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Many people may not be aware that they were exposed to the deadly asbestos fibers until they begin exhibiting mesothelioma symptoms. Unfortunately, mesothelioma has an extremely long latency period of between 20 and 50 years, which means that symptoms arise when the disease has already progressed to later stages. Though it may be difficult to determine whether or not a person has been exposed to asbestos, it is important to understand that the mineral was used in dozens of industries throughout the 20th century.
Asbestos-containing materials were used in power plants, construction sites, shipyards, vessels and much more. Because asbestos is extremely resistant to heat combined with the fact that this mineral can be made to conform to almost any shape, it has been used in a myriad of products including home insulation and flooring tiles, as well as insulation for boilers and pipes on ships to contain the heat generated by engines and other mechanical devices on vessels.
If you believe you were exposed to asbestos, even if you are not experiencing any related symptoms, seeking a medical examination is vital. The earlier people see a physician and let him know that they may have been exposed to asbestos, the more treatment options will be available to them. The longer you wait, the more the cancer will have progressed and the less chance surgery will be a viable option.
Available Treatment Options
Surgery is certainly the most successful and desirable treatment option; however, it is not always the most viable. Doctors have to take into consideration a few different factors when determining the best course of action when it comes to treatment. Age is one of the factors doctors look at, as is the overall health of the patient. Doctors will also consider the type of mesothelioma the patient has developed (there are more success stories with pleural mesothelioma than with either peritoneal mesothelioma or pericardial mesothelioma). One of the most important factors that determine whether surgery is an option or not is the stage the cancer is in. In stages one and two, the cancer is still localized in the organ and there is a possibility of removing the tumorous cells. In stages three and four, the cancer has spread beyond the organ and to other body parts.
Curative surgery is the most desirable option because it means that there is a possibility of removing and beating the cancer. Two of the most typical types of surgery include extrapleural pneumonectomy and pleurectomy/decortication. Success rates for the former are higher than the latter, though survival time is about the same for both types of surgery. Extrapleural pneumonectomy involves removing part or the entire lung in an attempt to rid the body of the cancerous cells. Pleurectomy/decortication involves removing all or part of the lung's lining and complications sometimes occur following surgery. Both of these surgeries are aggressive and help the patient recover from the cancer.
Palliative surgery, such as pleurodesis, paracentesis and thoracotomy, is meant to relieve the pain and suffering associated with mesothelioma but is not meant to cure it. Doctors will either drain the excess fluid in the organ or remove the cancerous tissue. Although survival rates for patients that undergo palliative surgery are much less, the patient sometimes feels more comfortable in his day-to-day life.
To have more treatment options, an early diagnosis is vital. If you would like to learn more about mesothelioma surgery options, fill out the form above.