Mesothelioma is an uncommon form of cancer, usually associated with previous exposure to asbestos, which affects the pleura, a sac which surrounds the lungs, the peritoneum, the lining of the abdominal cavity, or the pericardium, a sac that surrounds the heart.
In this disease, malignant (cancerous) cells are found in the mesothelium, a protective sac that covers most of the body’s internal organs. Most people who develop mesothelioma have worked on jobs where they inhaled asbestos particles, or have been exposed to asbestos dust and fiber in other ways, such as by washing the clothes of a family member who worked with asbestos, or by home renovation using asbestos cement products.
Mesothelioma is one of the most deadly diseases ever known. It alone is responsible for killing at least over 1500 people of our country every year. When a person is diagnosed with this disease, he knows that his lifespan has reduced drastically and would be lasting a mere 24 months from the date of contraction with this disease.
It is a disease caused by the mineral Asbestos which the workers and the laborers contact during digging of mines, working in factories, at shipyards or steel workers etc. It is caused when the workers working in the dust inhales asbestos and the mineral affects the lungs and starts to develop into cancer. It has no smell or taste is not visible to the naked eye but when inhaled causes a lot of problems.
Mesothelioma is a very rare and serious form of cancer. In Mesothelioma, the cancerous cells are found in the mesothelium, a protective pouch which covers most of the internal organs of the body. Generally, those who inhale asbestos particles while working on a job that gives exposure to the asbestos dust and fiber, become victims of this disease. Some Mesothelioma patients get exposure in other forms, such as, washing the clothes of someone who has worked with asbestos. Such people may inhale the asbestos dust that comes out while washing the asbestos-contaminated dress materials. Some may get infected during the process of renovation of house, using asbestos cement products.
Diagnosis of Mesothelioma is very difficult as its symptoms may not appear for a long time which not only complicates the diagnosis process but also its treatment. Most common symptoms that can occur are fatigue and shortness of breath. Moreover acute pain in the chest occurs frequently.
Patients diagnosed with any of the above symptoms are advised to see a physician and medical expert for thorough evaluation before it becomes too late.
Mesothelioma is usually associated with exposure to asbestos. It is true that the disease occurs mostly in the age group from 20 to 40.
Men are more prone to mesothelioma. However, some women are also caught up by this disease. As one grows in age, the risk of mesothelioma too increases.
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Asbestos is well recognized as a health hazard and is highly regulated. An estimated 1.3 million employees in construction and general industry face significant asbestos exposure on the job. Heaviest exposures occur in the construction industry, particularly during the removal of asbestos during renovation or demolition. Employees are also likely to be exposed during the manufacture of asbestos products (such as textiles, friction products, insulation, and other building materials) and during automotive brake and clutch repair work.
Asbestosis is mechanical damage to the lung caused by inhaling asbestos. The asbestos fibers tend to irritate the lung tissue causing inflammation. Two of the severe side-effects of asbestos are Mesothelioma, a cancerous tumor and Lung Cancer.
There is no scientific consensus as to whether there does indeed exist a threshold of exposure to asbestos below which a person is at zero risk of developing mesothelioma. The HSE does not assume that such a threshold exists, since they consider that it cannot currently be quantified for practical purposes; they cite evidence from epidemiological studies of asbestos exposed groups to argue that any such threshold for mesothelioma must be at a very low level.
Care should be taken to distinguish between several forms of relevant diseases. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), these may defined as:-
asbestosis (which is a slowly developing fibrosis of the lung caused by the inhalation of high concentrations of asbestos dust and/or long exposure),
lung cancer, or “bronchial carcinoma” which can result from occupational exposures to certain substances, including asbestos fibres (even without co-existing asbestosis) and, mesothelioma which is a malignant tumour of the pleura or peritoneum.
The latter is normally a very rare type of cancer (typically less than 0.04% of all deaths in the general population). A higher incidence of mesothelioma has nearly always been related to the inhalation of mineral fibres, and in the majority of cases to occupational asbestos exposure.
In order to not present an over-long article here, currently only specific examples regarding the situation in Britain and the USA are included. (links to resources regarding the situation in other countries are listed below).
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