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Cancer Illness


What You Should Know About the Mesothelioma Illness

By David Arnold Livingston

What is Mesothelioma? A lot of people are not aware of this disease and thus, die due to the delay in diagnosis. Millions of people die every year because of cancer; it is among the most pervasive illnesses every one of us is exposed to. Generally speaking, a cancer is a group of diseases characterized by alarming rapid growth of abnormal cells in the body. The disease can affect almost any part of the body and among the most commonly affected are the lungs. Cancer-causing substances are everywhere, especially in the air that we breathe so the lungs are vulnerable to several fatal diseases. One rare cancer that affects the lungs is Mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma has been popularized only because of its association with asbestos, a fibrous mineral form of magnesium silicate used in fireproofing, chemical filters, electrical insulation and others. Most of the patients diagnosed with Mesothelioma have been frequently exposed to asbestos. They are those who work in construction sites, shipyards, insulator makers and similar places. They usually inhale the impure fibers from the asbestos that float through the air.

It can be noted that there are about 30-50 per cent of Mesothelioma patients who did not have any exposure to asbestos, which leads to the assumption that asbestos may not be the sole cause of Mesothelioma. There are some Mesothelioma patients, too, that had only little exposure to asbestos but had contracted the disease. Activities such as washing clothes of a person who has been exposed to asbestos can still put a person at high risk of Mesothelioma cancer. This disease takes years to develop so a person exposed to asbestos might be diagnosed with Mesothelioma only after 20-50 years of the exposure.

Like other forms of cancers, Mesothelioma is named after the part which is affected by the disease. In the case of Mesothelioma, the malignant cells are found in the mesothelium, a protective sac that covers different internal organs. This protective sac produces fluid that lubricates the organs, allowing them to move. They allow the beating of the heart and expanding and contracting of the lungs, for example. Specifically, Mesothelioma affects the lining of the lung and chest cavity. There are some cases, too, that the lining of the abdomen (peritoneum) is the one affected. These two types of Mesothelioma cancer are known as Pleural Mesothelioma (affecting the lungs) and Peritoneal Mesothelioma (affecting the abdomen).

Symptoms of Pleural Mesothelioma include panting, persistence of cough, loss of weight, fever and chest pain. On the other hand, Peritoneal Mesothelioma may cause swelling and pain of the abdomen and also weight loss. During the early stages of Mesothelioma, the symptoms are non-specific; thus, the disease is not immediately identified. Also, the symptoms are often mistaken as signs of pneumonia. There are instances too that the patient doesn’t show any sign of this deadly cancer.

If a patient manifests any of the said symptoms, he must immediately seek a physician’s help. Usually, an xray is required to clearly see the abnormalities in the lungs (in the case of Pleural Mesothelioma). Indications of a Mesothelioma cancer include a build-up of fluid between the pleura covering of the chest wall and the diaphragm. In normal conditions, the mesothelial cells produce only small amount of fluid enough to lubricate the space between the chest wall and the lung.

The chance of a patient’s recovery from Mesothelioma depends on the extent or stage of the disease and location of the disease. Furthermore, the person’s age and the way he responds to treatment and medication can tell whether he can survive the cancer or not. Generally the patient’s option for treatment include: surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy and anticancer drugs.

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