Malignant mesothelioma is a type of cancer that is quite rare; it affects only the thin wall of cells that line the internal organs and structures. This lining is called the mesothelium and malignant mesothelioma can manifest itself in three main ways. It can be pleural which affects the lungs, peritoneal which affects the abdominal cavity wall and pericardial which affects the lining in the heart. Experts believe that there is only one way to contract malignant mesothelioma and that is through exposure to asbestos.
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that is highly toxic to humans yet was once used in abundance in the building and construction trades. It was used as it has a very high tolerance of heat and it is remarkably strong, it was also very cheap. It is made of fibres which are microscopic and can be airborne when ceilings covered with asbestos crack or when it is otherwise exposed to the air. When fibres of asbestos get inside the body they cannot be broken down or expelled and this will result in serious scarring of the mesothelioma and inflammation. Once this scarring occurs it is only a matter of time before malignant mesothelioma takes hold in one of its various forms.
Symptoms of malignant mesothelioma can initially be quite hard to spot as they can be quite unnoticeable.
As a result they can be passed off as being day to day illnesses and this can cause even more problems as this delay gives malignant mesothelioma even more time to take hold of a person. It has been known for people with malignant mesothelioma to live with their symptoms for up to six months before they seek medical help with them. Symptoms of the various forms of malignant mesothelioma can include – shortness of breath, weight loss, nausea, vomiting, persistent coughing with or without blood in it, abdominal pains, stomach pains, chest pains, pain in the lower back and in some cases swelling of the face and arms and a loss of sensory capabilities. As these symptoms are so wide ranging and often seemingly unconnected it is no wonder that it can be difficult to obtain a correct diagnosis. Experts now recommend that anyone who has had prior exposure to asbestos at some point in their lives gets checked out for malignant mesothelioma even if they feel fit and well. Doing this could vastly extend a person’s life who could go on to be diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma.
Treatment for malignant mesothelioma can vary and surgery should only be an option if the disease is diagnosed in the very early stages. Otherwise it is more common for a person to undergo chemotherapy or radiotherapy to attempt to control the malignant mesothelioma. Although there is no known cure for malignant mesothelioma it can be controlled for some time if it is caught in time. Otherwise the outlook is not particularly positive and the best that many people with malignant mesothelioma can hope for is to be able to manage their symptoms and pain with painkillers and other medication.
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