You might have heard the term ‘mesothelioma’ sometime in the past but didn’t bother to delve into it too deeply. While we wish no one gets to experience this cancer, a comprehensive understanding of this disease is crucial.
Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that damages the layer covering the tissue of various organs. The inhalation of asbestos causes inflammation of the lungs and produces abnormal cancer cells in the body. The common symptoms of mesothelioma cancer include dry cough, loss of appetite, nausea, constant fever, respiratory problems, and many others. However, the symptoms vary according to the stage and types of cancer. There are generally three types of mesothelioma cancer, namely pleural, peritoneal, and pericardial mesothelioma.
The disease remained virtually unidentified and unexplored till the start of the 20th century. However, the incidence rate soared upwards as soon as industrialization begins and various industries intensified the use of asbestos.
If you wish to dig in further and learn more about this dangerous disease, here’s the guide:
Table of Contents
The principal cause, but not the only one, of mesothelioma, is asbestos exposure. As soon as the person absorbs or breathes in asbestos, the toxic fiber causes scarring in the lungs, abdomen, and heart. Apart from this, the naturally occurring silicate mineral also induces damage to DNA explicitly or implicitly. When a person inhales asbestos, the fiber travels to the layer sheathing the lungs, pleura and gets settled there. In contrast, peritoneal cancer involves the ingestion of asbestos instead of inhaling. Due to this, the fibers travel to the lining of the abdominal cavity, known as the peritoneum.
Although the symptoms of each type of mesothelioma cancer differ, the treatment outlook remains the same for all. The available treatment options include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery, immunotherapy, and tumor-treating fields (TTF).
2. Risk Factors
Risk factors refer to anything or situation that may increase the probability of developing mesothelioma. Apart from asbestos exposure, the following factors can also be alarming and tend to cause this cancer:
- Gender: Although mesothelioma cancer is not gender-specific, still the disease prevalence rate is higher in men. It may be because males have dominated the majority of asbestos-related occupations. Also, individuals with variations in BAP1, who previously had asbestos exposure, are more likely to contract mesothelioma.
- Age: The older population is at more risk of contracting mesothelioma than the young people. It is because the symptoms of this life-threatening disease take decades to turn up. The developing process of mesothelioma can take up to approximately 20-50 years. However, it is relevant to note that age alone is not a risk factor.
3. How to Prevent Mesothelioma?
Although governments in different states enforce asbestos rules and restrictions, past exposure cases are still acute. By eliminating asbestos-related products from the market, the concerned authorities can guard public health and control the disease. However, suppose an individual suffers through any symptom of mesothelioma, either shortness of breath or chest pain. In that case, it is expedient to consult a healthcare team. People at a greater risk of asbestos exposure may include electricians, pipefitters, insulators, plumbers, miners, renovation workers, and military soldiers.
While there is no definite way to wipe off mesothelioma entirely, there are still ways to reduce the risks to a great extent and protect ourselves:
Ensure a safe and secure workplace
It is a well-established fact now that asbestos is the underlying cause of mesothelioma in most cases. However, millions of human beings formerly became victims of this fibrous silicate mineral unknowingly. It is because these people were oblivious of the health risks associated with asbestos. Unfortunately, over the past several decades, manufacturers continue to obscure the pernicious effects of the toxic mineral from the people. It is the responsibility of companies to ensure a safe working environment for the workers. OSHA recommends the employers take the following measures:
- Proper ventilation and respiratory protection
- Educate about the asbestos-related risks and give training
- Regular air monitoring and assessment of workplace
Comply with safety instructions
On the other hand, employees should also co-operate and comply with the safety guidelines issued by the health and safety department of the company. In addition, ensure to wear personal protective equipment (PPE). There may be times when you will have to strip out of your work clothes, take a shower and wear a new dress to avail break or lunchtime. That way, you can avoid second-hand exposure, too. You can even confer with your doctor and ask for preventive measures to protect yourself from this cancer. The following actions can help you in the workplace:
- Castaway asbestos products in conformity with federal and state guidelines
- Avoid bringing back work clothes and shoes home since they may have asbestos traces
- Use a vacuum with HEPA filters when sweeping or junking asbestos waste
Keep your home safe
Older buildings and homes may have asbestos present. At times, leaving this fiber unattended can spell severe consequences down the road. In addition, as asbestos breaks down, its fibers turn airborne, posing health risks if inhaled. It doesn’t matter if you already live or purchase a new home; a regular inspection is crucial. Therefore, seek help from a professional to determine if the asbestos present in the house is a health hazard or not. However, never try to remove asbestos yourself without proper training. Implement the following measures to protect yourself and your family at home:
- Avoid performing any home remodeling activities in the presence of asbestos
- Frequent checkups of asbestos products to detect early signs of wear
- Consult an abatement expert if there’s any worn out or damaged asbestos product
If you or your close one have recently fallen victim to asbestos exposure, get a medical checkup done immediately. The signs and symptoms of mesothelioma cancer may take ages to show up. With that said, stay close with your mesothelioma patient. The news of cancer diagnosis can take a massive toll on a person’s well-being. Even the strongest ones get shaken by the revelation. Learning how to manage the haywire emotions isn’t an overnight fix. And coping with it all alone doesn’t feel very good. It takes a great deal of time to get accustomed to this unpleasant discovery. Besides, such people need genuine support and emotional assistance to deal with the situation.