A thin layer of tissue, known as the mesothelium, covers the internal organs of the human body. Mesothelioma is a kind of cancer that affects this tissue. Malignant mesothelioma is an aggressive form of cancer. It most commonly affects the tissue surrounding the lungs. While treatments are available, there is no cure.
Causes And Risk Factors For Mesothelioma
Exposure to asbestos is the most common cause of mesothelioma. In fact, 8 in 10 people with mesothelioma have been exposed to asbestos fibers. These fibers cause inflammation and scarring to protective tissues in the body when breathed or swallowed. The DNA in these tissues can become damaged, resulting in unrestrained cell growth leading to cancer.
Preventing Malignant Mesothelioma
Limiting exposure to asbestos is the best way to reduce the risk of developing mesothelioma. This may be a difficult task, as thousands of products manufactured during the 20th century contained high amounts of asbestos. Buildings constructed prior to 1980 are at higher risk for containing asbestos products.
OSHA established regulations for workplace exposure to asbestos in the 1970s. They require that workplaces, especially those involved in industry, monitor asbestos levels in the air and effectively warn workers about hazards they face exposure to. OSHA also requires that workers train properly and receive respiratory protection when needed. It’s important for workers to use their own initiative and contact OSHA when they feel work conditions are unsafe.
The highest risk of exposure to asbestos in the home is while performing renovations or demolition in buildings built before 1980. These activities can release asbestos dust into the air, particularly if the materials are brittle and not properly concealed. Some high-risk items can include:
- Roofing materials
- Drywall compounds
- Popcorn ceilings
Homeowners should never attempt to remove asbestos on their own. Contact an abatement specialist instead.
What Happens After Diagnosis
While they cannot cure mesothelioma, doctors can try to help control symptoms of cancer. They usually diagnose it at a later stage when surgery cannot remove all the cancerous tissue. Surgery can help minimize the damaged area and reduce symptoms. Other treatments can include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and targeted therapy using drugs.
A cancer diagnosis can be difficult to cope with alone, so it is important for those suffering with mesothelioma to reach out for help from their family, friends, and trusted professionals. Seeking support groups with others experiencing the same hardships can be beneficial. Taking steps to plan ahead, such as establishing an advanced directive, can also help ease some mental burden.
Finally, those who were exposed to asbestos in the workplace have legal rights if the exposure was because of negligence. Cancer treatment can be very expensive. Establishing liability for exposure and receiving a settlement in court could result in compensation for some individuals. Those interested in seeking legal action can click here for an overview of the process by a reputable law firm.