Mesothelioma and Asbestos

Asbestos Cancer – Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is a rare and virulent cancer arises from the mesothelium which forms the lining of the lungs (the pleura), the abdominal cavity (the peritoneum) or the lining around the heart (the pericardium). Malignant mesothelioma is caused by exposure to the mineral fibers (asbestos or erionite). In fact, the incidence of malignant pleural and peritoneal mesotheliomadue to  erioniteexposure in the Central Anatolia Region is very high and increasing.

Mesothelioma can take decades to manifest after asbestos exposure. The first signs found during clinical exam are chest pain (often associated with shortness of breath) and recurrent pleural effusion, usually hemorrhagic. The latency period between first exposure and development of mesothelioma is rarely less than 20 years, often on the order of 30 to 40 years or more.

Some individuals were exposed at their workplace, while others were exposed secondarily by family members who unwittingly have brought the fiber to the home from their work on their clothes or hair or on their skin.  Mesothelioma is a serious and painful cancer; people should take all necessary steps to prevent it.

Mesothelioma and asbestosis are both caused by asbestos exposure; however, they are two different medical conditions. Mesothelioma is also known as asbestos cancer; it is a malignancy that develops in the mesothelium, a protective membrane that recovers the lining of several body cavities mainly the pleura (a serous membrane that lines and protects the lungs), peritoneum (a transparent serous membrane that lines the abdominal cavity and covers most of the abdominal organs), and pericardium (a fluid-filled sac that encloses the heart and the roots of the great blood). Although asbestosis is different from mesothelioma, it can lead to its development or symptoms similar to this deadly cancer.

Asbestosis is also a pathology resulted from prolonged exposure to asbestos fibers; however, it is nonmalignant (non-cancerous). Painlessly, asbestos fibers enter into the bronchi and the alveoli. Once in the alveoli, the asbestos causes a progressive hardening and thickening of the lung tissue until impacting breathing. The disease causes shortness of breath and severe respiratory failure. In addition, asbestosis can be associated with chronic bronchitis and heart failure. In fact, people suffering from asbestosis are twice at risk of developing lung cancer than other people do.

Symptoms of asbestosis and mesothelioma can be similar; nevertheless, there are major differences in the treatment of asbestosis and mesothelioma. Asbestosis treatment focuses on preventing progression or complications of the symptoms in order to improve the life of the patient. However, there are many mesothelioma treatment options. A mesothelioma diagnosed early can be treated with surgical therapy. In this case, the surgery aims at removing cancerous tumors. In addition, mesothelioma can be treated with radiation and/or chemotherapy.

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