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Mesothelioma - The Simple Facts
What is Mesothelioma: Mesotheliomas form a range of tumors that usually arise in the pleura or in the abdominal cavity. Malignant tumors arising within the pleura are strongly associated with prior asbestos exposure in up to 92% of cases. The time period from initial exposure to development of the cancer may range from 25-45 years and the lifetime risk of developing mesothelioma following heavy exposure ranges from 7-10%. It spreads through the pleural space, directly invading other thoracic structures associated with pleural effusion. The underlying lung is usually encased within the tumor.
The abdominal peritoneal variant is also related to asbestos exposure and 50% of these patients may have pulmonary fibrosis. Although 50% of these cases may be limited to the abdominal cavity, intestinal obstruction is common frequently leading to death. The classic histopathology of the mesothelioma is a biphasic tumor with both an epithelioid and sarcomatoid or spindle cell component. From this description, it can be readily appreciated how the diagnosis may be very difficult to confirm.
Mesothelioma Symptoms: Many of the early symptoms of mesothelioma are often over looked due there similarity to symptoms of less serious diseases. A lot of patients do not show any signs of sickness in the beginning stages of the disease. The most common symptoms of mesothelioma include pleuritic pain, lasting cough, weakness, and weight loss. Most early symptoms will not be attributed to mesothelioma unless the patient is examined by a knowledgeable doctor who orders the appropriate tests. Test for mesothelioma, may include CT scans, x-rays, or MRI. .
What Jobs Are Associated With Mesothelioma: Asbestos was used in a lot of occupations. A large amount of former military personnel, came into contact with asbestos during their service. Large amounts of asbestos were used in shipbuilding and construction prior to the mid -1970's. Anyone involved with those industries is at a higher risk for developing an asbestos related disease, including mesothelioma. The typical exposure period is lengthy, but some persons with short but intense exposures develop mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma can also occur from non-occupational exposure, as evidenced by manifestation of the disease in women whose exposure came from washing the clothing of men who worked with asbestos. A unique feature of asbestos-related injuries is the long latency period between exposure to asbestos and the onset of the injury or disease. For mesotheliomas, the latency period is between 15 and 50 years, or more. That means that a person could have been exposed to asbestos 50 years ago, and develop mesothelioma today. The average mesothelioma latency period is approximately 35 - 40 years. On average 3,100 cases per year of malignant mesothelioma are being reported in the United States, and it appears to be rising. The disease is three times more common in males than in females. In men, the occurrence of mesothelioma is ten times higher in men between the ages of 60-72 as compared to men between the ages of 30-42. Job site exposure to asbestos over the past fifty years in the United States is calculated to have occurred in over 8 million people.
Why did we use so much Asbestos: Asbestos is a great material for the manufacturing and construction industry. It does not burn and transmits heat very poorly, making it a great insulator against heat. It is a poor conductor of electricity and is also used as an insulator against electricity. It resists rust and can be used in exterior applications. Asbestos is a strong material and yet flexible. It has the soft and pliable qualities of cloth making it useful in protective clothing. Asbestos can be applied to a product by spraying painting it on or it can be added to a product such as concrete.
There is a website that provides facts and other great information on Mesothelioma and numerous medical conditions, the website is called: All About Health, and can be found at this url:
By Robert W. Benjamin
Copyright � 2007
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