Richa Madaan

Richa Madaan

Mesothelioma: Causes, Symptoms, and What to Do

  Jan 16, 2024
Reviewed by Ravinder Kaur

You’re living your life, feeling fine, when suddenly, BAM! You’re hit with chest pain, trouble breathing, and maybe even weight loss for no reason. Scary, right? That’s what Mesothelioma can be like – a hidden time bomb waiting to explode years after you’ve been around something called asbestos.

Asbestos used to be everywhere – buildings, ships, even brakes! These tiny fibers sneak into your body and sometimes stay there for decades. That is why it is significant to understand everything. 

So, buckle up because we’re about to dive deep into the world of Mesothelioma. We’ll uncover the secrets of this sneaky disease, learn the warning signs to watch out for and explore the options available to fight back. 

Causes of Mesothelioma 

Causes of Mesothelioma Developed Due to Asbestos

The primary cause of Mesothelioma, a rare and aggressive form of cancer, is asbestos exposure. 

  • Occupational Exposure: Statistics from Mesothelioma Law Attorneys have shown that approximately 70% to 90% of patients who develop this type of cancer have previously been exposed to asbestos, commonly through work. This risk is most prevalent in industries where its usage was, and in some cases still is, widespread.

    Key sectors include construction, where this fibrous material was extensively used for insulation, fireproofing, and other applications due to its durable and heat-resistant properties. 

    The shipbuilding industry also figures prominently in this context, as the mineral was commonly used in ship construction, particularly for insulation purposes.

  • Secondary Exposure: Secondary vulnerability to this mineral, also known as para-occupational exposure, occurs when individuals are exposed to its fibers indirectly, usually through contact with a person who works directly with asbestos.

    A particularly poignant example is when a family member, often a spouse or a parent, handles the worker’s contaminated work clothes. 

    Activities like shaking out the clothes before washing or even laundering them can release the mineral fibers into the home environment. These fibers can then be inhaled by others, leading to the same severe health risks associated with direct exposure, including Mesothelioma.

Symptoms of Mesothelioma 

Common Symptoms of Mesothelioma

The symptoms of Mesothelioma typically don’t appear until 20 to 50 years after initial asbestos risk. These symptoms vary depending on the type of Mesothelioma, but generally include:

  • Pleural Mesothelioma (lungs): Persistent cough, chest pain, shortness of breath, and unusual lumps of tissue under the skin on the chest.
  • Peritoneal Mesothelioma (abdomen): Abdominal pain and swelling, nausea, and changes in bowel movements.
  • Pericardial Mesothelioma (heart): Chest pain, heart palpitations, and difficulty breathing.

Around 3000 people are diagnosed with Mesothelioma each year with approximately 75% of victims being male. 

Diagnosing Mesothelioma

Diagnosing Mesothelioma is complex due to its long latency period and symptoms that mimic other common illnesses. 

If the disease is suspected, the process usually begins with a review of the patient’s medical and occupational history, followed by imaging tests like X-rays, CT scans, or MRIs. A biopsy, where a tissue sample is taken for analysis, is often required for a definitive diagnosis.

Treatment Options for Mesothelioma

Treatment options for Mesothelioma are determined based on the stage of the disease, the location of the disease, the patient’s overall health, and the specific characteristics of the cancer cells. 

The primary medical care modalities include:

  • Surgery: To remove as much of the cancer as possible.
  • Chemotherapy: Uses drugs to kill infected cells or stop them from growing.
  • Radiation Therapy: Uses high-energy rays to kill diseased cells.
  • Immunotherapy: Boosts the body’s natural defenses to fight cancer.
  • Targeted Therapy: Uses drugs or other substances to identify and attack specific cancer cells without harming normal cells. 

The graph below shows that the most preferred treatment for patients of Mesothelioma is chemotherapy. 

Percentages of Mesothelioma Patients Receiving Top Treatments

What to Do if You Are Diagnosed with Mesothelioma

If you are diagnosed with Mesothelioma, it’s relevant to take immediate steps to manage your health and legal rights. 

Firstly, seek medical care from a specialist familiar with the disease and its treatment. They can offer the most up-to-date and effective healing options tailored to your condition.

Consulting a lawyer experienced in mesothelioma cases is necessary for directions to handle any legal and medical issues. If your condition is linked to asbestos exposure, primarily through work, you may be entitled to compensation. 

A specialized attorney can guide you through the legal process, including filing for worker’s compensation or a personal injury lawsuit against responsible parties. 

They can also help you navigate insurance claims and explore any potential veterans’ benefits if your exposure occurred during military service. Focus on your overall well-being. 

Join support groups for emotional support and explore palliative care options to manage symptoms and improve quality of life. Early legal and medical intervention can significantly impact your ability to manage the disease and secure necessary resources for cure and support.

Wrapping Up 

Mesothelioma is a serious disease with a significant impact on individuals and families. We hope this article has highlighted the importance of seeking specialized medical advice and considering all healthcare avenues, including emerging therapies and clinical trials. 

Remember, the journey through Mesothelioma is not only about medical treatment; it encompasses legal considerations and emotional support, which are equally relevant.