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Mesothelioma is a deadly and excruciatingly painful form of cancer caused by asbestos exposure. It has no cure. Symptoms typically do not appear for 10 to 50 years after exposure, and many victims are not even aware that they have been exposed.
The mesothelium is a protective lining around the lungs, abdominal organs, and heart. Mesothelioma is a cancer of this lining. The most common type, pleural mesothelioma, affects the lining around the lungs and is often confused with lung cancer that can also be caused by asbestos exposure.
Once mesothelioma is diagnosed it progresses quickly. Most patients are given less than a year to live. Medical advances are being made against the disease and some of the latest treatments offer a much greater life expectancy, but you must be in the early stages to benefit.
Mesothelioma is an unbelievably painful disease. Pain management makes up a large portion of treatment. Patients should not hesitate to seek medical relief for their pain and to tell their doctors when pain relief is no longer effective. Minimizing the pain increases the efficacy of treatment and helps to maintain the best possible quality of life. Unfortunately, most patients will finally reach a point where nothing can keep the pain at bay.
Asbestos is a heat and fire resistant substance that has been use in thousands of products since the late 1800's. Health risks of asbestos exposure were documented as early as the early 1900's but heavy use of the substance did not begin until the 1940's.
The majority of mesothelioma victims are people who have worked with asbestos in industries and environments such as:
- Oil refineries
- Automotive manufacture and repair
- Small appliance manufacturing
Mesothelioma is not contagious, but the families of workers in high risk industries are also at risk for exposure because of the asbestos brought home in workers' clothing. If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, anyone who lived in your household at the time you were exposed should be tested as well.
Asbestos has been used in thousands of construction applications, and is very common in older homes. An asbestos product has been made for virtually every part of a house you can think of, including:
In addition to the house itself, many household items contain asbestos.
Asbestos exposure today
Since mesothelioma symptoms take decades to surface, most of today's cases stem from exposure that was long in the past, but asbestos exposure is still happening today. People who live in older homes, especially those why choose to renovate, are at an elevated risk for exposure. Workers in many industries still work with the toxic substance in alarming amounts every day. An unacceptable number of schools still contain asbestos, putting our children, teachers, and administrators at a constant risk for exposure. While a good deal of asbestos is sealed and contained an accident or catastrophic event can quickly set asbestos free.
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