Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma

There are close to three thousand new cases of malignant pleural mesothelioma diagnosed every year. It is considered to be a rare form of cancer, but the only things rare about it is that ninety percent of its victims got the disease by being exposed to asbestos, and it takes anywhere from thirty to fifty years before symptoms become severe enough to diagnose it. Of the three kinds of malignant mesothelioma, seventy-five per cent or so will be this type.

Where was all this happening? Everywhere, until 1980, when laws were put in place to protect workers, students, the military, and anyone else who was being exposed to asbestos particles from contamination.
If you, or a loved one ever worked with asbestos, or in buildings where asbestos was used for insulation, you need to be tested for malignant pleural mesothelioma.

If you were on a naval ship, worked in a boiler room, or were in the army repairing vehicles, in the car industry, in construction, insulating, cement work, or worked with textiles before protective laws wee in place, you could start showing symptoms in your 60’s or later.

Not to be mistaken for lung cancer, malignant pleural mesothelioma strikes the linings of the lungs and the chest cavity (called the pleura). Think of it as a large sac that surrounds the lungs and the membrane called the mesothelium, which works to provide necessary fluids that allow the lungs to expand and contract when your are breathing.

When you are exposed regularly to asbestos, you inhale or swallow some of the airborne asbestos fibers, which travel to the lungs and imbed themselves in the inside of the ribs and the outside of the lungs. This causes inflammation eventually, and then leads to cancerous tumors or asbestosis, which becomes mesothelioma years later.

By the time malignant pleural mesothelioma is diagnosed, the patient usually already has multiple tumors, in both the parietal and visceral surfaces of the pleura. These growths enlarge very quickly, causing extreme pain, and making breathing very difficult. In more advanced cases it will have spread to the nearest organs…the heart, lymph nodes, and the abdomen.

If you know that you have been exposed to asbestos in your early life, and have any combination of the symptoms…chronic coughing, wheezing, chest pain, shortness of breath, hoarseness, fluid around the lungs, difficulty talking, unexplained weight loss, or blood clots…go to a doctor at once for imaging tests.

Unfortunately, many of these symptoms can be attributed to other conditions, which makes diagnosis extremely difficult. Malignant pleural mesothelioma is deadly, and it kills quickly. If you have asbestos in your past, don’t wait…any symptoms should have you running to your doctor.

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