Mesothelioma: What You Need to Know

You’ve probably heard of a disease called mesothelioma. This form of cancer is extremely aggressive, and is often unresponsive to traditional treatment methods. And since mesothelioma typically affects men, understanding this disease is crucial to men’s health and well-being. The following is an in-depth look at mesothelioma, which includes everything you need to know about this life-threatening disease.

What is Mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is a rare, though usually aggressive, form of cancer that affects the thin tissues surrounding the internal organs. In most cases, mesothelioma is the result of exposure to a mineral called asbestos. Asbestos is comprised of small fibers that, when swallowed or inhaled, irritate the internal organs and may lead to the development of mesothelioma.

Who’s at Risk?

Since mesothelioma is caused by exposure to asbestos, anyone who has come into contact with this mineral is at risk. In most cases, exposure to asbestos in the workplace is the primary cause of this disease. When it comes to workplace exposure, individuals who have worked in the following occupations are at risk:

  • Military careers. US veterans make up a large percentage of mesothelioma patients. Until the mid-1970’s, asbestos was used in a number of military capacities, including shipbuilding, the manufacture of weaponry and ammunition, and the construction of barracks and other military buildings.
  • Construction. Asbestos was once used in concrete and building insulation. Because of this, plumbers, electricians, insulators, carpenters and other types of construction workers are at risk for developing mesothelioma.
  • Firefighting. Because older buildings contain asbestos and other toxic materials, firefighters are at an increased risk for mesothelioma.
  • Factory work. Employees of textile, paper and steel mills may have been exposed to asbestos while on the job. Workers associated with the production and distribution of asbestos are at risk, as well.
  • Other occupations. Other high-risk occupations include work inside power plants, lumber yards, shipyards and oil refineries.

It’s important to note that, in cases of mesothelioma resulting from workplace exposure, patients are often entitled to financial compensation. Certain law offices specialize in asbestos-related lawsuits, and work to help patients receive compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages and other factors. On their site, Baron and Budd offer extensive information related to asbestos lawsuits and mesothelioma.

The Symptoms of Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma symptoms can differ according to factors like location, stage and affected organs. Typically, mesothelioma develops in either the lungs or the abdomen, which leads to symptoms like the following:

  • Shortness of breath, which can be moderate or severe.
  • Painful coughing.
  • Chest pain or discomfort.
  • The development of lumps beneath the skin of the chest or abdomen.
  • Pain or swelling in the abdomen.
  • Unexplained weight loss.

Treating Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is extremely aggressive. What’s more, this disease is associated with a latency period of up to thirty years. This means that, in some cases, symptoms don’t appear until the disease has progressed beyond the point of effective treatment. However, there are therapies that can slow the spread of mesothelioma, as well as enhance comfort and improve quality of life. Typically, mesothelioma is addressed in the following ways:

  • Surgery. In some cases, surgery can be used to remove mesothelioma, either partially or fully. Surgery can also be used to remove fluid buildup, as well as remove damaged tissue.
  • Chemotherapy. Chemo can inhibit the growth of mesothelioma, and is typically used following surgery to eradicate cancer and damaged tissue. In patients with mesothelioma in the abdominal organs, chemotherapy can be administered directly to the affected areas, while leaving healthy cells and tissues intact.
  • Radiation. Radiation can be used to shrink cancerous cells, as well as reduce the pain and discomfort associated with mesothelioma.


Due to the aggressive nature of mesothelioma, early detection is essential to recovery. If you have been exposed to asbestos, don’t wait; talk to a doctor about your risks for developing this deadly disease.

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