Posted by on 04/11/2018

Mesothelioma Warning Signs and Symptoms

Mesothelioma Warning Signs and Symptoms

Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that affects the membrane that protects and lines the internal organs, or the mesothelium. In the case of this malignancy, the lining that is most often affected covers the lungs. Mesothelioma that attacks the lining of the heart and the organs in the abdomen is less common. About 2400 to 2800 people are diagnosed with the malignancy each year. Though it is a rare cancer, it is aggressive. As of 2018 there is no cure.

Causes

Mesothelioma is caused by exposure to asbestos. Asbestos is the name of a family of naturally occurring minerals. It was once extensively used in construction and could be found in paint, insulation, floor tiles, roof shingles and even the fireproof clothing worn by firemen. Though people had suspected that it was toxic for decades, asbestos became widely banned in the United States only in the 1980s.

The problem with asbestos is that the cancer it causes can take 20 or 30 years to develop. This is why people are still coming down with the disease despite the asbestos ban. Even people who live with a person who worked with asbestos are at risk, because the mineral comes in fine fibers that cling to the clothes. Back when people thought asbestos was safe, workers did not change their clothes or shower before they came home. People who chose to renovate their home and tore out asbestos based insulation, flooring or wall panels breathed the fibers in, which put them at risk for the cancer.

Understanding Mesothelioma

Understanding mesothelioma helps in tailoring a patient’s treatment, even though much of the treatment is palliative. This means it keeps the patient comfortable and prevents complications from the disease. These treatments are:

• Forms of chemotherapy, which tries to kill or control the spread of the cancer cells through drugs

• Radiation therapy, where radiation or radioactive materials destroy the DNA of the cancer cells and kill them

• Surgery, where the surgeon physically removes the cancer cells. This may require removing parts of the organ where the cancer is found and nearby structures.

Clinical trials, where the patient can try new modalities besides the conventional ones, are regularly offered.

Mesothelioma Symptoms

Mesothelioma symptoms depend on where the cancer is located. If it is found in the tissue around the lungs, the person may feel pain beneath their rib cage. They may have a painful cough, suffer dyspnea and find lumps beneath the skin of their chest. As the cancer progresses, they lose weight without trying to.

If the malignancy is affecting the membrane in the abdomen, the patient experiences swelling, pain in the abdomen, lumps in the abdomen and again, weight loss that they can’t explain. If the membrane that encloses the heart is affected, the patient may feel chest pain and have trouble breathing. The cancer sometimes attacks the testicles, and the man will feel a lump or swelling in this area.

The problem with mesothelioma symptoms is that they are so nonspecific and the cancer is so rare that the patient and even the doctor may mistake them for symptoms of other and less dangerous maladies.

Aside from medical care, you also need to know your legal rights. Consult an asbestos lawyer now!

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