Malignant mesothelioma is cancer that begins in cells lining most organs in the body, especially the chest, abdomen and heart. Wall formed by these cells is called mesothelium. The mesothelium forms a protective sac that surrounds the internal organs of the body. It consists of two layers: a layer of cells surrounding the organ and the other forming a sac around it. These cells secrete a fluid that allows the organs to move effortlessly and harmlessly in the space defined by the mesothelium.
Thus, moving organs such as the heart and lungs can work normally only with a functioning mesothelium. Mesothelioma is a disease in which cells of the mesothelium become abnormal and multiply uncontrollably, invade the surrounding tissue affecting the same organs as they are supposed to protect. In most cases of mesothelioma, the lungs are the organs that are affected. The mesothelium of the lungs is known as the pleura. Pleural mesothelioma is the most commonly diagnosed form of the disease.
Risk factors and risk groups
Mesothelioma is associated with asbestos. Approximately 70-80% of all cases of mesothelioma have a history of asbestos exposure. Asbestos is a group of minerals that has been widely used in industrial products, such as cement, trim brakes, flooring, textiles, and insulation. The first cases of mesothelioma occurred in the 1900s, in Britain, where asbestos factories workers began struggling with a high level of lung diseases. The disease was then called asbestosis. Is that much later, in 1959, that the link between asbestos and lung cancer has been done.
Mesothelioma can also occur as a result of secondary asbestos exposure. A chance of developing cancer in families and others in contact with asbestos workers is greater due to exposure to dust from clothing and hair of the worker. People living in old buildings (before the prohibition of asbestos in construction materials) are also at risk. Occupations which are more associated with mesothelioma include: construction industry workers, electricians, plumbers, workers of the shipyards, etc. textile workers.
Incidence of mesothelioma
Most countries have now to specify the level of asbestos can be safely present in the work environment. Since the risk of asbestos-related diseases increased heavy and prolonged exposure to asbestos, good working environment led to a reduction in cases of mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is a relatively rare disease. only 2000 cases occur each year in the United States.
Living with the disease
Like many other cancers, there is very little can be done where the diagnosis was not filed in the early stages of the disease. Unfortunately, most cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed in its final stages. There is no cure for the disease. In some cases, the tumors can be removed by surgery, in the hope that it has already spread to other parts of the body. Surgery may be directed to remove the tumor or entire lung. Chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments are palliative (i.e. to reduce the severity of symptoms rather than treating the disease).
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