Symptoms Of Mesothelioma

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Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that is diagnosed in approximately 2,000 to 3,000 people each year in the United States. It affects the mesothelium, which is the protective lining and sac around most organs in the body. The mesothelium enables the organs to more easily slide against one another and other structures when they move, such as when the heart beats or the lungs expand and contract.

The mesothelium is comprised of three main parts; mesothelioma can occur in each of these areas.

The mesothelium of the chest is called the pleura. Cancer in this region is called pleural mesothelioma. This type of mesothelioma accounts for approximately 75 percent of mesothelioma cases.
The mesothelium of the abdomen is called the peritoneum. Cancer of the peritoneum is called peritoneal mesothelioma. Peritoneal mesothelioma comprises most of the remaining cases.
The mesothelium around the heart is called the pericardium. When cancer occurs in this region, it is called pericardial mesothelioma, which is very rare.
Extremely rare tumors may form in the covering layer of the testes; this cancer is called tunica vaginalis mesothelioma.

Approximately 90 percent of mesothelioma cases are attributed to long-term or heavy exposure to asbestos, a fibrous mineral that has been used in approximately 3,000 building, automotive, and other products. Mesothelioma can remain dormant in the body for 20 to 40 years, meaning an individual who was exposed to asbestos up to 40 years ago may just be diagnosed with mesothelioma now.

People who may be at increased risk of developing mesothelioma include individuals who have worked in the construction industry or related fields, such as iron workers, steel workers, plumbers, and electricians, as well as people who have worked in the automotive industry. In addition, people such as boilermakers, people who have worked in ship yards, and U.S. Navy veterans may also be at risk. Individuals who live with people who worked or work around asbestos may also be at risk for developing mesothelioma.

Often times, when a person has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, the cancer has reached a serious stage in development. Unfortunately, this is often attributed to the fact that the early symptoms of mesothelioma are the same as, or very similar to, symptoms of common ailments like colds and flus.

Early symptoms of mesothelioma in the chest include pain in the lower back or side of the chest, shortness of breath, cough, fatigue, fever, sweating, weight loss, difficulty swallowing, hoarseness, muscle weakness, swollen face or arms. Early symptoms of mesothelioma in the abdomen include abdominal pain, swelling or fluid in the abdomen, weight loss, nausea and vomiting. While these symptoms may be similar to common illnesses, if you have been exposed to asbestos, it is important to see the doctor as soon as possible. There is less information available about mesothelioma of the tunica vaginalis because it is so rare. However, symptoms of this cancer may include difficulty breathing or chest pains. The symptoms of any type of mesothelioma could initially present as another illness, but progress relatively rapidly.

To diagnose mesothelioma, doctors will complete a physical exam, take a complete medical history to learn about potential risk factors, draw blood, and possibly use imaging tests. Imaging tests may include the use of a chest x-ray, a CT scan, a PET scan, or an MRI. They may also test other fluids in the body, as well as tissue samples, or use surgical biopsies.

If you have any symptoms of mesothelioma, it is critical that you visit your doctor as soon as possible. He or she will run tests to diagnose you. If you are diagnosed with mesothelioma, your doctor will discuss treatment options that are best for you.

In the event that you are diagnosed with mesothelioma, it is recommended that you speak with an attorney whose focus is mesothelioma. He or she will help you pursue compensation for medical expenses you will incur as a result of your illness.


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