Mesothelioma is a life-threatening form of cancer that usually begins in the lining of the lungs. The main cause of mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos. The majority of people who are diagnosed with mesothelioma were exposed to asbestos, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Mesothelioma is a particularly deadly form of cancer because most people do not know that they have the disease until they show symptoms, such as coughing or chest pain. By this time, malignant mesothelioma has usually spread throughout the body.
There is no cure for mesothelioma.
How Asbestos Causes Mesothelioma
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that breaks down into strong, thin fibers.
It is these fibers that enter through your nose as you breathe and then make their way into your lungs. Doctors believe that asbestos fibers that become lodged into the lung tissue disrupt normal cell function. Soon, cancerous cells take over and form tumors.
Microscopic Menace That Remains Dormant for Years
Asbestos fibers become airborne when materials made from asbestos are damaged, burned, or disturbed. These fibers are visible only under a microscope. You cannot taste, see, or feel asbestos fibers when they enter your airways.
No amount of asbestos fibers are considered safe, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. It is reasonable to assume that the more you are exposed to asbestos, the greater your risk of developing mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma has an extended latency period. You may develop the disease ten, fifteen, or even forty years after asbestos exposure.
Companies May Still Use Asbestos
Asbestos is strong, flexible, and heat resistant. This made it ideal for insulation and other uses in construction and manufacturing. After it was found to cause cancer, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) took steps to ban asbestos in certain applications.
You may still find asbestos in:
- Insulation of older buildings
- Roofing and shingle materials
- Some vinyl floor tiles and adhesives
- Coverings for older hot water pipes or steam pipes
- Automobile brakes and clutches
Some people believe that asbestos that is intact does not pose the same health risk as asbestos that has been damaged, exposed, or removed unsafely; however, the Minnesota Department of Health advises that people avoid all asbestos exposure.
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Mesothelioma Survival Rates
According to the CDC, only twenty percent of people with localized, or stage one, mesothelioma survive five years after their diagnosis. This statistic drops to ten percent survival rate after five years if the disease is diagnosed at a later stage.
You may be able to improve your prognosis if you know you were exposed to asbestos but are not yet experiencing symptoms of mesothelioma. You can talk to your healthcare provider about a chest X-ray or other imaging test that can detect irregularities or tumors in your lungs.
Life After a Mesothelioma Diagnosis
There are a few treatment options for mesothelioma, including:
- Radiation therapy
- Clinical trials
You should talk to your healthcare provider about your treatment options. All disease-fighting treatments, such as chemotherapy, have side effects. You should be aware of the potential risks and side effects so you can make an informed decision.
Palliative care, or end of life care, focuses on three main areas:
- Relieve pain
- Reduce symptoms
- Reduce impact and frequency of adverse health events
- Improve overall quality of life
Palliative treatment may prolong a patient’s life expectancy by easing symptoms and contributing to a more positive sense of well-being. Palliative care can begin anytime after a patient is diagnosed with mesothelioma, even if the patient is receiving other treatment.
How Mesothelioma Is Diagnosed
Because asbestos exposure is the main cause of mesothelioma, it is important for you to tell your healthcare provider about your personal and work history. This information, along with physical symptoms, can prompt your doctor to order further testing to reach a diagnosis.
The primary symptoms of mesothelioma, according to the Mayo Clinic, include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain and discomfort
- Lumps that are felt underneath the skin of the torso
- Painful coughing
- Weight loss that is unintentional
If you have mesothelioma, your doctor will probably be able to see tumors or discrepancies on your lungs with an X-ray or a computerized tomography (CT) scan.
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You Have a Right to Legal Representation
Some people who were diagnosed with mesothelioma are entitled to compensation for their medical bills, lost pay, pain and suffering, and other losses. You deserve to know your legal options, including potential compensation.
Call Pintas & Mullins Law Firm today for a free consultation by dialing (800) 794-0444.