Mesothelioma is one of the rarest types of cancer that has unfortunately become more common in the past few decades. This type of cancer affects the mesothelium, which is a protective coating that lines the internal organs.
The illness has been more common in recent decades because one of the primary causes for this disease has been asbestos fibers becoming embedded in the lungs and leading to Mesothelioma of the lungs. Mesothelioma also commonly occurs in the pericardium (the lining on the heart) and the peritoneum (the lining of the abdominal cavity. The disease can also present in the tunica vaginalis, which is the coating that surrounds the testis.
With the industrialization of the world in the past century, thousands of workers have been exposed to chemicals and have inhaled some nasty substances. Asbestos is one of those nasty substances which can leave fibers lodged in the lungs that eventually lead to Mesothelioma. As the workers of the 1950’s and 1960s have gotten older, many of them have found themselves with this terrible condition.
It can often take a number of decades for the symptoms of Mesothelioma to present, and they are easy to misdiagnose. Because it was so rare, initially doctors commonly confused Mesothelioma with other illnesses involving the heart of the lungs.
The symptoms of Mesothelioma include shortness of breath, weight loss, fatigue, chest pain and wheezing. Some of those symptoms can be confused for emphysema or a heart condition. As the disease progresses, symptoms can include pleural effusion (a buildup of fluid between the layers of tissue that line the lungs and chest cavity) and blood clots.
Unfortunately Mesothelioma is often diagnosed very late in the disease’s progress because of that similarity to other illnesses. Life expectancy for people diagnosed with Mesothelioma is usually short – between a few months and a couple of years. There are treatments available including radiotherapy and chemotherapy, but prognosis is usually bad.
The best way to avoid this terrible disease is to avoid contact with substances like asbestos that can lead to it developing. For people who have already contracted the illness, it is advisable to contact a lawyer because much of the time a previous employer is responsible for contact with the noxious substances.