Saturday, 31 January 2009

Mesothelioma: More About this Asbestos Cancer

Cancers and other forms of diseases are usually named 
according to the part of the body or the internal organ 
where abnormal growth of malignant cells takes place. 
In the case of Mesothelioma, the abnormal cells grow in 
the mesothelium, a surface cell layer that covers and 
protects most internal organs. Normally, the 
mesothelium produces small amount of fluid in order to 
lubricate its layers—one of which directly covers the 
organ—and allow the movement of the organs, like the 
expansion and contraction of the lungs. A Mesothelioma 
cancer patient’s mesothelium produces too much of this 
lubricating fluid, thereby damaging nearby tissues and 
organs. The most common form of Mesothelioma is Pleural 
Mesothelioma, which begins in the Pleural or 
Peritoneum, the membrane that lines the chest cavity 
and covers the lungs. 

About 2,000 cases of Mesothelioma have been noted 
yearly in United States. This is still a rare disease 
to consider, although the reported incidents have 
escalated in the past two decades. It has been observed 
and proven that heavy and long exposure to asbestos is 
the prime cause of Mesothelioma. Asbestos is a group of 
minerals in strong, flexible and fibrous form. It is 
used in industrial products such as cement, brake 
linings, textiles, electrical insulation, flooring 
products, chemical filters, fireproofing materials and 
others. This explains why most Mesothelioma patients 
are working in construction sites, shipyards and 
manufacturing companies of said industrial products. 
Small asbestos particles float in the air and are 
either inhaled or swallowed by workers or persons 
within the vicinity. Aside from Mesothelioma, these 
people can acquire asbestosis, a non-cancerous chronic 
lung sickness and other forms of cancer of the lungs, 
cancer of the larynx and kidney. 

Asbestos-related Mesothelioma comprise only 70 to 80 
percent of the all the reported cases of the said 
cancer. There are reported Mesothelioma cases wherein 
the patients did not have any known exposure to 
asbestos. Some have been exposed only for a short 
period of time but still developed the cancer 20 to 50 
years after the exposure, like in the case of a 
Mesothelioma cancer patient who only washed clothes 
that have been exposed to asbestos. Likewise, asbestos 
fibers that have been stuck in the hair strands of a 
factory worker can also risk the health of others whom 
he lives with. It is therefore important for workers 
exposed to asbestos to change their clothes and take a 
shower before leaving the workplace to prevent his 
family members or companions from inhaling the asbestos 
particles and thus, from acquiring Mesothelioma. 

The Mesothelioma cancer is slow-forming. That’s why one 
develops the cancer so many years after the exposure to 
asbestos. Some develop the cancer fifty years after the 
exposure, which makes it hard to determine whether the 
person has Mesothelioma or not, especially when the 
patient has no knowledge of the exposure to asbestos. 
Moreover, malignant Mesothelioma shows signs similar to 
those of other ailments such as pneumonia. Symptoms of 
Pleural Mesothelioma also evident in other illnesses 
include: shortness of breath, persistence of cough, 
weight loss and chest pain. Peritoneal Mesothelioma, 
which affects the abdominal cavity, is indicated by 
swelling of and pain in the abdomen, weight loss, bowel 
obstruction, anemia, blood clotting abnormalities and 

Complete physical examination is needed to make sure 
one has Mesothelioma cancer. This includes xrays of the 
body part where the symptoms are felt or seen, CT scan 
and MRI. To confirm Mesothelioma, a biopsy is also 
performed by a surgeon or oncologist (a physician who 
is specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of a 
cancer). The sample tissue removed by the surgeon is 
examined by the pathologist. Once confirmed, the doctor 
then finds out the extent of the cancer, which is 
crucial to the treatment of Mesothelioma. Although 
malignant, Mesothelioma when earlier diagnosed can 
still be treated. Most Mesothelioma patients undergo 
surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. 

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