Asbestos Lung Cancer Also Known As Mesothelioma
Asbestos lung cancer is medically referred to as mesothelioma, which is a form of lung cancer brought about by frequent unprotected exposure to the asbestos mineral. To date, there is no specific treatment for mesothelioma and current treatments have had poor results in clinical tests and studies.
The occurrence of asbestos lung cancer is more prevalent in male senior citizens who in their younger years worked in asbestos-related industries. In earlier years, asbestos was used extensively in various trades such as shipbuilding, construction, mining and the automotive industry. At the same time, there are thousands of products that contain asbestos such as floor tiles, textile products and paper products.
But due to the risk posed by exposure to asbestos, the United States has banned the use of the asbestos mineral in the production of various materials. The risk of contracting asbestos lung cancer depends on the extent of exposure and the kind of industry to which the individual works in. In some cases, only a small number of workers may develop mesothelioma.
Even finished products wherein asbestos has been bonded into like pipes, walls and tiles pose no risk to people provided that these are not smashed up or damaged by means of drilling or sawing. Once the material has been disturbed it releases asbestos fibers into the air that can easily be inhaled or swallowed by people. Asbestos fibers attack the respiratory tract and sometimes the digestive tract of the body that in time will develop into asbestos lung cancer.
Types of Mesothelioma
There are several types of mesothelioma such as pleural mesothelioma, peritoneal mesothelioma and pericardial mesothelioma. Pleural mesothelioma is the most common kind of asbestos lung cancer that affects the lining of the lungs.
An individual diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma may experience difficulty in swallowing and breathing, fever, coughing, unexplained weight loss and shortness of breath.
Peritoneal mesothelioma affects the abdominal area of the body. Symptoms of this type of mesothelioma include bowel obstruction, loss of appetite, vomiting and nausea as well as fever and pain in the stomach area.
The least common type of mesothelioma is pericardial mesothelioma that can affect the heart and the surrounding tissues. People diagnosed with this type of mesothelioma are likely to experience incessant coughing, difficulty breathing and palpitations.
Symptoms and Treatments for Asbestos Lung Cancer
Symptoms relating to mesothelioma are fairly common and can sometimes be misdiagnosed for other types of diseases. Patients that have previously lived or worked in conditions that exposed them to asbestos should immediately disclose this to the attending physician. In this way the possibility of asbestos lung cancer can be taken into consideration and early detection can lead to effective treatment.
Unfortunately medical tests such as chest x-rays are unable to detect the presence of asbestos fibers in the lungs. However, it may be able to spot the early signs of asbestos-related lung disease. A CAT scan or lung scan can also be used to examine changes in the lungs that may be attributed to asbestos lung cancer.
The existing medical remedies for mesothelioma are chemotherapy, radiation therapy, palliative therapy and surgery. However various clinical trials are being conducted by different organizations including the National Institute of Cancer to find effective treatments for asbestos lung cancer in later stages of the disease.