Mesothelioma is an aggressive and deadly cancer that is caused by exposure to asbestos. It typically develops in the lining of the lungs, heart, or abdomen.
Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer, but its incidence is increasing. In the United States, there are approximately 3,000 new cases diagnosed each year. The average age of diagnosis is around 70, but mesothelioma can occur in people of any age.
The main cause of mesothelioma is asbestos exposure. Asbestos is a mineral fiber that was used in many construction and industrial products prior to the 1980s, when it was banned. Asbestos is still present in older buildings and homes, and it can be released into the air when these materials are disturbed. When asbestos fibers are inhaled, they can become lodged in the lining of the lungs, heart, or abdomen, where they can cause changes in the cells that can eventually lead to the development of mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma is a difficult cancer to diagnose, since the symptoms can be similar to those of other diseases. Common symptoms include shortness of breath, chest pain, and fatigue. If mesothelioma is suspected, a doctor will use imaging tests, such as a CT scan or MRI, to look for signs of the disease. A biopsy of the affected area may then be performed to confirm the diagnosis.
Unfortunately, mesothelioma is very difficult to treat. The standard treatment is surgery, which may be combined with chemotherapy and radiation therapy. However, mesothelioma is usually not curable, and the average life expectancy after diagnosis is between 12 and 21 months.
Mesothelioma is a devastating disease that is caused by asbestos exposure. Those who have been exposed to asbestos are at risk of developing mesothelioma, and should speak to their doctor about their risk and any symptoms they may be experiencing. Early diagnosis is key to improving prognosis and extending life expectancy.