Malignant Mesothelioma

Malignant mesothelioma is a form of cancer that creates tumors in the lining of one's abdomen, heart or lungs. It is caused by exposure to asbestos, a fire-resistant material that was once used in many manufacturing industries. With malignant mesothelioma, one's average survival time runs from four to 18 months after diagnosis, which is due to the fact that symptoms of the disease do not arise until decades after asbestos exposure. It is also hard for medical practitioners to distinguish between malignant mesothelioma and other similar diseases, as mesothelioma shares symptoms with many other conditions.

Who is at Risk for Developing Malignant Mesothelioma

When it comes to malignant mesothelioma, those who have accumulated long-term asbestos exposure are at the highest risk of developing the condition. Asbestos was once used in a variety of industries, and could be found in products such as automotive brake materials, ceiling vinyl and cement. Workers in locations such as aluminum plants, steel mills, construction sites, shipyards and power plants are among those who have developed malignant mesothelioma later in life.

As it can take between 20 and 50 years for malignant mesothelioma symptoms to manifest, the average age of a mesothelioma diagnosis is 60 years old. Men are more likely to develop the disease than women, as they are more likely to have sustained long-term asbestos exposure.

Forms of Malignant Mesothelioma

There are three known forms of malignant mesothelioma. These include peritoneal mesothelioma, pericardial mesothelioma and pleural mesothelioma.

Peritoneal mesothelioma is located in one's peritoneum, which is the thin layer of cells that surrounds the abdominal cavity. As the disease causes fluid to build up between these layers, symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma will begin to manifest.

Pericardial mesothelioma is the most deadly form of malignant mesothelioma. This form of mesothelioma actually attacks the lining of one's heart, which means that surgery is highly risky even if the disease is diagnosed early.

Pleural mesothelioma is located in one's lungs. The disease affects the lining and cells of these organs, which causes one's lung capacity to decrease as fluid builds up.

Symptoms of Malignant Mesothelioma

The three known forms of malignant mesothelioma share a number of symptoms with each other and other disorders. For this reason, it is recommended that those whose line of work involved frequent asbestos exposure explain this fact to their physician immediately upon displaying symptoms.

Symptoms of malignant mesothelioma include night sweats, sudden and drastic weight loss, lumps forming under the skin of the chest, fevers, a persistent cough that brings up blood, constant chest pain, shortness of breath, an irregular heartbeat, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, a swollen abdomen, anemia and nausea.

Malignant Mesothelioma Treatments

While malignant mesothelioma is not typically diagnosed in time to save the life of a patient, there have been rare cases when the condition has been diagnosed early. When this happens, potentially curative surgery may be an option, provided that one has not been diagnosed with pericardial mesothelioma. Otherwise, radiation and chemotherapy may be used to relieve one's symptoms and suffering.

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