Mesothelioma, a rare cancer affecting the lining of the body’s internal organs, is almost exclusively caused by the inhalation of asbestos fibers. Many Americans spent years of their lives working and living in close proximity to asbestos without even realizing the danger that they were being exposed to. There is no cure for mesothelioma, which may appear decades after the asbestos exposure.
Medical science has identified three varieties of mesothelioma, all of which are associated with asbestos exposure. These are:
Pleural mesothelioma develops in the pleura, the protective lining of the lungs. When asbestos fibers get trapped between pleural cells, they can begin to cause cancerous cells to proliferate. This may result in the following symptoms:
- Chronic coughing
- Coughing up blood
- Chest wall pain
- Difficulty breathing and swallowing
- Lumps appearing under skin of the chest
- Significant, unexplained weight loss
- Night sweats
Individuals with peritoneal mesothelioma develop the disease in the peritoneum, the lining of the abdominal cavity, and may experience a number of different symptoms as a result of their condition. Some of the most common of these include:
- Pain in the abdomen or stomach
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Sudden weight loss or loss of appetite
- Abdominal lumps
Of all the forms of mesothelioma, pericardial mesothelioma is the rarest. This cancer attacks the membrane surrounding the heart. If asbestos fibers become trapped between the layers of the membrane, mesothelioma may start to form. Researchers estimate that only 1-6% of mesothelioma victims suffer from this specific type of cancer, but it remains a threat to people who have been exposed to asbestos.
- Pain in the chest
- Long-lasting coughs
- Irregular heartbeats
- Fluttering of the heart
- Difficulty breathing
Typically, mesothelioma attacks the lungs or abdomen. It is thought to be caused by the inhalation or accidental swallowing of tiny asbestos particles in the air. The disease sometimes affects the heart as well, though the causes of this variety of mesothelioma are less clear.
If you begin to develop these or any other potential symptoms of mesothelioma, you should consult with a qualified medical professional as soon as possible. The sooner you can start treatment for mesothelioma, the better your chances are of slowing the progression of the disease, so do not hesitate to take action if you believe you may have been exposed to asbestos and you begin exhibiting any symptoms of this dangerous disease.