What is Mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is a cancer that affects the lining around the lungs, heart, and abdominal cavities - called the mesothelium - which is primarily caused by chronic exposure to asbestos or asbestos related products. As asbestos fibers enter the body, either by breathing or swallowing, they cause normally healthy cells to mutate into cancer. This exposure can come directly, such as working in an asbestos processing center, or indirectly by inhalation of residual asbestos particles remaining on clothing or building materials. Studies show that exposure as short as one year can cause a variety of asbestos-related illnesses, including mesothelioma.

Three Types of Mesothelioma:

There are three main types of mesothelioma: Pleural, Peritoneal, and Pericardial.  Each affects a different area of the body, and can cause different symptoms.

Pleural mesothelioma:
Affects the lining around the lungs.  Microscopic and jagged asbestos fibers shred these delicate cells, and over time causes scarring and mutations that will eventually lead to cellular plaques.  These plaques prevent proper lung function and can lead to cancer.

Peritoneal mesothelioma:
This equally dangerous cancer affects the lining in the gut that surrounds the stomach and the intestines.  Asbestos particles can travel through the body and pierce these cells and cause tumors to develop.

Pericardial mesothelioma:
This rarest form of cancer affects the sack that surrounds the heart.  The pericardial sack provides the lubrication for the heart to beat properly, and when cancerous tumors and plaques develop it can cause a number of serious health problems.

Symptoms of Mesothelioma Types:
  • Symptoms of pleural mesothelioma:
    • Chest pain
    • Fluid in the lungs
    • Shortness of breath
    • Sustained cough
    • Hoarseness
    • Wheezing
  • Symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma
    • Abdominal pain
    • Fluid in the gastrointestinal tract or abdomen
    • Lumps in the abdomen
    • Bowel movement difficulties
    • Weight loss
    • Nausea
  • Symptoms of pericardial mesothelioma:
    • Persistent cough
    • Chest pain
    • Heart palpitations
    • Shortness of breath
Mesothelioma and Cell Mutations.

Mesothelioma causes the cells of the mesothelium to mutate and multiply infinitely. This mutation causes tumors that can prevent proper lung and heart function. Because the cells of the mesothelium are responsible for providing fluid lubrication for the body’s internal organs, mesothelioma is particularly insidious because it can affect multiple organs simultaneously, usually without major symptoms or pain. Mesothelioma can also invade parts of the immune system, including bone marrow, lymph nodes, and spleen, where it continues to mutate and destroy healthy cells.

Development Time of Mesothelioma:

The cancerous cells also lie dormant for many years, and it is not uncommon for the first effects of mesothelioma to appear 20 to 30 years after initial exposure. Unfortunately, there is no cure for mesothelioma, and treatment ranges from preventive surgery to chemotherapy and radiation treatments. By the time symptoms manifest, it is quite often too late. Because mesothelioma lays dormant for so long, post diagnosis survival ranges from 1-5 years depending on the stage of the cancer and the age and condition of the victim.

Other Studies of Mesothelioma and Numbers of Asbestos Related Deaths:

Studies show that there are 10,000 asbestos-related deaths in the United States every year. These 10,000 people are not just a statistic; they are grandfathers and grandmothers, mothers and fathers, friends and neighbors. Very often asbestos companies knew the risks involved with their products, but chose to ignore the danger for the sake of profits. If you or a loved one has contracted Mesothelioma because of negligent use of asbestos, then you have a duty and obligation to seek restitution for your loss. Knowledgeable attorneys in your state are ready to take your case. Contact one today.

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What is Mesothelioma? Types of Mesothelioma, Mesothelioma & Cell Mutations page updated on 1/11/2012