Malignant mesothelioma is an aggressive form of cancer that affects the thin layers of tissue that cover the lungs, stomach, heart, and other organs in the body. It is caused by asbestos exposure and often takes decades to develop. It is a serious and life-threatening illness that affects thousands of Americans each year.
The diagnosis of malignant mesothelioma is often difficult because of the long latency period, which can extend up to 50 years after initial asbestos exposure. Symptoms can include difficulty breathing, chest pain, and a persistent cough. Diagnosis is typically confirmed with imaging tests, such as X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs, as well as biopsies.
Treatment options for malignant mesothelioma are limited and vary depending on the stage of the disease and whether it has spread to other organs. Surgery is often used to remove the tumor, and radiation and chemotherapy are commonly used to help manage the disease. Clinical trials may also be available to explore new treatments.
The prognosis for malignant mesothelioma is generally poor, with most patients surviving less than one year after diagnosis. However, some patients may live for several years with treatment, and there are a few cases of patients living for more than 10 years.
Because malignant mesothelioma is caused by exposure to asbestos, it is critical to take steps to reduce exposure to this hazardous material. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends that homeowners have their homes inspected for asbestos and that they take steps to reduce their exposure by using protective gear when working with it.
When it comes to malignant mesothelioma, facing the facts is essential. With the right treatment and the support of loved ones, it is possible to manage this disease and extend life expectancy.