After receiving a mesothelioma diagnosis, it is hard to face the facts that you have a terminal cancer. A cancer of the mesothelium, mesothelioma is a thin lining surrounding the major internal organs of the body. It is measured as the epidemiological marker for asbestos exposure. As early as the 1870’s, primary pleural tumors have been reported. It was a short 39 years later in 1909 that it was termed mesothelioma. Modern concepts, pathology and mesothelioma diagnosis were made in 1931 when the migration of the asbestos fibers to the lymph stream was noted. An association for mesothelioma was first demonstrated amongst textile workers that had asbestos exposure. Later shipyard workers, miners and millers all displayed symptoms of mesothelioma.
Many people with mesothelioma want to know what risk factors led to their diagnosis. The typical culprit has been contact at a workplace with asbestos. This has dubbed the nickname of “occupational cancer” to this disease. Manufacturing, automobile, shipyards, construction are the industries that used and manufactured asbestos in abundance 30-50 years ago. They present the highest risk in terms of asbestos exposure to their employees as they all used asbestos in their products. Some asbestos remains – to this day- in these industries but it they checked regularly for contamination.
Another condition that is asbestos related is asbestosis. This respiratory ailment causes the lungs to swell after scar tissue develops from asbestos fibers that have settled there. This prevents the exchange of oxygen and other gases in the lungs as the scarring produces heavy amounts of fluid that block air from passing properly. Doctors have learned this fluid must be drained or mucous develops and this creates more complications. In the long term, asbestosis can cause mesothelioma. Treatment for this asbestos-related illness is essential to prevent further complications. There are surgical procedures, medicines, and breathing techniques to assist the patient in carrying out normal daily activities.
Another circumstance that can lead to a mesothelioma diagnosis is residing in older houses. Homes built before 1980 have a valid chance of containing traces of asbestos in the walls, tiles and any textured paints. Also, old appliances like dish washers, toaster and ovens can contain asbestos fibers. The mineral was used to reduce the risk of electrical fires until the EPA banned it in manufacturing for such household items after 1980. Anyone with plans to purchase a home built before this year should have it thoroughly inspected by a licensed professional for asbestos.
Secondary exposure is also a known cause for a mesothelioma diagnosis of family members. Because the fibers are so microscopic, they traveled home on the clothes of employees who were exposed at work. When that employee arrived home, those fibers were then transferred to spouses and children. Mesothelioma cancer can affect generations of families because of this exposure.