Mesothelioma – What Is It?

Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is a cancer type, which mostly starts in the covering of the lungs (pleural mesothelioma) or abdomen (peritoneal mesothelioma). Pleural mesothelioma is the most common form,  while peritoneal is much less common.

Main cause of mesothelioma is asbestos exposure. When asbestos fibers are inhaled or ingested, the body is unable to expel them or to break them down. The fibers can stay in body for decades before mesothelioma symptoms develops. Asbestos is a fiber, which was widely used in construction industry in past and is still presented in millions of workplaces and homes all over USA. Majority of people with mesothelioma diagnosis were exposed to asbestos on workplace (75%).

The typical time period between exposure to asbestos and visible symptoms (latency period) usually varies from 18-60 years, while latency period under 18 years is very rare.

Main symptoms are shortness of breath (sometimes caused by accumulation of fluid in pleura) and chest pain (pleural mesothelioma). Main peritoneal mesothelioma symptoms are swelling and pain in abdomen, bowel obstruction, anemia, fever and weight loss. However if you have these symptoms it does not mean that you necessarily have this disease, as many other conditions are sharing these kind of symptoms.

Life expectancy

Median life expectancy ranges usually from 10-24 months depending on stage of disease at the moment of diagnosis. Early diagnosis can improve life expectancy significantly, unfortunately, long-term survival rate is very small, with less than 10% of patients living more than 5 years (malignant version).

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