The Mesothelioma Family Resource Center is dedicated to providing information on mesothelioma, including the latest mesothelioma treatment options and legal precedents. It is our strongest desire to equip you with knowledge about this cancer and your options.
What is Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is a rare form of asbestos cancer that develops in the mesothelial cells. These cells form tissue that surround or line the lungs, heart, and stomach. The mesothelial cells protect these organs by producing a lubricating fluid that allows them to move smoothly.
Asbestos is the overwhelming cause of mesothelioma in the United States. Typically the asbestos exposure occurred in an occupation or work environment over a prolonged period of time. However, it is also well-established that bystander (working near others using asbestos products) and household exposures (exposure from family members and their work clothes in the home) are known causes of mesothelioma. There is no known safe level of exposure to asbestos.
Types of Mesothelioma
There are three types of mesothelioma: Pleural Mesothelioma, Peritoneal Mesothelioma, and Pericardial Mesothelioma.
* Pleural Mesothelioma accounts for 75% of all diagnoses.
* Peritoneal Mesothelioma accounts for less than 20% of all mesothelioma cases.
* Pericardial Mesothelioma is the most rare and accounts for very few cases.
A risk factor is anything that increases your chance of getting a disease. While you may have one or many of the risk factors associated with a disease, such as mesothelioma, that does not mean that you will get the disease.
The main risk factor for mesothelioma is asbestos exposure. Prolonged exposure to asbestos through a job, or during a building demolition or remodel increases your chances. Other recognized, but very rare, known causes include exposure to zeolites (minerals primarily located in Turkey), therapeutic thoratrast radiation, and chronic inflammation of the pleura. However, there have been very few reported cases of mesothelioma from causes other than asbestos.
Symptoms of Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma symptoms include but are definitely not limited to:
* shortness of breath
* chronic cough,
* chest pain
Often mesothelioma is misdiagnosed because the symptoms are common to other ailments, such as colds and flu.
Stages of Mesothelioma
Stages of mesothelioma were established by the Mesothelioma Interest Group and adopted by the American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC), and are similar to the staging system used by most other cancers. At this time, the staging system is only applied to mesothelioma around the lung, and uses Roman numerals from I to IV (1 to 4) to describe the severity of the cancer.
Each year, between 2,000 and 4,000 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma. This cancer has a very long latency stage, and most often shows up late in life and primarily in men. Unfortunately, mortality is very quick after diagnosis, typically because mesothelioma is often far advanced by the time a diagnosis is made