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Asbestos Exposure

What is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a fibrous, heat-resistant natural material. Used as an insulation miracle for industrial industries, laws were set forth in 1970s to ban the material, which was founded to be highly toxic.

Is Second-hand Asbestos exposure possible?

Yes, second-hand exposure to asbestos is possible. Men and women who worked in asbestos-ridden environments would come home to their loved ones only to expose them to the toxic material. Asbestos dust is inhaled from the clothes and hair of others or from clusters circulating through the air.
Learn how asbestos exposure has affected the loved ones of Navy veterans

What is the latency period between Asbestos exposure and onset symptoms of Mesothelioma or other Asbestos-related diseases?

The latency period for onset symptoms of asbestos exposure is between 15 to 50 years with many individuals unaware of their diagnosis until the disease has reached an advanced stage.


What is Mesothelioma?

In basic medical terms, mesothelioma is a rare cancer in which cells of the mesothelium (a membrane that covers and protects most of the internal organs of the body) become abnormal and malignant.

How rare is the disease?

About 3000 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma in the United States each year.

Which type of Mesothelioma or Asbestos Cancer have you been diagnosed with?

Although it is technically a single membrane, parts of the mesothelium have been given different names in relation to the internal organs they surround. For instance, the membrane surrounding the abdominal cavity is called the peritoneum; the part surrounding the lungs and lines the wall of the chest cavity, the pleura; and the part of the membrane that covers and protects the heart is known as the pericardium.
Mesothelioma cancers associated with these parts of the membrane include:

  • Pleural mesothelioma
  • Pericardial mesothelioma
  • Peritoneal mesothelioma
  • Testicular mesothelioma

What are the medical options for treatment?

Treatment of mesothelioma may vary depending on the type, its aggressiveness and other factors. However, a combination of surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy is used in most cases. The symptoms of the disease are similar to many other conditions, and the abnormal cells divide without order and migrate from one part of the mesothelium to another with relative ease. In other words, the disease is usually well-established by the time it is diagnosed.

What factors can affect a Mesothelioma Prognosis?

There are five primary factors that doctors consider when determining a prognosis for mesothelioma patients. While these factors can help physicians provide patients with a prognosis, disease progression will still differ for each patient.

  1. Stage – If detected at an early stage, the patient will have more treatment options and a better prognosis than those diagnosed at a later stage.
  2. Cell Type – There are three main mesothelioma cell types (in order from most to least responsive to treatment): epithelioid, biphasic, and sarcomatoid.
  3. Location – The average life expectancy varies between mesothelioma types: pleural, peritoneal, pericardial and testicular.
  4. Metastasis – Once mesothelioma has spread to other parts of the body, it becomes much harder to remove the cancer or find success in chemotherapy.
  5. Overall Health – Younger patients typically have a better prognosis than older patients because they are able to withstand side effects from treatment. Additionally, the disease can worsen with the presence of poor overall health or other illnesses.

What is Pleural Mesothelioma?

Pleural mesothelioma affects the pleura, a sac surrounding the lungs that also contains the mesothelium membrane. It is the most common form of mesothelioma, but like all others — diagnoses made before the advanced stages of the disease are rare.
Asbestos fibers are inhaled and become embedded in the pleura or mesothelium where their naturally jagged shape causes inflammation. Eventually, as many as 40 or 50 years later, this inflammation can morph into asbestosis, asbestos lung cancer or mesothelioma.

What are the symptoms of Pleural Mesothelioma?

Pleural mesothelioma symptoms include:

  • Chest pain
  • Persistent cough
  • Shortness of breath, difficulty breathing normally
  • Fluid build-up around the lungs
  • Blood clots
  • Loss of appetite/rapid weight loss

What is Pericardial Mesothelioma?

Pericardial mesothelioma develops in the pericardium, a fluid filled lining that surrounds and protects the heart. It is one of the rarest forms of mesothelioma, and it is generally seen only in patients who have had an extended amount of exposure to asbestos.

What causes Pericardial Mesothelioma?

This form of mesothelioma is strongly associated with long-term asbestos exposure. In these cases, asbestos fibers become embedded in the pericardium. Once there, their naturally jagged shape causes inflammation to occur. Over time, scar tissue builds up as a result of the inflammation, and malignant cancer cells can develop. If they do, this leads to the pericardial mesothelioma diagnosis.

What are the symptoms of Pericardial Mesothelioma?

Some of the symptoms associated with pericardial mesothelioma include:

  • Chest pain
  • Persistent coughing
  • Heart palpitations or irregular heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath, difficulty breathing normally
  • Fever/night sweats

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