What is Mesothelioma
What is Mesothelioma, Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that forms in the mesothelium. The mesothelium is a type of sac or membrane that surrounds many of the vital organs in the human body. Mesothelioma is only known to be caused by exposure to asbestos.
Asbestos is a mineral that was mined for years because of its durability and heat resistant attributes. This mineral was often used in shipyards, piping industries, floor tiles, and various insulation products.
The fibers of this mineral, if disrupted, can become airborne. These microscopic fibers can be inhaled or ingested and penetrate the mesothelium. Because the human body sees these fibers as infectious, tumors form in the affected area and become cancerous. These cancerous cells can metastasize at a very rapid rate and potentially affect other areas of the body.
The mesothelium goes by different names depending on its location in the body. If asbestos is inhaled, it becomes lodged in the pleura. The pleura is the mesothelial sac that encases the lungs and lines the chest cavity. This area is filled with fluid and provides room for the lungs to expand and contract.
A similar tissue is found surrounding the heart. The pericardium protects the heart and provides room for the heart to contract and pump blood throughout the body. The stomach and other organs in the abdominal area are similarly sheltered by the peritoneum.
Each of these tissues is in place to provide protection and allow these organs to move and carry out their functions. The body has no way of flushing out a substance like asbestos when it becomes lodged in the mesothelium. As a result, cancerous cells develop and form tumors, causing a great deal of pain and discomfort.
Mesothelioma has been found to affect men more often than women, but that may be due to the fact that men were more commonly found to work in jobsites where asbestos was present. Common jobsites were naval shipyards, construction sites, power plants, and metalworking factories.
At times, asbestos was brought home from the worksite on a worker’s clothing and passed to other members of the family who inhaled or ingested the fibers and later became sick with the disease.
When the true dangers of asbestos became known, proper research and action should have been taken to protect those who may come into contact with the mineral. Unfortunately, even today there are unnecessary cases of mesothelioma being diagnosed.
Mesothelioma is a form of cancer that is particularly difficult to diagnose. Because not all victims are aware of their prior exposure to asbestos, it is not always the first ailment a doctor looks for. In many cases, mesothelioma has up to a 40-year latency period before symptoms become noticeable.
By this point, many of the infected are older and may also be suffering from varying conditions that make the diagnosis even more difficult.
While smoking is not known to cause mesothelioma, it can lead to additional lung complications and make diagnosis troublesome as well.
Since asbestos was heavily used between 1940 and 1970, there are countless individuals who may have served in the Navy or worked in other industries where asbestos was present.
As a result, mesothelioma, which used to be considered very rare, is becoming evermore prevalent. It is important to be aware of this disease and acknowledge the fact that precautions need to be taken whenever there is a chance that asbestos may be present at any jobsite.