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Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer. It attacks the linings of a patient’s lungs and abdomen, which creates gradual damage to the respiratory system. This damage can take years to finally show symptoms in a patient, upwards of 30 years, which unfortunately can disguise that the source of the cancer is asbestos.
Asbestos is a naturally occurring group of fibers used heavily in products for consumer and commercial purposes, but has decreased in popularity in developed countries like the United States. Even with this reduction, the asbestos risk is still an issue for as many as one million construction workers across the U.S.
If the cancer is detected early, mesothelioma patients have a good chance of survival. You should definitely perform yearly cancer screenings and report any unusual symptoms to your doctor. Mesothelioma is aggressive and will attack a patient’s lung or abdomen quickly. The symptoms can be hard to detect, so be sure to talk with your doctor about cancer screenings. Remember that you won’t know the results of the scan until your doctor goes over those papers with you in private, so try not to worry during routine scan procedures.
The need for scans become more common as people age. New tests, the Mesomark® assay for example, aim to provide a basis for screening mesothelioma and catching it sooner. The patients with the highest rate of survival tend to be younger, healthier individuals.
A healthy lifestyle will keep the body in fighting shape and it’s recommended that you eat lots of vegetables. Vitamin D also plays a role in cancer combat, helping to reinforce the bones and teeth. Vitamin B is also useful to add to your diet.
Stages of Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma affects a patient in different stages, which doctors may refer to, typically in order of I through IV. Later stage cancers, like stage III or IV, have a lower survival rate than earlier stage diagnoses. Stage I and II cancers are typically just developing.
Beyond Stage II, treatment options become more limited as the cancer has spread around the body. Patients at lower stages typically catch the disease before it infests the body or becomes inoperable.
Doctors typically use a TNM system to break up the stages of mesothelioma. Earlier staging systems relied on aggressive surgery to determine what a patient was actually going through, and that’s something only early stage mesothelioma patients qualify for.
Doctors refer to the abbreviation TNM to signify the different parts of a patient’s diagnosis. TNM is also an international standard, and it’s parts include:
- (T) measures the size and location of the tumor
- (N) signifies whether lymph nodes are affected.
- (M) tells doctors whether tumors have metastasized elsewhere within the body.
Combined, this scale helps paint an accurate picture of the severity of the patient’s mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma aggressively attacks the lining of a patient’s lungs, but the attack can affect a patient’s abdominal lining as well. Patients can suffer from the disease with as little as three months exposure to asbestos products. Other types of mesothelioma exist too, including testicular mesothelioma. Unfortunately, symptoms of the disease are difficult to distinguish from that of a common cold or flu. Misdiagnosis is common until more serious issues present themselves.
If you notice a sudden pain in your chest accompanied by a shortness of breath, and you are not feeling ill, you should contact your doctor for a screening. More serious symptoms include blood in your phlegm, or fatigue. In severe cases, the disease may also cause blood clotting and may yellow the skin. Mesothelioma has been shown to alter the blood sugar level of the body, but this is not typical for every patient.
Like any cancer, treatment for mesothelioma can get expensive, but there is help out there. Resources are available across the web , and you can find funds set up to help victims of the disease all over the Web.
Typical treatment involves radiation or chemotherapy. Surgery may also assist doctors in managing the spread of the cancer, but remission is rare for late stage survivors. If you are under treatment for the disease, maintain a positive attitude and keep your metabolism up.
Also communicate frequently with your doctor about changes to your diet. Some nausea is to be expected throughout treatment, but you should be able to eat and keep your metabolism up. Protein drinks can help when you find it difficult to eat solid foods.
You’ll also benefit from lots of bed rest, as treatments will leave you feeling worn out.
Breathing asbestos into one’s lungs causes scarring to occur in the tissue. That buildup eventually results in a loss of lung function and, eventually, lung cancers like mesothelioma. It is an occupational hazard recognized by OSHA, and you should take every possible precaution before coming into contact with it.
Simply said, the best way to guard against mesothelioma is to limit your exposure to asbestos. Start by identifying asbestos containing materials around you and avoiding them. Typically, we find asbestos in ‘cottage cheese” style ceilings for homes and apartment buildings. You can use professional aid to remove the asbestos from the premises, but you can also just leave it alone with minimal risk to yourself in the long run.
If you must work with asbestos, be sure that you’re wearing the proper protective face mask and ventilation equipment so you can breathe without inhaling harmful particles. If you do come across an area that is undamaged, leave it alone and work around it. When you’re working with asbestos, vacuum up the debris with a high-grade shop vacuum instead of sweeping. While asbestos is naturally occurring in soil and rocks, sweeping it up into the breathable atmosphere will increase your direct exposure to it. Learn more about this disease within a mesothelioma network.
Bruce Kelly is a freelance writer who specializes in writing content relating to medical news, legislation, and lawsuits. Bruce has been covering topics like ethical class action suits that you can read about at www.mesotheliomanews.com, prescription pill legality, and even the dos and don't of animal testing. Bruce has been writing online for several years and has a pharmaceutical background to match.