Mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive cancer. One of the primary mesothelioma causes is asbestos exposure. The cancer develops in the mesothelium, a protective membrane that lines three body cavities: the thoracic cavity (pleura), abdominal cavity (peritoneum) and the heart sac (pericardium).
What is asbestos?
Asbestos is a naturally occurring toxic mineral that was commonly used throughout the 20th century in thousands of products and many industries. Asbestos is naturally resistant to heat and fire, making it ideal for use in insulation. The mineral was often used in insulation and the fine, flexible fibers were frequently mixed with cement and woven into fabrics.
Exposure to asbestos can result in the development of serious illnesses such as malignant mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis.
What is the typical prognosis for a patient with mesothelioma?
A mesothelioma patient’s prognosis, or the probable course and outcome of a disease’s influence on the body, is influenced by numerous factors. Since a mesothelioma diagnosis often occurs once the cancer has progressed to later stages of development, mesothelioma prognosis is typically poor. However if a patient is diagnosed before the cancer has spread or elects to undergo treatment to combat the cancer, their prognosis may improve. Factors that may influence prognosis include: the stage of a patient’s mesothelioma at the time of diagnosis, type of mesothelioma, size of the tumor, location of the tumor and whether it may be surgically removed and the age and overall health of the patient.
Where was asbestos exposure most common?
Exposure to asbestos occurred frequently on the job in many different occupations. Jobsites where asbestos exposure was often prevalent include asbestos mines and the processing and manufacturing plants where asbestos products were produced. Shipyards, oil refineries, power and chemical plants were also common exposure sites. Those who worked in certain occupations such as firefighters, auto mechanics and machinists may have been exposed to asbestos frequently.
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