Mesothelioma Signs and Symptoms
Mesothelioma is a rare but very serious form of cancer. It is caused by exposure to asbestos, a material that has been in use for hundreds of years. In fact, the risk for mesothelioma is approximately 2.5 times greater in workers who were exposed to asbestos than in the general population.
Asbestos exposure is not common in the United States. The type of jobs in which most workers may be exposed are in construction, power generation, and shipbuilding. These are the jobs where more people are likely to have some type of exposure to asbestos. Additionally, people who work in these industries also tend to be exposed to other chemicals and toxins that are present in the same atmosphere.
Mesothelioma is caused when the immune system attacks the lining of the lungs or the lining of the abdomen, leading to damage to the cells of the blood and the body’s immune system. Although it is hard to predict when and where the cancer will occur, it usually begins in the abdomen area.
Many of the symptoms of mesothelioma can be caused by lung cancer, but this type of cancer is different. In fact, lung cancer is usually just one symptom of mesothelioma. For example, the cancer can also grow near the heart, the kidney, the ovaries, or the brain. In some cases, symptoms can be a result of an internal malady such as tuberculosis.
Symptoms of mesothelioma can be confused with a host of other conditions. People may experience symptoms of mesothelioma similar to the flu, such as fever, sore throat, chest pain, nausea, and cough. Other signs of mesothelioma may include excessive sweating, weight loss, and shortness of breath.
For some sufferers, symptoms of mesothelioma can include extreme pain. While it is often thought that the cancer is only limited to the abdominal area, in fact the cancer can spread to the lungs, heart, and even the brain. The cancer is able to spread because of two factors. One is the amount of asbestos that the asbestos-laden clothing or fibers cause to be inhaled.
The other factor is the chemical content of the asbestos fibers that cause them to be inhaled. Because the cancers are caused by the inhalation of asbestos fibers, the higher the concentration of asbestos present in the air, the greater the chance for a person to contract mesothelioma.
If you think you may have mesothelioma, it is important to consult a doctor right away so that he or she can discuss the issue with you and determine the appropriate treatment. The treatment options available depend on the stage of the cancer and the response of the cancer cells to therapy. In general, surgery and radiation therapy are considering treatments that are given to those with mesothelioma who do not respond to non-invasive treatments.
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