Studies and experts both strongly point out to asbestos exposure as the primary cause of mesothelioma cancer. The longer a person is exposed to this particle, the higher the chances for contracting the disease. Therefore, people whose line of job is linked to asbestos usage/exposure are the ones most likely to develop the disease. The technical use of asbestos includes soundproofing, insulation, roofing, fireproofing, and the manufacture of ironing board covers. Hence, companies or industries that employ asbestos use or benefit from it are construction corporations, power plants, oil refineries, steel mills, and shipyards.
There are also exceptional cases where the disease may be contracted via irradiation, which is the process of inhaling fibrous silicate such as eronite. Mining also happens to be one of the main culprits behind it. In fact, even if asbestos mining is no longer being done in Australia, its effects are still widespread, as many people still suffer from symptoms of mesothelioma cancer. This is the reason why those in the mining industry are urged to continuously look for global mining solutions that can eradicate the spread of this disease.
Indeed, even after many years or decades of asbestos exposure, this type of cancer can still manifest. Ingestion or inhalation of asbestos particles, or fibers eventually result in accumulation and lining up along the lungs, chest, or abdomen and heightens the chances for the development of cancer cells.
Mesothelioma is categorized as a rare cancer targeting the mesothelial cells especially those found along the lining covering the lungs (pleura). Mesothelial cells comprise the lining or membrane found on the outer surfaces of body organs. Most people inflicted with this rare disease have had exposure to asbestos at one point in their lives.
Types of Mesothelioma
- Pleural mesothelioma – this targets and affects the pleura, that lining surrounding the lungs, and is considered the most common form.
- Peritoneal mesothelioma – this type banks on the lining of the abdomen called the peritoneum and is the second most common form.
- Pericardial mesothelioma – this type strikes the protective layer covering the heart and is believed to be the rarest type.
Signs and Symptoms of Mesothelioma
Symptoms of pleural mesothelioma include shortness of breath, unexplained weight loss, painful consistent coughing, exhaustion, and seeming lack of energy, pain under the rib cage, occasional lumps beneath the skin within the chest area, lower back pain, and at times feverish conditions.
Peritoneal mesothelioma is characterized by abdominal pain and swelling, unexpected weight loss, abdominal lumps and nausea or vomiting.
Pericardial mesothelioma is distinguished by low blood pressure, edematose conditions especially in the feet area, shortness of breath, palpitations, stabbing chest pains and low energy resulting to faster exhaustion even when performing very minimal physical activity.
Diagnosis of Mesothelioma
Digital chest x-ray is still the leading and the most common way of detecting Mesothelioma.
Getting a thorough profile of the patient, such as work history, lifestyle, past ailments, and family history, imaging scans may be ordered which are either a CT scan or an X-ray of the abdomen or chest. Depending on the scan results, more procedures may be recommended to rule out possibilities.
Biopsy is also another diagnostic procedure where tissue is removed for further examination under a microscope. The biopsy is dependent on what part of the patient’s organs or body is targeted.
Laparotomy is the process where the patient is opened up through the abdomen for physical examination. Tissue samples are then removed for laboratory analysis.
Prognosis for Mesothelioma
Because cancer remains to be one of the most unpredictable diseases known to humanity, coming up with a precise prognosis is difficult and tricky. Being considered a highly aggressive form of cancer, mesothelioma also has a long latency period. In most cases, detection occurs when the cancer is already in its advanced stage and survival is pegged at an average of about one or two years.