Mesothelioma is a form of cancer that affects the mesothelial cells of the body. These are the cells that make up the outer lining for the body”s major organs, such as the heart, lungs and stomach. These linings are referred to as the mesothelium and this is how the cancer got its name.
The pleura is the tissue that covers and lines the lungs. These are referred to by the medical community as pleural membranes. The pleura are fibrous membranes and the space between them is the pleural space. The pleural protect the lungs by producing a lubricant that fills the pleural space. This lubricant also allows the lungs to move easily within the chest cavity as we inhale and exhale.
Pleural mesothelioma is the most common type of the disease. Since the lungs are so close to the heart, it is almost always affected. The pericardium is the lining found on the outside of the heart and allows it to move freely within the heart cavity.
The peritoneum is the tissue lining the abdomen. Its job is to protect the abdomen”s contents. It produces a fluid that acts as a lubricant so organs within the abdomen may move freely. Peritoneal mesothelioma is cancer of the tissue that lines the abdominal cavity. This form of mesothelioma is more rare than pleural mesothelioma.
Causes of Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma is caused by unprotected exposure to asbestos and affects those who were put at risk for the last 50 years.
Who Gets Mesothelioma
The disease is most common in males who are between the ages of 60 and 70 years old. These men were constantly exposed to asbestos dust and fiber, which caused the mutation of the mesothelioma cells. Mesothelioma takes years to develop, which means early diagnosis is almost impossible.
Others at risk for mesothelioma are those who lived in the same household with someone who was constantly exposed to asbestos. Men carried asbestos dust and fibers into their homes on clothing. It was then breathed in by family members. This put them at risk of contacting mesothelioma and other diseases related to asbestos years after the fact.
The success of treatment for mesothelioma isn”t high. The final stages of the disease are fatal. The earlier mesothelioma is diagnosed, the better the prognosis.
If you or a member of your immediate family has ever been constantly exposed to asbestos in the workplace, be sure to contact your health care professional to find out exactly what your options are. You may be tested for the disease and get a clear bill of health.
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