Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Facts And Statistics About Mesothelioma

Asbestos originated as a cause of cancer in the 1930s. Manufacturing industries used asbestos in their production processes which caused many of the workers to be exposed to copious amounts of asbestos. It is also known to cause lung cancer and what used to be known as "asbestosis." In spite of that, asbestos was continued to be used by the industries for decades.

Facts Regarding Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma has a long latency period, and is recognized as a severe and serious disease. The mesothelioma patients are often victims of inaccurate diagnoses. Many of the symptoms of mesothelioma are similar to that of other diseases like pneumonia, heart diseases, flu, bronchitis and others. This makes the detection of mesothelioma difficult.

Mesothelioma is most commonly found in people in the age group of 55-70 years. It is a rare disease affecting people below 50 years of age. And roughly, 75 percent of the patients are above 65 years.

Because of the long latency period mesothelioma is mostly diagnosed only in the later stages. The symptoms cannot be seen at the early stages. The average latency period is around 30 years. The average survival rate is around one year after the diagnosis. But the five year relative rate of survival is also seen to be improving from just ten percent cases it stood at just five years ago.

This means that there are some rare cases where the patient survives for as long as 5 years since the diagnosis.

Summary of Facts

  • The latency period is around 30-40 years.
  • Mesothelioma is a terminal disease.
  • It is mostly diagnosed in the later stages.
  • Exposure to asbestos is the main cause of this disease.
  • It is commonly misdiagnosed as flu.

People suffering from mesothelioma are mainly from the age group of 55-75 years.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Lung Cancer And Mesothelioma - The Role Of Smoking

Lung cancer and pleural mesothelioma, both affect the lungs of a person. Mesothelioma is not a form of lung cancer; both of these are two different and distinct diseases. Lung cancer develops in the tissues of the lungs, while mesothelioma affects the lining around the lungs which is called 'pleura'. Both these diseases cause serious health issues.

Mesothelioma is an asbestos induced disease. There are no other known causes for this disease. If a person has mesothelioma, then it can be implied that he/she was exposed to asbestos. This is why mesothelioma is called a 'signature disease' for exposure to asbestos.

Lung cancer can be caused due to smoking, and also due to exposure to asbestos. But mesothelioma cannot be caused by smoking. A person who is an active smoker and who was also exposed to asbestos has a much higher risk of getting lung cancer.

Cancer, Smoking and Mesothelioma

Smoking is always considered harmful to the body, especially to the lungs. Smoking and exposure to asbestos can both separately prove to be fatal to a person. Quitting smoking can however reduce the severity of developing lung cancer till an extent. Quitting smoking can considerably lower the risk of cancer in the future, but in way guarantees to do so.

If you are a smoker and are also suffering from an asbestos inflicted disease, then quitting smoking can be helpful to improve the quality of life. It can slow down the progress of the disease by making breathing easier, and can also improve the blood circulation. It is also helpful to reduce the stress on the heart.

It therefore becomes essential to know what the "synergistic effect" is. According to the 'synergistic effect', a combination of two or more exposures can be more dangerous than the aggregate of the individual exposures.

Here is an example to explain this well. Exposure to asbestos can increase the chances of a person to get lung cancer by 5 times. And continual smoking can increase the risk of lung cancer by 10 times. But if a person is an active smoker and was also exposed to asbestos, then his chance of getting lung cancer increases by 50 times and not 15 times. The individual risks are multiplied and not added.

The risk of cancer due to smoking will reduce once the person quits smoking. As per the American Lung Association, if a person quits smoking today, then his risk of cancer after a period of ten years will be half of what it would have been if he had not quit smoking. The risk of strokes, heart diseases and other cancers will also come down significantly.

Giving up smoking can bring multiple health benefits for the patient. The benefits are higher for a person suffering from an asbestos inflicted disease, or for one who has a history of exposure to asbestos.

It is advisable that patients remember that smoking can increase the risk and severity of lung cancer and mesothelioma by manifolds. While mesothelioma will only occur from asbestos exposure, but fact of the matter is that smoking does cause already suffering patients greater discomfort

What is Mesothelioma Cancer?

You see the commercials everyday on television for lawyers that deal in mesothelioma claims. Before 1985, mesothelioma cancer was practically unknown, but when asbestos was discovered to be a proven carcinogen after the medical community suspected it for over fifty years of causing mesothelioma cancer and the asbestos companies staunchly denied it, this form of cancer became a household word to millions of American citizens.

Mesothelioma is caused by exposure to asbestos and it is believed that anyone who is also exposed to radion makes the development of the cancer even more likely. At one point in time, the material was found in flooring, ceiling tiles, pipe fittings, caulking, roofing, plaster, and other construction products. Most facilities and power plants that generated heat had pipes wrapped in asbestos. Asbestos releases fibers into the air when it is disturbed and workers breathe it in when they are dealing with it. It can also get on their clothing and shoes which subsequently exposes family members to it. Mesothelioma risks have decreased dramatically since 1985 and the movement to remove the asbestos from as many places as possible. However older homes and businesses that have not had the material removed still post serious mesothelioma risks to anyone coming into contact with it.

Mesothelioma symptoms include shortness of breath, fatigue, weight loss, persistence cough, hoarseness, trouble swallowing and fever. Unfortunately mesothelioma symptoms take years to develop and by the time they do, the person with mesothelioma could be diagnosed as having some other disease or type of cancer. It is also not just a type of lung cancer. The cancer starts in the lung lining or in the abdominal cavities and it can eventually spread to other organs, usually the heart and reproductive organs. It is an uncontrolled cellular growth that causes the mesothelium layers in the body to thicken and retain fluid and while some cases are benign, the majority are not.

As more and more cases are properly diagnosed, the rise in mesothelioma claims rise. It does not produce typical tumors like a regular cancer would and it is usually caught well after the asbestos in the system has metastasized an organ. It is a slow killer, the asbestos taking years to corrupt the body to the point of no return. Additionally the symptoms are so similar to other diseases that mesothelioma treatments sometimes come too late to make any difference.

Early diagnosis is the only way a patient can be treated for mesothelioma. While there is ongoing research into treatment options, treatment tends to steer towards slowing down the growth of the cells usually through chemotherapy or surgery it the mesothelioma is the pleural type and caught only in its earliest stages. Radiation therapy is also used in combination with the chemotherapy and in many cases, this is simply not enough. Mesothelioma is a disease that is usually diagnosed too late and many doctors are simply resigned to do everything they can to make their patients comfortable as treatments still need to be perfected towards reversing the damage.