Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that affects the lining of a person’s internal organs, most commonly the membrane around the lungs. It is caused by long-term exposure to asbestos, a mineral that was widely used in many different industries prior to the 1970s. The cancer can be difficult to treat and is normally fatal.
Asbestos is a fibrous material that was used in many different products and building materials due to its fire-resistant qualities. It was used in insulation, construction materials, ceiling tiles, floor tiles, and in drywall. Asbestos is still used in some products today, although the use of it has been heavily regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
When asbestos fibers are disturbed, they become airborne and can be easily inhaled or ingested. The fibers are so small that they cannot be seen with the naked eye, and when they enter the body, they can cause irritation and inflammation of the lining of the lungs, heart, or abdomen. This inflammation can cause mesothelioma, a form of cancer that affects the lining of the internal organs.
The symptoms of mesothelioma can include shortness of breath, chest pain, coughing up blood, fever, and weight loss. Unfortunately, these symptoms can take many years to appear after a person has been exposed to asbestos. This makes it difficult to diagnose, as many of the symptoms can also be signs of other illnesses.
Treatment for mesothelioma is usually a combination of chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery. Unfortunately, the cancer is often not curable, and the prognosis for most patients is not good. The average life expectancy for a person with mesothelioma is 12 to 21 months.
It is important to remember that asbestos exposure can lead to a deadly cancer. If you or someone you know has been exposed to asbestos, it is important to seek medical attention right away in order to catch the disease in its early stages, when it is most treatable. While mesothelioma is a serious illness, it is still possible to live a full and productive life with the right treatment and support.