Mesothelioma is a cancer that grows in the mesothelium, a thin tissue that lines most of the body’s organs. Most cases of mesothelioma result from workplace exposure to asbestos. This disease spreads aggressively and does not have a cure.
The Risk for Mesothelioma
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral found in the earth and used in the construction industry because of its strong fibers. For example, it is often a component of flooring, roofing, and insulation. The dust created when asbestos is disrupted may be swallowed or inhaled by those who are exposed. Over time, these dust particles create cell changes that cause mesothelioma. This process occurs very slowly. Many people who have mesothelioma are not diagnosed for two to six decades after exposure, according to mesotheliomahelp.org.
Not everyone who comes into contact with asbestos gets mesothelioma. If you have lived with someone who worked with asbestos, you may also be at risk. Risk is also higher for those with a family history of this cancer and those who have had chest radiotherapy to treat previous cancer.
Symptoms of Mesothelioma
The Mesothelioma Center reports that signs of this type of cancer vary depending on the affected organs. Pleural mesothelioma, which grows in the lung tissue, causes coughing, pain while coughing, chest pain, shortness of breath, and skin lumps on the chest. Peritoneal mesothelioma, affecting the abdomen, causes abdominal pain and swelling as well as nausea. Both types of mesothelioma result in unexplained weight loss. Though mesothelioma can affect other organs, such as the heart and testicles, these cases are quite rare.
While no cure exists for this cancer, treatments can help reduce complications and discomfort. Without treatment, a person who has mesothelioma will have trouble breathing and swallowing, increased pain, and fluid accumulation in the chest cavity.
Treatment options depend on how much the cancer has spread as well as the person’s individual health goals. Your doctor may recommend surgery to remove the affected tissue and built-up fluid, which can make it easier to breathe and reduce the pain associated with mesothelioma. For some patients, chemotherapy or radiation to kill the cancer cells may be appropriate, along with newer treatment modalities such as immunotherapy.
Were you exposed to asbestos while employed in construction, shipbuilding, steel, or another industry? You may be eligible for legal damages if your employer acted negligently and risked worker safety. D’Amico Law Offices, LLC assists clients in Pittsburgh with personal injury cases, including mesothelioma lawsuits. Call (412) 652-9300 to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced attorneys.