Each year, 3,000 Americans are diagnosed with mesothelioma. This deadly cancer is largely a result of coming in contact with asbestos.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with this deadly disease, learning about the symptoms of mesothelioma and the treatments is now your top priority.
Read on to learn all about mesothelioma causes, symptoms and treatment as well as how to deal with this diagnosis.
Causes of Mesothelioma
The biggest risk factor for mesothelioma is working with asbestos. Abestos are commonly found in jobs in the construction and automotive industries. When these tiny particles are released into the air, workers can inhale or swallow them.
Up to 75% of mesothelioma cases can be linked to workplace exposure to asbestos. Cases of mesothelioma occur sometimes in people who live close to asbestos mines.
Mesothelioma can also be caused by zeolites which are minerals similar to asbestos. High dosages of radiation exposure is also a cause of mesothelioma.
Some researchers think that some people are genetically predisposed to the disease.
Symptoms of Mesothelioma
The symptoms of mesothelioma depend on which type of mesothelioma a person has. Mesothelioma of the lungs symptoms include shortness of breath and chest pain.
Symptoms of abdominal mesothelioma can include anemia, bowel obstruction, blood clotting, swelling and pain in the abdomen, weight loss, and fever.
When cancer spreads to other parts of the body, there could be a variety of other symptoms like pain, difficulty swallowing or swelling of the neck or face.
By the time most people with mesothelioma are diagnosed, the disease is typically very advanced and surgery isn’t possible.
The treatment available to you depends on your health, the stage of cancer you have and its location. Often, treatment is used to make the patient more comfortable so he or she can live as symptom-free as possible for however long they have left.
Some people prefer to do everything they can to treat their cancer, even if it means enduring side effects for a chance at improvement. This is a conversation you will need to have with your doctor.
In some cases of mesothelioma, surgery is an option. Sometimes, surgeons are able to remove mesothelioma. Yet, it is rare for surgeons to be able to remove all of the cancer. Even so, surgery to remove some of the cancer can reduce the symptoms of the disease.
Surgery can be an option to reduce fluid building in the chest. Doctors insert a small tube to drain fluid and might inject medicine to prevent fluid from building up again.
Surgeons might remove some of the tissue surrounding the lungs. This surgery won’t cure mesothelioma but it can relieve some of the symptoms. You might also be able to have surgery to remove a lung and surrounding tissue. This can relieve signs of mesothelioma.
Chemotherapy can be done before or after surgery.
What to Do If You or a Loved One Has Been Diagnosed with Mesothelioma
You are probably wondering what to do if you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma. This is hard news to hear. You might feel helpless, overwhelmed, afraid and a host of other emotions.
The first thing you should do is research mesothelioma to become educated about this type of cancer. Understand the mesothelioma symptoms and about mesothelioma treatment options. You might start by visiting the website for the American Cancer Society and the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation.
As you do your research, write down your questions. This way, you won’t forget your questions when you are sitting in front of your doctor.
The more you know, the better decisions you can make about your care.
Living with cancer is a unique and difficult experience. It is vital that you surround yourself with a support system. If your loved one is dealing with mesothelioma, encourage him or her to get mesothelioma help.
You will also need a solid support system. This can include friends and family to help with daily jobs like walking to the dog, getting groceries, taking you to doctor appointments and so on.
If you are the type of person that doesn’t like asking for help, you will have to learn how to seek out and accept help when you need it.
As well-meaning as friends and family try to be, it is hard for people who aren’t facing cancer to truly understand what it is like for you. Find a local cancer support group for you to join. These community groups allow you to ask questions and get support from people who are in your shoes.
If you prefer online support, there are various message boards that you can use anonymously such as the Cancer Survivors Network.
At some point, you may no longer be able to speak for yourself in terms of your medical wishes.
The wisest thing you can do is to ask your health care team about advance directives that outline your wishes to your family. This will make the process easier for your loved ones. It also ensures that your wishes will be followed.
Thanks for reading. We hope this article was helpful to you in understanding what to do if you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma. Remember, life is short. Being diagnosed with cancer is a good time to take stock of your life and figure out what you want to do with the time remaining.