Mesothelioma is a type of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. Although the disease is not as popular as the other types of cancer, it is nonetheless a serious concern because as of today, there is no known cure for it.
Statistics show that in the United States, at least 2,800 people are diagnosed with this type of cancer every year. Although there is no data saying that this estimate is increasing, the number of people prone to mesothelioma doesn’t decrease. Moreover, most patients tend to be men and most of them are past the age of 60.
There are three types of mesothelioma and they are classified based on the location where the disease develops. If it occurs at the lining of the lungs, then it is called pleural mesothelioma. If it is found in the lining of the abdomen, then it’s peritoneal mesothelioma; and when it is found in the heart, it’s called pericardial mesothelioma. Pleural mesothelioma is the most common type of this cancer because the exposure people usually have with asbestos is through inhaling it. Rarely is it eaten and so peritoneal mesothelioma is not as common.
There are many symptoms of this type of cancer, but what’s tricky about them is that they are also symptoms of other diseases. A person having mesothelioma may experience chest pain and coughing, vomiting and frequent nausea, loss of weight, or even the presence of fluid in the lungs or the abdomen. Anemia can also be a symptom most commonly experienced by women.
You will notice that these symptoms are common and if you experience them, you cannot be sure that you have mesothelioma. To be sure, what doctors do is to administer a lot of tests that will eliminate the other diseases among the choices of possible sicknesses. Based on this, you would already have an idea of how difficult mesothelioma is to diagnose. Moreover, it won’t be after 20-50 years that these symptoms will show. Hence, more people die quickly of mesothelioma because the sickness is found when it is already at a late stage.
There are four stages of mesothelioma. Stage I occurs when the tumor is only in one location, say, the lining of the abdomen. Stage II is also when the main tumor is in one area except that it is slowly spreading to nearby areas. These two stages can be treated to slow down the progression of this cancer, but doing so for the next two stages will not make much difference. Stage 3 and 4 occurs when the tumor spreads to several parts of the body even those that are far from the main area of the tumor.
Once diagnosed with mesothelioma, a prognosis should follow telling you about the condition of the disease in your body. Prognoses differ based on factors like the type of mesothelioma, the cancer stage it is in, your age, your overall health, and whether or not it has spread in the different parts of your body.
Around 10% of those diagnosed with mesothelioma are able to live for 5 more years especially when it’s just at the first stage and the person is young enough to undergo surgery. However, the average lifespan for those who cannot go through surgery anymore because of age and other health concerns is 21 months when it is mesothelioma I. For those who have mesothelioma II, it’s 19 months, and for those who have stage 3 or 4 have a lifespan of 12-16 months.
When it comes to treatment, there is still no cure for this disease except that there are a few ways to prolong the life of the patient. Treatments like chemotherapy and surgery can help in the early stages. For the later stages, only treatments that can alleviate the pain and lessen the uncomfortable feelings of patients will only be given since the tumor has spread far enough for it to be treated.
If you want to know more about mesothelioma and how it can be prevented or healed to some extent, you can consult with https://www.mesotheliomahelp.org. They can also help you in other ways like giving support, legal help, and recommendations about the treatments some of their patients have taken.