Mesothelioma Types

Even though use of the cancer-causing mineral asbestos has been basically outlawed in the United States for decades, the effects of this dangerous material are still with us today. Human exposure to asbestos, which was quite common during the first two-thirds of the 20th century, is now known to be the cause of several types of debilitating cancers, including asbestosis and mesothelioma. Mesothelioma, which presents itself in four distinct forms, attacks the protective lining (mesothelium) of specific organs and is classified by which organ of the body it initially affects. They include:

  • Pleural Mesothelioma, which affects the lungs and is the most common form found, accounting for approximately 70-80% of diagnosed cases.
  • Peritoneal Mesothelioma, which affects the abdomen and accounts for 10-20% of diagnosed cases.
  • Pericardial Mesothelioma, affecting the heart, is rare, accounting for less than 10% of cases.
  • Testicular Mesothelioma, which is the rarest form, affects the testicles and is found in fewer than 1% of diagnosed cases.
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Mesothelioma is also classified into four stages, I-IV, depending on what stage of development the disease is diagnosed. While no cure is currently known, those diagnosed in Stage I have the best chance of slowing down the disease's progression through a variety of treatment options including chemotherapy, radiation therapy and various surgeries to remove the tumor or infected organ parts. Unfortunately, Stage I diagnoses are rare. The reasons for this are because mesothelioma has a very long incubation period, sometimes 30-50 years, before symptoms are exhibited and proper diagnosis is made. By this time, the disease has often progressed to Stages III or IV, at which point viable treatment options are few and the disease has spread to other organs besides the one initially affected. Another reason diagnoses are often not made until later stages is because symptoms for mesothelioma are similar to those of other, less serious conditions. These symptoms include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Non-productive cough
  • Painful swallowing
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea and constipation

Asbestos was commonly used in many manufacturing processes, especially from the 1940s through the 1960s. Because of the insulating and fire-resistive properties displayed by the mineral, it was routinely used in building construction, shipbuilding and a wide variety of other processes including the manufacture of automotive products, appliances and fire-resistant clothing. Those actively employed in the mining of asbestos or manufacturing processes in which asbestos was utilized are most at risk for developing asbestos-related cancer, although even incidental exposure such as bumping up against something that has been insulated with an asbestos-containing material can be enough to release the deadly fibers into air, where they may be breathed into the lungs or ingested into the mouth. Anyone living in a home or working in an office built during the middle part of the 20th century is potentially at risk of asbestos exposure. Anyone who served in the military during these years may also be at risk, as the military routinely used asbestos as an insulating and fireproofing material of choice.

Persons displaying symptoms common to mesothelioma suspecting potential asbestosis exposure at any point in their lives should consider being tested by a specialist. Early detection is critical. Filling out our form above will provide additional information to assist you or your loved one in obtaining a proper determination.

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