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Mesothelioma Asbestos Cancer is Commonly Found in the Lungs
Mesothelioma asbestos cancer is rare and almost exclusively originating from exposure to asbestos. Normally, what is affected is the thin, protective membrane surrounding the lungs, heart or abdominal cavity. A diagnosis of mesothelioma by doctors happens with an estimated 3,000 cases of mesothelioma a year in the United States. Most are related to a job assignment and consequently, exposure to asbestos. A diagnosis of mesothelioma can be devastating, but there are effective treatments proven to ease symptoms and improve your prognosis.
Asbestos is classified as a known human carcinogen by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the EPA, and the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Although asbestos use declined dramatically in recent decades in this country, the incidence of mesothelioma asbestos remains steady because of exposure from 20-50 years ago. Obvious mesothelioma symptoms do not present until an oncologist can make a definitive diagnosis. Unfortunately, no cure exists for the disease and the prognosis is typically poor. With significant progress being made over the last few years, new treatments have been developed with alternative therapies.
Believe it or not, up until the 1980s, asbestos was in many homes and businesses and also used in thousands of products. Work-related exposure is the most common culprit but it also can occur at a home, office, in industrial settings, in public buildings and even in urban areas that are generally considered environmentally friendly because it occurs naturally.
Because there are so many materials previously manufactured with asbestos, there are a number of ways a person could have experienced exposure, including:
- Living near an asbestos mine in a residential area
- Construction or automotive industry employment
- Serving on military facilities or ships where asbestos was used in construction
- Renovation of homes containing asbestos
- Working at an asbestos mine or processing plant
It generally takes repeated, heavy exposure to be at risk for mesothelioma asbestos cancer.
How Mesothelioma Asbestos Develops
Mesothelioma cancer develops after exposure to asbestos. Most cases are found after long-term exposure has put someone at risk because of the toxic substance. Unfortunately, short-term and even one-time exposures are known to cause mesothelioma cancer.
Microscopic asbestos fibers can be inhaled or swallowed. Our bodies have difficulty destroying or ridding themselves of these fibers. As decades pass, inflammation occurs that results from biological changes leaving scarring and genetic damage. The lining of the lungs, called the pleura, is most vulnerable to these fibers as they become trapped in the abdominal cavity (peritoneum). Once these fibers cause biological damage, decades of silent damage occurs leading to malignant mesothelioma.