What is mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is a type of cancer affecting the smooth lining of the chest, lungs, heart, and abdomen, known as the mesothelium.
How common is mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is a relatively rare cancer, with about 2,000 - 3,000 new cases reported each year in the United States. Mesothelioma is more common in men than in women.
Who is at risk for mesothelioma?
Anyone who has been exposed to asbestos is at risk for mesothelioma. While occupational exposure to asbestos poses the greatest risk, family members or anyone living with asbestos workers are also at greater risk for mesothelioma than the general population.
What causes mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is caused by inhalation or ingestion of asbestos fibers.
What is asbestos?
Asbestos is the name given to a group of six different minerals (amosite, chrysolite, tremolite, actinolite, anthophyllite, and crocidolite) that occur naturally in the environment. These minerals are made up of long, thin fibers that are similar to fiberglass in appearance. Because asbestos fibers are very strong and resistant to heat and chemicals, they have been used in a wide range of products, including building materials, insulation and heat-resistant fabrics.
What are the symptoms of mesothelioma?
In its early stages, the symptoms of mesothelioma are few. As the disease progresses, however, patients may experience any or all of the following mesothelioma symptoms: shortness of breath, chronic cough, pain, difficulty swallowing, hoarseness, loss of appetite, fever, fluid in the chest cavity or around the heart, and abdominal mass or swelling.
How soon after exposure to asbestos do mesothelioma symptoms occur?
Because symptoms of asbestos exposure take a long time to develop, the time between initial exposure to asbestos and a diagnosis of mesothelioma is often 30 to 50 years.
How is mesothelioma diagnosed?
Diagnosing mesothelioma is a process that usually begins with a complete physical examination and clinical imaging studies. However, a definitive mesothelioma diagnosis can be made only by conducting a biopsy of affected tissue.
What is the prognosis for mesothelioma?
The prognosis for a patient with mesothelioma is determined by many factors, including the stage, size, and location of the tumor, the type of mesothelioma cells and the patient's overall health. In general, the life expectancy of patients with advanced mesothelioma is considered to be from 1 to 2 years.
How is mesothelioma treated?
Based on the stage of the tumor, treatment for mesothelioma may include any or all of the following:
-Surgical removal of the tumor
-Pain management and supportive care
How much asbestos exposure will cause mesothelioma?
While the risk of mesothelioma generally increases with the length and amount of asbestos exposure, there is no safe level of exposure to asbestos.
How quickly does mesothelioma progress?
Because symptoms may not appear for many years following asbestos exposure, the rate of progression of mesothelioma is uncertain. Life expectancy estimates generally focus on the length of time following diagnosis, but many mesothelioma experts believe the disease may be present for quite some time prior to diagnosis.