What You Should Know About Mesothelioma
You’ve likely seen the commercials about mesothelioma or heard about it in the news, but you may not know much about it. What exactly is mesothelioma? How common is it and why should you be concerned about it?
In honor of National Mesothelioma Awareness Day yesterday, we’ll answer some of these questions and provide you with more information about this fatal lung cancer.
What is Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is a serious cancer that is caused by asbestos exposure. Approximately 3,000 people a year are diagnosed with mesothelioma, with the average age of diagnosis being between 65-74. There are four different types of mesothelioma that affect different areas of the body. The most common type, known as pleural, develops in the lining of the lungs.
What are the Symptoms of Mesothelioma?
Because this disease is so rare, symptoms of mesothelioma can often be confused for more common conditions. Mesothelioma also has a long latency period. It could take anywhere from 10-50 years after being exposed to asbestos for symptoms to appear.
A few signs you can be on the lookout for are:
- Chest pain
- Coughing or wheezing
- Difficulty breathing
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal pain
- Fluid buildup
- Unexpected weight loss
If you know you have been exposed to asbestos in the past and start to notice any of these symptoms, be sure to communicate this with your doctor. This information can help lead to an early diagnosis, increasing your chances of survival.
What are the Treatment Options?
Treatment options for mesothelioma include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. If you or a loved one is diagnosed with this disease, your doctor will likely suggest using multiple of these methods to prevent the cancer from spreading and increase your quality of life.
Researchers are on a mission to find a cure for mesothelioma through the use of clinical trials. Life expectancy for this disease is poor, with only 40% of patients living past one year. However, diagnosing and treating the cancer early can help improve your chances of beating this disease.
Can You Prevent Mesothelioma?
About 20 million people are at risk of developing mesothelioma at some point in their lives. However, there are certain risk factors that can increase your chances of developing this disease. Asbestos is the only cause of mesothelioma. The more you come in contact with this mineral, the more likely you are to develop mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases.
You may be at higher risk of developing mesothelioma if:
- You have an occupation that is regularly exposed to asbestos.
- You live in a home and/or are repairing a home that was built pre-1980.
- You live with someone who is exposed to asbestos on a regular basis.
- You are a veteran or currently work in the military.
If you don’t work at a high-risk occupation or if you’re not repairing an older home, your chances of being exposed to asbestos are fairly low. However, if you fall into one of these categories, you should take precautions to protect yourself in order to reduce your risk of developing mesothelioma.
Protect those you love and raise awareness about mesothelioma by sharing this information with your friends and family and help. If you have any questions about this disease and how to prevent it, contact your Cameron physician, visit our website at cameronmch.com.