Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer which affects people who have worked on jobs where they inhaled asbestos particles. In this type of cancer malignant cells are found in the mesothelium, a protective sac that covers most of the internal organs of the body. The cells of the mesothelium become abnormal and divide without control or order. These abnormal cells can invade and damage nearby tissues and organs. They also spread to other parts of the body. In most case the disease begins in the pleura or peritoneum, which covers most of the organs in the abdominal cavity.
There has been a rise in the incidence rate of mesothelioma cancer in the past 20 years. It is found mostly in men than women and the risk increases with age. In spite of this can appear in either men or women at any age. In 70 to 80% of the cases, exposure to asbestos is the reason for the disease. Asbestos is the name of a group of minerals that occur naturally. They appear as masses of strong, flexible fibers that can be separated into thin threads and woven. Due to its special qualities it is widely used in industries. If tiny asbestos particles float in the air, especially during the manufacturing process, they may be inhale or swallowed by the workers causing serious health problems. Apart from mesothelioma exposure to asbestos increases the risks of lung cancer, asbestosis and other cancers such as those of the larynx and kidney.
The risk of asbestos related disease increase with heavier and longer exposure to asbestos. At times even the family members of the workers are not spared by the malignant cancer. It may be due to the dust brought home on the clothing and hair of the workers. As a precaution in some places companies insist the workers to shower and change clothes before going home.
It is very difficult to diagnose mesothelioma in the early stages since the symptoms of the disease appear very late. The symptoms may appear after 20 to 30 years after exposure to asbestos. Shortness of breath, pain in chest, weight loss, swelling due to accumulation of fluid in the abdomen, anemia, fever etc are the symptoms of various types of mesothelioma. It is important to see the doctor well on time for proper treatment. Diagnosis is particularly difficult because the symptoms are similar to those of other conditions.
Different diagnostic tools are utilized by the doctors for diagnosis. The tests include X-rays of the chest or abdomen and lungs, C.T Scan, MRI etc. After this a biopsy is needed to confirm the diagnosis of mesothelioma. Treatment of mesothelioma depends on the location of the cancer, the stage of the disease and the patient’s age and general health. Various options for treatment are there including surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy etc. Participating in clinical trials is also a treatment options for the patients of mesothelioma.
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