Mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer that typically affects the lining of the lungs, heart and abdomen. Approximately 2,000 to 3,000 cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed each year in the United States, comprising around 3 percent of all cancer diagnoses. This cancer occurs about four times more frequently in men than in women and all forms of mesothelioma, except for benign mesothelioma, are invariably fatal.
The life expectancy for mesothelioma patients is generally reported as less than one year following diagnosis, however a patient’s prognosis is affected by numerous factors including how early the cancer is diagnosed and how aggressively it is treated.
Mesothelioma is caused by asbestos exposure which occurs when fibers are inhaled or ingested into the body and become lodged in body cavities, causing inflammation or infection. Asbestos is a naturally-occurring fibrous substance that was widely used in the 20th century in a number of different industries. When the public became aware of the hazards associated with the mineral, warnings were issued in the mid-1970s and use of the product began to decline.
Types of Mesothelioma
There are five known types of mesothelioma. The four listed below are malignant cancers, and benign mesothelioma is a non-cancerous condition.
Once asbestos is inhaled it can effect many of the bodys different organs including the throat, lungs, stomach, heart and testicles.
Pleural Mesothelioma: This type of mesothelioma develops in the lining of the lungs, known as the pleura. It is the most common form of malignant mesothelioma, with around 75 percent of cases being pleural in origin.
Peritoneal Mesothelioma: Comprising approximately 20 percent of mesothelioma cases, this form of mesothelioma develops in the lining of the abdominal cavity, known as the peritoneal membrane.
Pericardial Mesothelioma: This form of mesothelioma develops in the lining of the heart, known as the pericardium. Approximately 5 percent of all mesothelioma cases are pericardial.
Testicular Mesothelioma: Testicular mesothelioma develops in the tunica vaginalis of the testicles and is the rarest form of the cancer.
Symptoms of mesothelioma often do not appear for 20 to 50 years after initial exposure to asbestos occurred. Mesothelioma symptoms often resemble less-serious conditions, which can make a diagnosis of mesothelioma difficult. Below is a list of several common symptoms mesothelioma patients may experience.
Pleural Symptoms: Shortness of breath, chest pain, persistent cough, fatigue, lumps under the skin on the chest
Peritoneal Symptoms: Weight loss, abdominal pain and swelling, bowel obstruction, nausea
Pericardial Symptoms: Heart palpitations, irregular heartbeat, chest pain, difficulty breathing, night sweats
Testicular Symptoms: Painful or painless testicular lumps
Mesothelioma Legal Issues
The dangers of asbestos exposure were known long before any efforts were made to protect workers. Thousands of American workers were exposed to asbestos during the 20th century, and were often unaware of the hazards of exposure.
Companies that produced asbestos-containing products or used these products on a daily basis are liable for their negligence in failing to protect their workers. If you or a loved one has developed mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease as a result of asbestos exposure, you may wish to speak with an attorney to seek compensation to help cover medical expenses, lost income and pain and suffering.
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