Updated: Sep 6
What is mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that affects mesothelium, a tissue protecting the internal organs, specifically around the lungs and heart. The different types of mesothelioma affect different parts of the body (such as the lining of the lungs, around the abdominal cavity, around the heart, etc.) but they all progress rapidly and with no known cure.
What causes it?
The primary cause of mesothelioma is repeated exposure to asbestos. Asbestos is a silicate mineral that is abundant, durable, and resistant to heat, which makes it a stellar material in talc and other construction materials. It is not banned in the US, which makes it common in everyday surroundings. Some common examples of asbestos containing products include floor tiles, cement, and air ducts in homes and schools. Asbestos has even been recently found in children’s talc containing products, such as baby powder and children’s makeup. Asbestos causes mesothelioma when its fibers get stuck in tissue that lines and protects vital organs (lungs, heart, etc.) These stuck fibers then begin to damage DNA and change normal cells to cancerous cells, leading to the formation of mesothelioma tumors.
What symptoms should you look for?
Symptoms can vary regarding what type of mesothelioma it is, and what parts of the body it affects. For example, pleural mesothelioma affects the lining of the lungs and is usually caused by inhaling asbestos. Doctors can diagnose this type of mesothelioma by looking for symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, and chest pain. Another example is peritoneal mesothelioma, which develops in the lining of the abdomen. Some symptoms that can occur include abdominal pain, swelling, bloating, and unintended weight loss. Yet another type is pericardial mesothelioma, that starts forming in the lining of the heart. This is an even rarer type of cancer, but it can show itself in the form of heart palpitations or murmurs. I’ll stop here, but as you can see each type of cancer has very distinct symptoms, making its diagnosis as clear as possible.
What are some preventative measures?
The best way to prevent mesothelioma is to avoid exposure to asbestos and its products. Construction materials containing asbestos have been in homes, offices, and factories since the 20th century, and are even more common in workplaces such as shipyards, power/chemical plants, and auto mechanic shops. If you work in an industry with frequent exposure to asbestos, it’s important that you follow government regulations (in the US, it’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration guidelines) on how to handle and store these dangerous materials. Also, if you live in a home that was constructed prior to 1980, it’s important you check with a professional before starting renovation work. Regular medical tests as well as self-symptom checking should be first priority if you know you may have had exposure to asbestos. And, remember, not smoking and eating a well-rounded diet with plenty of vegetables can help your body naturally fend off diseases.
Why do you need a good support group?
If you’re ever diagnosed with such a rare disease as mesothelioma (knock on wood), it is normal to feel scared, anxious, and overwhelmed at first. Building a strong support system will help create a good mental health which can boost your emotional wellbeing and lower your stress levels. It can increase mood, and even lower fatigue and pain. It’s also important for caregivers and family members to step away from the stress of a health condition and focus on the things they like doing to relax. Emotional support is a big part of having a support system to lean on. This can include professional help from a mental health counselor or having someone to confide in. A lot of organizations, such as the American Cancer Society, provide emotional support for patients and their family, while places of worship can provide spiritual support if that’s preferred. Financial burdens are also unfortunately common when it comes to treatment for cancer, with all the long travels for the best care, which is also quite expensive. Luckily, there are many organizations and government grants that can help cover this cost.
What are clinical trials?
Clinical trials test new or experimental treatments on patients before they become widely available to the public. Although they are usually tested on animals to ensure they are not harmful, researchers use these to evaluate safety and effectiveness. There are different types of trials including those for prevention, screening, and treatment. While the latter is more directly invasive with its use of medication, prevention and screening are just as important for researchers to know how to improve their current diagnostic tests.
How will patients and/or families feel fulfilled?
It is very scary for patients to blindly take medication when they are unsure of the outcome, and whether it’ll even help. It offers access to new treatment options, especially when the standard treatment options have been exhausted. And also, regardless of whether it directly helps your health, survivors have said that it is rewarding for them to know they are helping future patients with their treatment options.
Who is https://www.asbestos.com?
This blog is special to me as I was asked by them to link their information in my blog to give awareness about Mesothelioma and cancer clinical trials to my blog users. Instead of adding the sources in my previous posts, I thought of posting this separate blog to bring awaresness to many people about this type of cancer solely from the site, https://www.asbestos.com.
The Mesothelioma Center at Asbestos.com is the nation's most trusted mesothelioma resource and their core purpose is advocacy, awareness and connecting people to the best mesothelioma resources. They are an organization of caregivers, survivors, lawyers, and researchers with a goal to bring their stories and information to patients with mesothelioma in hopes of educating and encouraging patients + their loved ones. It would be so helpful for them if you took a look at their website – some specific resources are linked below!
Glossary (in order of appearance):
Mesothelioma - a rare form of cancer that affects a tissue protecting the internal organs
Pleural - affecting the lining of the lungs
Peritoneal - affecting the lining of the abdomen
Pericardial - affecting the lining of the heart
Asbestos - a silicate material that is durable, making it a key ingredient in construction products.
Clinical Trials - tests of new treatments before they are available to the public
Support - https://www.asbestos.com/support/
Clinical Trials - https://www.asbestos.com/treatment/clinical-trials/
General Info - https://www.asbestos.com/mesothelioma/
Prevention - https://www.asbestos.com/mesothelioma/prevention/