Mesothelioma is a deadly cancer than affects individuals who have been exposed to asbestos. Asbestos fibers are extremely dangerous and can pose major risks for anyone who comes into contact with them.
Asbestos has been used for years in many different products, especially construction and insulation. Although the risks were not well known in its earlier use, it is now a common topic with a vast amount of information available about it. Even so, many companies are still using this toxic material in trace amount in different products.
Once asbestos fibers are released into the air, they can either be inhaled or ingested by a human. At this point, the fibers can travel to any one of the main linings of the body. The pleura is a lining that surrounds and protects the lungs. If the asbestos fibers travel and lodge into this lining, a person will develop pleural mesothelioma. The peritoneum is a lining that surrounds and protects the abdominal cavity. If asbestos is ingested and travels to this delicate covering of the abdominal viscera, peritoneal mesothelioma will begin to develop. Finally, the third type of mesothelioma is pericardial mesothelioma. This cancer results when asbestos fibers lodge in the pericardium, or protective covering of the heart. Once the fibrous pieces of asbestos travel to any one of these major linings, they will become lodged and begin to produce carcinogenic scar tissue. At that point, mesothelioma is well on its way to causing numerous health problems.
The dormancy period of all types of mesothelioma is extremely long. This means that the time from exposure to the fibers until the appearance of symptoms can be anywhere from twenty to fifty years long. This fact makes treating mesothelioma extremely challenging because the cancer has normally progressed too far by the time of discovery. Also, the symptoms that come with each type of mesothelioma are similar to the symptoms that other major illnesses and diseases have as well. Most time, mesothelioma is misdiagnosed due to these symptom similarities. For example, pleural mesothelioma may cause shortness of breath, coughing, wheezing, exercise intolerance and chest pain. These symptoms are the same symptoms that many major respiratory diseases cause as well. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthmatic bronchitis and emphysema all carry the same symptoms as pleural mesothelioma.
In any case, it is important to find a reputable oncologist that specializes in mesothelioma and the challenges that it brings with it. By doing this, the oncologist and patient can develop a treatment game plan and begin to fight this horrible cancer.