Mesothelioma is a form of cancer almost always caused by the inhalation of asbestos particles while manufacturing, handling, or exposed to industrial products such as cement, brakes, roof shingles, flooring products, textiles and insulation that contains the minerals. These particles have been shown to cause the cells of the mesothelium, which is a membrane found in various parts of the body that provides protection and lubrication to organs, to become abnormal and divide without control. The cancer can then metastasize (or spread) to other parts of the body.
Often times, symptoms of mesothelioma do not appear for some 30 to 50 years after exposure to asbestos. These symptoms may include shortness of breath, chest pain, weight loss, abdominal pain and swelling, bowel obstruction, blood clotting abnormalities, anemia, and fever. These symptoms can arise in many situations of exposure, but have notably been shown in shipyard workers, heating and construction workers, and in asbestos mines, mills, and factories. Symptoms can also stem from other diseases which asbestos exposure increases the risk of such as lung cancer, larynx cancer, kidney cancer, and asbestosis.
Treatment of mesothelioma is often a difficult and intensive process because of the nature of the cell abnormality. Treatments include surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy depending on the location of the cancer with a combination of the treatments often used to eradicate the diseased cells.
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