Health information : malignant mesothelioma
A very specific form of cancer is called mesothelioma. It starts from tissue, called mesothelium, which is supposed to protect organs by generating a fluid that allows organs to move. It serves as some kind of lubrifiant, for lungs amongst other body organs.
How does mesothelioma spread ?
The tissue, mesothelium, is around many organs (lungs, stomach, heart, ...); therfore, mesothelioma can start in many places. The tumors can be benign or extremely cancerous.
3 out of 4 mesotheliomas originate in the area of the chest cavity (pleural mesothelioma) Then, the tumors can also begin in the abdomen (peritoneal mesothelioma) or heart, but the tumors starting in the heart are very rare. Some cases were know to start off in the testicles, but the perioneal mesothelioma is the most common one.
Please read our page on mesothelioma symptoms for more information on how is mesothelioma found.
How many people get it ?
Mesothelioma is rare. Between 2000 and 3000 people get it per year in the USA. Most patients are over 65 years old, and men are more affected than women.
Is it serious ?
Yes, mesothelioma is a very serious form of cancer. Usually, people survive only 2 years maximum. Most likely, the cancer is widely spread out before the symptoms appear, causing the survival time to drastically decrease.
Can mesothelioma be prevented ?
The small fibers that asbestos are made of are the main danger. The risk factor is higer when a person is in contact with asbestos. You can find asbestos in insulation, floor tiles, door gaskets, roofing and various compounds. It could also be found in natural dust and rocks.
Since the link between asbestos and mesothelioma has been made, the material has been removed from the ingredients of most materials.
Smokers are not directly exposed, but they are more likely to get lung cancer if in contact with asbestos fibers.
Of course, the best way to prevent mesothelioma is to stay far away from asbestos. The people the most likely to be exposed to asbestos fibers include factory workers, ship & railroad workers, construction workers and miners.
If you live in an old house, it would be wise to change your insulation, but an expert can check for traces of asbestos in your home. Always hire a qualified person to remove your asbestos !