6 Things You Should Never Ignore About Mesothelioma
What is Mesothelioma?
The mesothelium in your body has many important functions, such as protecting your lungs and other important organs in your body during movement to playing a role in homeostasis. However, the tissue cells of the mesothelial are susceptible to cancer known as mesothelioma, or malignant mesothelioma, affecting thousands of people every year.
Mesothelioma cancer is divided into two major categories: pleural mesothelioma and peritoneal mesothelioma. The mesothelioma definition changes whether it’s malignant or benign. Malignant means the mesothelioma is cancerous, while benign means it’s not. Regardless of whether mesothelioma is malignant or benign, pleural mesothelioma affects the lungs, which accounts for almost 90% of all cases with peritoneal mesothelioma of the abdomen only accounting for about 10%. Testicular mesothelioma of the testes and pericardial mesothelioma of the heart also exist, but they are extremely rare and only account for less than 1% of mesothelioma sufferers.
What is Mesothelioma Symptoms?
Much like any cancer, disease, or other chronic health conditions, mesothelioma comes with a handful of common symptoms. However, since mesothelial tissue is found in different parts of the body, mesothelioma symptoms could vary depending on where the cancer is located. Fever, general weakness, and night sweats are individual symptoms of either type of mesothelioma, but all types of this cancer share symptoms as well. Here are the common symptoms of mesothelioma regardless of the location of the cancer:
1. Shortness of Breath
Since breathing is such an automatic process, we don’t consciously think of it. However, if you’re starting to feel like it’s a struggle to breathe, then you’re feeling shortness of breath. Shortness of breath is mostly associated with pleural mesothelioma, but this symptom can also stem from peritoneal mesothelioma. Mesothelioma makes it difficult to catch your breath and it will feel like you’re not getting enough oxygen for the body. It may feel as if you’re consciously trying to breathe to compensate for reduced oxygen levels.
2. Loss of Appetite
Mesothelioma cancer does have a dietary side effect that can affect a person’s nutrition, which will worsen the condition. When you experience loss of appetite due to peritoneal mesothelioma or pleural mesothelioma, you may experience weight loss due to skipped meals, abdominal pain, or vomiting that makes retaining essential nutrients difficult. Therefore, some mesothelioma treatment focuses on stimulating your appetite as you need the nutrition to control other symptoms of mesothelioma and improve your quality of life when battling the condition.
3. Chest Pain
Shortness of breath and chest pain often go together, but if you’re experiencing both, then you could be suffering from any range of medical conditions, including mesothelioma. Mesothelioma chest pain can range from deep dull pain to a stabbing sensation. The chest pain associated with mesothelioma is often accompanied by acute coughing, heart palpitations, and shoulder pain. Of course, these symptoms can mimic a heart attack or other health issue, so it’s important to seek medical attention if you’re experiencing this list of symptoms.
What Causes Mesothelioma?
Both major forms of malignant mesothelioma, pleural mesothelioma, and peritoneal mesothelioma have one primary cause: asbestos exposure. However, rare cases of malignant mesothelioma can be caused by another fibrous material known as erionite. Erionite has similar chemical makeup to asbestos and is normally found in gravel quarries.
How Do You Get Mesothelioma?
These different fibers, mainly asbestos fibers, that mesothelioma victims breathe in find their way into the pleura or abdominal lining that causes inflammation and eventual cancerous mutations. The fibers enter through the lungs and make their way through the small airways, eventually making their way to the linings of the lungs and heart. While most exposure to harmful mesothelioma-related fibers comes from the air, some of it can come from the water supply.
Who Is at Risk of Mesothelioma?
Those at a higher risk of mesothelioma are older adults who worked blue-collar jobs with exposure to occupational hazards, such as asbestos fibers. Some of these blue-collar jobs include plumbers, insulators, electricians, miners, military, or home remodelers. Secondary exposure to asbestos is also possible for family members of workers who are exposed to this mesothelioma-causing fiber at work. A family history of malignant mesothelioma is also possible.
While this cancer is incurable, mesothelioma treatment can improve quality of life and it includes radiation, surgery, or chemotherapy. Limiting your exposure to dust and asbestos is the best way to reduce your risk of mesothelioma.