chemotherapy, tell them to undergo radiation therapy, or perform surgery. These treatments might extend the lifetime of the patient or improve their quality of life, but do not serve as a cure.

Another disease that might occur due to asbestos exposure is asbestosis. The symptoms of asbestosis are similar to the early symptoms of mesothelioma. This is typically not as severe as malignant mesothelioma but can become life threatening if it is left untreated. The symptoms of this include pain and shortness of breath. Although there is no cure for asbestosis, there are a few things that you can do to alleviate some of the pain.


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