Mesothelioma is a variety of cancer that is almost always caused by continued exposure to asbestos. The mesothelium, a protective lining that covers most of the body's internal organs is the area targeted by mesothelioma.
The pleura specifically, (outer lining of the lungs and internal chest wall) is where it generally occurs, but it may also occur in the peritoneum (the lining of the abdominal cavity), the heart, the pericardium (a sac that surrounds the heart) or tunica vaginalis.
Inhaling asbestos particles due to the nature of the job, exposure to asbestos dust and fiber repeatedly, asbestos particles undetected in the living environment or any other way it can accidentally enter airways is a medium for it to develop the type of cancer that can result in tumors difficult to diagnose.
Washing the clothes of a family member who worked with asbestos can also put a person at risk for developing mesothelioma. Unlike lung cancer, there is no association between mesothelioma and smoking though smoking is the number 1 nemesis of respiratory wellness.
Symptoms of mesothelioma include:
• Shortness of breath
• Fluid between the lung and the chest wall
• Chest wall pain.
Chest X-ray and CT scan precede the confirmation diagnosis which is completed with a biopsy (tissue sample) and microscopic examination.
Despite treatment with chemotherapy, radiation therapy or sometimes surgery, the disease carries a poor prognosis. Research about screening tests for the early detection of mesothelioma is ongoing. Individuals who suffer the disease are left with very little hope of overcoming it.
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