Asbestos and Mesothelioma: A Dangerous Link
Lung cancer is a serious ailment with severe consequences if it's not dealt with in a timely manner. Many patients have certain types of cancer, including mesothelioma. Although it's a rare form of lung cancer, mesothelioma is still a disease that's seeing greater numbers over time. At the heart of mesothelioma development is a person's exposure to asbestos. Learn how asbestos and mesothelioma are linked by today's researchers and how to deal with the subsequent diagnosis.
The term "lung cancer" is a widespread description for several types of diseases. Mesothelioma falls under this category because it's technically a cancer of the pleural lining in the lungs. According to the American Cancer Society, it can also affect the abdomen through peritoneal mesothelioma. Although patients may have other risk factors, the main culprit for this cancer is exposure to asbestos.
Asbestos Use Within the Industrial World
Asbestos used to be the hero of the industrial world because this substance was inexpensive to purchase and use within factories, airplanes and ships. It insulated walls and wiring without being a fire hazard. Asbestos is made of tiny fibers that create great matrices for building construction. However, breaking apart these fibers meant that they'd fly into the air. People in close proximity to the fibers would breathe them in where they'd remain for many years afterward.
The Latency Period
It wasn't until 1989 that new uses of asbestos were entirely banned by the United States government, reports the National Cancer Institute. The damage was done, however, because thousands of workers had already been exposed to asbestos. Because the fibers remained in the lungs for several decades, they had a chance to mutate and damage cells that eventually turned into cancerous growths. This long, latency period makes mesothelioma an aggressive type of cancer because it's not noticed over several years.
Spreading Asbestos to Loved Ones
Another dangerous link resides between asbestos and mesothelioma when it comes to spreading it. Workers who came home after work each night and walked into the home would often track asbestos into the carpets. Family members, such as children, were now exposed to asbestos. Although these cases are rare, some children of industrial workers are now dealing with mesothelioma themselves.
Symptoms and Visiting the Doctor
Symptoms of this type of cancer are often marked by bloody mucus and shortness of breath. If a person believes that there's a serious problem, he or she must visit the doctor. Several tests can be completed so that a determination can be made about the possible disease. Finding the disease early on gives the patient a chance to fight it with as much strength as possible.
It's true that asbestos is a naturally occurring fiber, but it's not normally found in such high concentrations as industrial buildings. Be aware of any exposure to asbestos by thinking about a past career or buildings worked in over the years. Patients can visit the doctor as a preventive measure in order to verify if mesothelioma is a concern. Although there's no cure for this ailment, patients can fight lung cancer off if it's diagnosed early on in its development.