Mesothelioma asbestos is a form of malignant lung cancer directly linked to exposure to asbestos. Also known as asbestosis or pneumoconiosis, the condition was caused by inhalation of toxic asbestos fibers that were used in construction until the ban of asbestos in the mid 1980’s.
Asbestos is a naturally occurring silicate mineral with long, thin fibrous crystals. Asbestos gets its name from a Greek adjective meaning inextinguishable. Due to the soft and pliant nature of asbestos and also because of its ability to withstand heat the Greeks called asbestos the miracle mineral. The construction industry used asbestos for many years for the same reasons.
Asbestos became increasingly popular among manufacturers and builders in the late 19th century because of its resistance to heat, electricity, its sound absorption and strength. When asbestos is used for its resistance to fire or heat, the fibers are often mixed with cement or woven into fabric or mats, and used in the insulation of older buildings.
Asbestos was used on electric oven and hotplate wiring for its electrical insulation at elevated temperature, and in buildings for its flame-retardant and insulating properties, flexibility, and resistance to chemicals. It was during the installation or removal of the asbestos insulation that many of the hazards of mesothelioma were encountered, especially by those in the insulation or demolition business.
For most individuals, especially those born in the last 40 years, the mention of asbestos conjures up thoughts of a dangerous substance that’s caused illness and deaths from mesothelioma asbestos around the world, which is an accurate description.
Many individuals think that asbestos is a hazardous man-made substance, conjured up in factories around the world for commercial use, but in fact, asbestos is a naturally-occurring mineral that can be found in hundreds of countries on just about every continent. Asbestos is still mined in several countries, including Canada and Russia. Other countries have outlawed the mining of asbestos, because of its high probability of causing mesothelioma and other lung diseases.
Approximately 3,000 different types of commercial products include asbestos; the mineral is not harmful, as long as it’s intact. However, when the asbestos in these products is damaged and the fibers become airborne, inhalation dangers that cause mesothelioma asbestos are increased. Many of the mesothelioma asbestos deaths were caused from the exposure during construction demolitions and other processes, where the asbestos was not left intact and the toxins were inhaled in heavy doses of exposure.
“Friable” asbestos is dry and can be easily crumbled with the hand is the primary cause of mesothelioma cases. This type of asbestos is more likely to release fibers into the air. Spray-applied asbestos fireproofing was used in millions of buildings throughout the world and is this type of asbestos. Even non-friable asbestos can also release airborne fibers when sanded, chopped, hammered, or cut. When demolishing a building that contains asbestos, proper removal and disposal is crucial to avoid exposure or inhalation that could put an individual at risk of mesothelioma asbestosis and is governed in the United States.
Inhaled asbestos fibers remain in the body and cannot be expelled. Because of this, the fibers can easily penetrate body tissues, airways and lung tissue. The more you’re exposed, the more likely you might develop an asbestos-related disease, such as mesothelioma. Most people exposed to asbestos on a very casual basis probably will not develop such a disease, however, care should be taken once you are aware of asbestos in the construction of your home or office that needs to be removed.
Once the fibers are lodged in the body, they cause inflammation which may eventually result in the formation of cancerous tumors, particularly on the mesothelium-the lining of the lungs. Asbestos fibers can affect other areas such as the peritoneum – the lining of the abdomen – and the pericardium – the lining around the heart. There are various types of mesothelioma treatment options for each type.
While some recent exceptions were found in workers at the World Trade Center disaster, asbestos-related diseases, such as pleural mesothelioma, usually take decades to surface. Current cases of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases involve many individuals who were employed in shipyards or performing demolition jobs that exposed them to asbestos fibers on a daily basis. Shipyard workers are among those most affected by aggressive asbestos cancer or mesothelioma asbestos.
There are several types of treatment available for patients that have mesothelioma, but the most commonly used are surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Experimental treatments are becoming more widely used such as photodynamic, gene and immunotherapy.
Most treatment options consist of a combination of therapies, usually surgically removing as much of the cancer as possible and then administering chemotherapy or radiotherapy to remove any leftover cancer cells.
Mesothelioma asbestos is a highly aggressive cancer and the disease is resistant to many treatment options.
Symptoms can include:
• Shortness of breath, wheezing, or hoarseness.
• A persistent cough that gets worse over time.
• Blood in the sputum (fluid) coughed up from the lungs.
• Pain or tightening in the chest.
• Difficulty swallowing.
• Swelling of the neck or face.
• Loss of appetite.
• Weight loss.
• Fatigue or anemia.
You should consult your doctor if you have been exposed to asbestos, and have any of these symptoms. Chest x-rays are the most common way to detect mesothelioma asbestos or other asbestos related diseases, however, the asbestos fibers cannot be detected, only the early signs of lung cancer.
Workers dealing with asbestos need to follow the protective established requirements that are set out by OSHA, (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), especially those that work in maritime, construction, manufacturing, mechanics and service workplaces that may have asbestos exposure risks.