Mesothelioma, or malignant mesothelioma, is a rare form of cancer that develops from transformed cells originating in the mesothelium. This is the protective lining that covers many of the internal organs in the human body.
Mesothelioma asbestos cancer typically develops in the pleura, or the outer lining of the lungs and internal chest walls. Other sites for development are the peritoneum, or the lining of the abdominal cavity, the pericardium, the sac that surrounds the heart and the tunica vaginalis, the sac that surrounds the testis. The life expectancy for patients of mesothelioma asbestos cancer is short– generally less than one year following the diagnosis. In some cases, life expectancy can be increased with the presence of several factors such as how early the cancer was diagnosed and how aggressive the treatment is. However, for the majority of cases, mesothelioma asbestos cancer is not curable. The best that health care providers can do is improve the quality of the patient’s remaining life and making him as comfortable as possible.
Asbestos and Mesothelioma
The most common cause of mesothelioma asbestos cancer is exposure to asbestos. Everyone is liable to be exposed to asbestos at some time in his life, as low levels of asbestos are present everywhere- in the air, water and soil. However, most people do not become ill because of the exposure. Usually, it is only people who are regularly exposed to asbestos that develop mesothelioma asbestos cancer. Many patients with mesothelioma have worked in places where they have frequently inhaled asbestos or have been regularly exposed to asbestos dust and fibers in other ways. Examples of workers who are most highly at risk for developing mesothelioma asbestos cancer are miners, shipyard workers, automotive workers, railroad workers, insulation manufacturers and installers, construction workers, gas mask manufacturers, firefighters and demolition workers. Some studies also show that washing the clothes of someone who has been exposed to asbestos dust poses a risk of developing mesothelioma asbestos cancer.
Tips and comments
Because of the strong relationship between exposure to asbestos and mesothelioma asbestos cancer, the latter has been considered by many a signal or entinel tumor. Asbestos has been officially classified as a human carcinogen by several agencies, including the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the EPA and the International Agency for Research on Cancer.
How is mesothelioma asbestos cancer caused by asbestos? Actually, asbestos is made up of tiny fibers. If a person breathes in the asbestos fibers upon coming into contact with asbestos, the fiber can work its way into the pleura or the lining of the lungs. This can cause irritation of the pleura and may trigger gene mutations which in turn lead to the growth of cancer cells. On the other hand, if the fibers are swallowed, it may cause peritoneal mesothelioma in the lining of the abdominal cavity. Mesothelioma asbestos cancer may be developed not only by the person directly exposed to the asbestos but also by persons who live with him because asbestos fibers can be carried home on a person’s clothes. To stay on the safe side, try avoiding asbestos as much as possible.