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Demystifying Mesothelioma Mesothelioma is diagnosed when there is cancer found in the mesothelium; the mesothelium is the defensive covering that envelops most of the body’s major organs. The mesothelium has one layer that first holds the organs and another layer that forms the sac around it. The mesothelium takes on a different name for each organ that it covers. The mesothelial tissue that covers the chest cavity and the lungs is called the pleura. The peritoneum and the pericardium are the tissues that protect most of the organs in the abdominal cavity and protect the heart, respectively. The mesothelium secretes a liquid that acts as lubrication for the organs inside of it, making it possible for their movements to be without difficulty. This liquid lets the lungs expand to breathe and the heart palpitate freely without harmful friction. Mesothelioma, identical to other cancers, happens when the cells are abnormal and multiply. An overproduction of the lubricating fluid mentioned above occurs to those with mesothelioma. This overproduction of fluid coats the organs in a heavy layer of tumor tissue. Advanced cases of mesothelioma can result in cells growing and attacking different organs until the cancer spreads to other parts of the body.
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The highest percentage of cases of mesothelioma are those with cancer in the tissue surrounding the lungs. Mesothelioma can also occur around the heart (pericardial mesothelioma) or around the abdominal cavity (peritoneal mesothelioma).
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The cancer is hard to diagnose due to the fact that its symptoms are similar to many other illnesses. There are research initiatives searching for treatments of mesothelioma, as the current options have not reached the desired effectiveness. Mesothelioma’s cause is the inhalation or ingestion of asbestos fibers. Scarring of the mesothelial tissue from the rough fibers of the asbestos leads to asbestosis or pleural plaques. Mesothelioma is also caused by this scarring. It is common for the symptoms of mesothelioma to remain dormant for 20 to 50 years post-exposure. This time is also known as a latency period. As a result of this latency period, those diagnosed are very often those who had contact with asbestos 20 to 50 years prior. During that time, a lot of workers went without protection into areas where there was heavy dust and asbestos fibers. However, it was not uncommon for the companies employing these workers to know about the presence of asbestos is these areas as well as the extremely harmful effects that it could have in the workers. Many tradesmen are among those who could have been exposed to asbestos on a daily basis, including but not limited to: ship workers, ship builders, bricklayers, electricians, and insulators. The families of these workers are also at risk because the asbestos fibers attach themselves to clothes, skin, and hair. Early detection and correct treatment lead to much better numbers than cases of advanced mesothelioma. Remember that any information or statistics on survival rates should only be used as a general reference, not as an individual diagnosis. Patients should have consultations with their doctors about any specific information about their case. Millions of individuals have regrettably been exposed to asbestos through the years. Asbestos exposure in the workplace is just now starting to show its monstrous effects. The quickest diagnosis possible is imperative to effectively treat this cancer. If you think it is possible that you were exposed to asbestos, I urge you to go see your doctor.