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What is Mesothelioma- Tips to Prevent and How to Get Proper Treatment

Updated on November 20, 2012

There have been many warnings issued for people who have been exposed to, or know someone who has been exposed to asbestos. The most severe consequence, from exposure to this harmful substance is mesothelioma. This disease is extremely intimidating and will naturally cause many questions to form when hearing about it. What is it? What causes it? What are your chances of being diagnosed? What are the symptoms, and how is it diagnosed? Is mesothelioma a contagious disease? Are there ways to prevent the disease? Who is more likely to contract mesothelioma? Finally, what are the treatments, and is there a cure?

Mesothelioma is a form of cancer-

It affects the bodily tissue that covers the abdomen, chest, and internal organs known as meothelium. The disease generally originates in the lungs. Exposure to asbestos is the leading cause of Mesothelioma. In addition the Mayo Clinic has issued warnings that exposure to radiation, family history, and a virus found in monkeys known as simian virus 40, can also cause mesothelioma. Around 3,000 new cases of this cancer occur every year within the United States, meaning it is one of the more rare forms of cancer.

What are the Symptoms that Mesothelioma Mesothelioma Victims Experience?

The American Lung Association has announced that there are many symptoms that can be experienced by contracting mesothelioma. Some of the more prominent symptoms include; anemia, problems with blood clots, shortness of breath, persistent fever and cough, unexplained weight loss, pain or swelling in the abdomen, and a consistent pain felt underneath the rib cage. In addition, the Mayo Clinic warns that lumps that are felt in the abdominal and chest area can also be warning signs of mesothelioma. It is extremely important to know that according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH); symptoms of mesothelioma can take as long as 30-50 years after being exposed to asbestos to present themselves.

Test Required to Diagnose Mesothelioma

Testing bodily fluids, blood tests, biopsies, PET scans, CT scans, MRIs, and chest x-rays are all tests that can be done to aide in diagnosing mesothelioma, according to the American Cancer Society. If there is a possibility that you are in a high risk group (family history, or exposure to asbestos), and have experienced any of the listed symptoms it is crucial to talk to your primary care giver and have appropriate tests done to screen for mesothelioma. While the cancer itself is not contagious, if you share living space with someone who works around asbestos, fibers can cling to clothing and expose anyone around it.

Prevention is Better than Cure

The best way to prevent mesothelioma is to limit exposure to its leading cause, asbestos. This can be done by wearing protective gear, replacing insulation in older buildings, and possibly changing jobs. Smoking, according to the National Cancer Institute, greatly increases the chances of contacting mesothelioma after asbestos exposure. Those most at risk of being diagnosed with this cancer are those who have had prolonged exposure to asbestos. This often includes firefighters, demolition professional, and construction workers. Because this disease can take so long to present itself after exposures, most of those infected are diagnosed after the age of 50.

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Effective Treatment Techniques in Mesothelioma

The best treatment, although not always an option, would be surgery in which the cancerous cells are removed from the body. Unfortunately, this is currently the only cure to the disease, and more often than not, mesothelioma is so far advanced by the time it is diagnosed that surgery is no longer an option. As with other forms of cancer, the American Lung Association has recommended treatments including radiation therapy as well as chemotherapy to help prolong patient life.

The Mayo Clinic, American Lung Association, National Institutes of Health (NIH), American Cancer Society, and National Cancer Institute are all excellent resources for more information about mesothelioma.


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    • JanMaklak profile image

      JanMaklak 5 years ago from Canada

      For anyone removing old insulation, (commonly used in pipe wrap pre 1980 or older plaster, tile floors etc. I would recommend hiring an asbestos removal company. If after getting a quote (that is through the roof) you choose to do it yourself please read up on how to remove asbestos. A government site (like has a booklet with removal requirements.

      A few tyvek suits and a rubber face mask, glove bags and some soapy water and an absolutely thorough clean up are far cheaper than loosing your life.

      Good post and everyone who attempts construction or demolition on older buildings should read up!

    • Felipe717 profile image

      Felipe717 5 years ago from Philadelphia, PA

      I've been hearing the word Mesothelioma more and more lately but didn't know what it was. It makes me think about how much I may have been exposed to it. Thanks for the Hub.