What Is Mesothelioma?Information about Mesothelioma
What Is Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that attacks the mesothelium; the thin membrane that lines the inside surface of the chest wall (where it is known as the pleura), the abdomen (where it is referred to as the peritoneum) and in very rare cases in men, the testicles. The most common form of the disease is found in the chest and lungs – known as Pleural Mesothelioma, with approximately twelve times more cases each year than the Peritoneal form of the disease.
The pleural membrane has two layers: the visceral layer which is on the inside of the lung, and the parietal layer which is on the outside, inside the chest cavity. The pleura produces a fluid that lubricates the space between the two layers allowing them to slide against each other as the lungs expand and contract as we breathe in and out. Pleural Mesothelioma can cause the pleura to thicken, causing pressure on the lung and possibly even attaching it to the inside of the chest wall. Fluid can build up between the layers making it more difficult for the lung to function and thus causing difficulty in breathing and chest pain.
In cases of Peritoneal Mesothelioma, the situation is quite similar, in that the inside of the abdomen has a visceral (inner) and parietal (outer) layer, protecting the body’s organs and helping to keep them in place. When Mesothelioma develops within the peritoneum the layers of membrane thicken and fluid can build up between them causing the abdomen to swell and the sufferer to experience pain and other debilitating symptoms.
Mesothelioma is primarily caused by exposure to asbestos, the use of which has been banned since the late 1990s but is still found in a large number of buildings such as schools, homes and hospitals. While it is undisturbed asbestos causes little danger, but when it is broken up the tiny fibres that it is made up of can escape in to the air and easily be breathed in. Once they settle in the body, either in the chest or the abdomen, they can remain there for many years before any signs of the damage are noticed. It is normal for people who have been exposed to asbestos not to notice any kind of issues for up to 30 or even 50 years, so in many cases people who present symptoms of Mesothelioma could have been exposed a very long time ago.
While treatments are available to reduce pain and slow the development of the disease, in most cases patients who contract Mesothelioma cannot be cured. This is partly to do with the aggressive nature of the cancer, but also the fact that by the time it has been diagnosed it is usually in its later stages; in most cases patients die within a year or two of diagnosis.
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Please complete our 15 second test form. A family in Scotland has been awarded damages of £250,000 in a ground-breaking legal case after it was found that their mother had died as a result of exposure to asbestos from her husband’s work clothing. William Sweeney, from...read more