Mesothelioma is a relatively rare form of cancer with approximately 2,000 to 3,000 new cases diagnosed in America annually. Mesothelioma is directly related to asbestos exposure. Information concerning the disease was limited for a long time due to the difficulties associated with diagnosis. Mesothelioma symptoms lie dormant for several years, even decades. The American Cancer Society reports the latency period for mesothelioma as being between 20 and 50 years following initial exposure. Symptoms are also likely to mimic those of other cancers and illnesses, further complicating the diagnostic process.
Asbestos and Mesothelioma
In the 1970s, physicians noted more patients complaining of chest pains and breathing difficulties. Along with these findings, physicians noted an increase in tests revealing cancerous tissue in the mesothelium, a tissue found throughout the body surrounding internal organs such as the lungs, heart, and abdomen. As cases of this unusual cancer increased, research began in earnest.
FREE Mesothelioma Information
Scientists and doctors searched for a common factor, and their answer was asbestos, a building construction material used heavily throughout the twentieth century. All mesothelioma victims either worked with asbestos or were related to an exposed individual. Soon the cancer was named mesothelioma, because of its location in the body. Physicians confirmed it was a slow-growing but fatal cancer caused by inhaling asbestos fibers. The typical mesothelioma patient was already in an advanced stage of the disease when diagnosis occurred.
For millions who worked in the many industries that used asbestos, including construction and the Armed Forces, as well as the automotive industry and power and chemical plants; the damage was done. If caught early, some mesothelioma patients benefit from surgical procedures to remove existing tumors. Chemotherapy and radiation are sometimes used to reduce tumors, increase longevity, lessen symptoms and improve quality of life. Some patients find holistic techniques, such as massage or meditation, to be of benefit. However, there currently is no cure for mesothelioma.
Currently, research to find a cure or better treatment options for mesothelioma is ongoing. Several experts in the field of mesothelioma have worked on a multimodal approach that utilizes combinations of various forms of traditional treatments in order to get the best possible results. These multimodal approaches are also being considered with new-age chemotherapy agents such as cisplatin and Alimta. For many patients with mesothelioma, clinical trials are a positive option, giving them access to newer drugs and treatments.
As with most cancers, diagnosis in the earlier stages of the disease provides the patient with the strongest possible treatment options, and a more favorable prognosis. Clearly, combating mesothelioma is complex, although mesothelioma information has improved as medical scientists search for a cure.