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Mesothelioma Facts

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Overview of Mesotheilioma
Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that affects the membranes that surround the body’s organs called the mesothelium. Pleural Mesothelioma affects the membranes that surround the pleura or lungs. This type of Mesothelioma is unrelated to smoking as it is caused by exposure to asbestos fibers and dust. In the United States, there are approximately 3000 cases reported per year.

Asbestos and Mesothelioma
Asbestos is a mineral that has long fibers. When this mineral is broken, the fibers are released into the air where they can be easily inhaled or settle onto surfaces such as skin or clothing.
It is the inhalation or ingestion of the asbestos fibers that causes people to be at risk for developing Mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma Risk Factors 
The majority of the cases of malignant Mesothelioma are directly related to working with or around asbestos. Industries where asbestos was used include shipbuilding, manufacturing and construction. However, occupational hazards are not the only way to be exposed to asbestos. Often family members of those working with asbestos are exposed to asbestos by inhaling the fibers and dust present on their family member’s clothes, skin and hair. Regardless of method of exposure, these minute fibers become lodged in the linings of the lungs, throat, stomach and other organs and sit for as much as twenty to forty years before symptoms begin. During this time the cells become damaged causing inflammation and scarring. Eventually cancer develops in the linings of the body’s s organs or mesothelium.
  
Classifications of Mesothelioma 
Mesothelioma is classified according to where in the body the cancer begins.
 Pleural Mesothelioma is cancer of the lining of the lung or pleura. It is the most common type of Mesothelioma. The normal lung has a small amount of fluid between the chest wall and the lung tissue. However, one of the symptoms of pleural Mesothelioma is a pleural effusion where an abnormal amount of fluid builds up and causing the lung not to expand and contract correctly. This causes shortness of breath, coughing and pain.
 Pericardial Mesothelioma is cancer of the lining of the pericardium or lining that surrounds the heart. The type of Mesothelioma is the rarest, occurring in only 1% of the reported cases. Its symptoms, similar to pleural Mesothelioma, are chest pain and difficulty breathing, coughing and heart irregularities such as palpitations.
 Peritoneal Mesothelioma is cancer of the mesothelium or the lining of the abdomen. Symptoms of this type of Mesothelioma include a painful and swollen abdomen, fever, nausea, vomiting and problems with the bowels and bladder. Peritoneal Mesothelioma is caused by the ingestion of asbestos fibers and account for approximately 10% of the cases.

The Mesothelioma Diagnosis
A diagnosis of Mesothelioma can be difficult because its symptoms are similar to may other lung diseases such as lung cancer. Your physician needs to use multiple methods in order to diagnose Mesothelioma such as; medical history, complete physical examination and blood tests. Sometimes, the disease presents with shortness of breath and coughing. Your physician may need x-rays to determine if fluid has collected around the lung and then take measures to drain that fluid. He or she may also looking for signs of lung damage such as scarring of the pleura. Other diagnostic measures may include a biopsy to obtain tissue for examination.

Mesothelioma Treatment Available
Multiple treatments are available for people with Mesothelioma. However, like most cancers, the treatment depends on factors such as the stage of the disease, type of Mesothelioma and the patient’s general health. Since Mesothelioma has no known cure, the goal of treatment is to extend and increase the quality of life. The following treatments may be used:
 Chemotherapy
 Radiation Therapy
 Pleurodesis- A procedure to ease the patient’s breathing involving the insertion of an absorptive powder into the cavity surrounding the heart to absorb the excess fluid.
 Pleurectomy- A procedure to remove a portion or all of the lung.
 Phototherapy- A procedure where specially stained cancer cells are destroyed with a low-intensity laser.
 Peritoneal surgery- Surgery to remove cancerous tumors of the peritoneum or abdomen.

Mesothelioma Prognosis
Although there are new treatments and on-going research, the current prognosis for people with Mesothelioma is poor. You should find a physician that specializes in the treatment of asbestos-related diseases. Treatments are expensive and if there is a history of exposure to asbestos, many insurance companies will not pay for your treatments. The Mulligan Law Firm wants to help you and your family determine whether you are eligible for compensation for your asbestos exposure.

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