Mesothelioma is a rare and virulent cancer that affects the mesothelial surface lining of the lungs (pleura), the abdominal cavity (peritoneum) or the lining around the heart (pericardium).
Mesothelioma is caused by exposure to mineral fibers (asbestos, for example).
Some people have been exposed to mineral fibers at their work and others exposed by other members of the family brought fiber to the home from their work in their clothing or their hair or on their skin.
The most common mesothelioma is the result of exposure of 20-50 years or more ago.
Malignant mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that starts in the mesothelium, a membrane that covers and protects most internal organs of the body.
The mesothelium has two layers, one surrounding the body itself, and the other forms a sac around it completely. A small amount of fluid is normally produced between these two layers, lubricating the motion of the organs protected.
When normal cells of the mesothelium lose control and spread quickly, they produce mesothelioma.
The most common mesothelioma type is pleural mesothelioma.
It occurs in the pleura, the lining of the lungs. Other forms are peritoneum mesothelioma, reaching the peritoneum lining the abdominal cavity and pericardial mesothelioma of the pericardium.
The first symptom of pleural mesothelioma is chest pain, often associated with breathlessness and recurrent pleural effusion, usually bleeding. The latency between first exposure and the development of mesothelioma is seldom less than 20 years, often in the range of 30-40 years or more.
Tobacco plays a synergistic cofactor in the risk of developing mesothelioma.
The consequences of mesothelioma:
Although reported incidence rates have increased over the last twenty years, mesothelioma is still a rare type of cancer.
The incidence is approximately one case per one million inhabitants. By comparison, populations with a high level of smoke can reach the effect of over a thousand lung cancer per million inhabitants.
The incidence of malignant mesothelioma, currently at a level of approximately 7-40 cases per 1 million inhabitants in Western industrialized nations, according to the importance of human exposure to asbestos over the past decades.
It was estimated that the incidence in the United States could achieve a 15 per one million inhabitants in 2004.
It is expected that the incidence continues to grow in other regions of the world.
Mesothelioma occurs more often in men than in women and risk increases with age, but this disease can appear in either men or women at any age.
It may be noted that an epidemic of mesothelioma was discovered in three Turkish villages (Karain, and Tuzkoy Sarehidir). This is responsible today for 50% of deaths there.
The health risks of mesothelioma:
Occupational exposure to asbestos is the major risk factor for mesothelioma.
A history of asbestos exposure exists in almost all cases listed. However, mesothelioma has been reported in a few cases of individuals with no known exposure to asbestos.
Asbestos was widely used in many industrial products, including cement, brake linings, roof shingles, flooring, textiles, and insulation products. If tiny asbestos particles float in the air, especially during the manufacturing process, they may be inhaled or swallowed, and pose serious health problems.
In addition to mesothelioma, exposure to asbestos increases the risk of lung cancer, asbestosis causes pulmonary fibrosis (chronic non-cancer) and other cancers, such as tumors of the larynx and kidney.
For a person with the combination of smoking and asbestos exposure significantly increases the risk of developing mesothelioma or bronchial carcinoma.
Careers that have high risk of developing mesothelioma:
The carpenter in the area of iron
The builders of the vehicle chassis
Workers in the building
Contractors in the construction
The cause of mesothelioma:
Mesothelioma is almost always caused by exposure to asbestos fibers. Many people have been exposed in military and others by their occupation or, secondarily, through contact with exposed workers. Because of latent mesothelioma, it may not appear until 20-50 years or more after exposure.
The types of products that may contain asbestos typically:
Moulded or preformed shield used in thermal insulation of pipes and boilers
Insulation panels used as protection against fire, thermal insulation, partitions and ducts
Stuffing asbestos used as fire breaks in ceiling voids
Millboard, paper and paper products used for insulation of electrical equipment, asbestos paper may also be used as combustible on the side panels of wood fibers
Products of asbestos cement flat and corrugated sheets used to cover walls or ceilings, the cement products have also been used in gutters, rainwater pipes and water tanks
Material roofing asphalt
Vinyl floor tile or thermoplastic