Friday, 25 October 2013

Secrets of Asbestos Related Cancer

Posted by Vipul Mathur  |  at  Friday, October 25, 2013 No comments

The blog is just to make you aware about mesothelioma, a type of lung cancer spreads due to exposure of asbestos, and has been almost unstoppable in many countries including India for the last several years.

What is Asbestos

They are a group of minerals occurring naturally and are used in certain products like building materials and vehicle breaks due to their property to resist heat and corrosion. Asbestos are of different types like Chrysotile asbestos, anthophilite asbestos etc., and any such type of minerals treated chemically or altered.

Dangers of Asbestos

The exposure to asbestos by inhalation cause serious damage to the lungs and other vital organs. The interesting point here is  that symptoms appear years after the exposure has occurred. Due to the inhalation of this mineral, a scar like substance accumulates inside the lungs which causes loss of lung function and leads to lung's disability and finally death.

Smokers are always at a higher risk of getting infected to this mineral and developing asbestos related diseases. So, most common types of deadliest cancers occur by smoking or inhaling poisonous chemicals and so are categorized under various types of smoking diseases.

Permissible exposure limit for asbestos

The exposure to asbestos is so dangerous that people should be cautious about its exposure which must not exceed 0.1 fiber  per cubic centimeter (f/cc) of air. In addition to this, short term exposure must also be limited to not more than 1 f/cc, averaged over 30 minutes.

What is Cancer

Cancer is a term used when healthy cells of our body starts multiplying in abnormal numbers. Our body produces millions of cells daily which become older after some days and are replaced by other new cells. This is a normal phenomenon controlled by the body. However, If this control is lost, it can lead to the production of too many cells at a time which finally results in a tumor.

what is Mesothelioma

It's a type of lung cancer which attacks mesothelium, a thin lining made up of mesothelial cells which surrounds the inner surface of the chest wall where it is known as pleura. However, it is called as peritoneum, when it surrounds the abdomen. This mesothelial lining also sourrounds some other organs like heart, lungs, intestines etc.
Image of lungcancer

Do you know about 2500 people in the United Kingdom (UK) alone are diagnosed with this disease yearly, which is often called as malignant mesothelioma. Please find some more facts as listed below:

  • Mesothelioma is a type of lung cancer typically results from the exposure to asbestos.
  • Cancer is an abnormal mass of cells which spreads within the healthy cells of the body to infect them.
  • The infected cells finally manage to enter into other vital organs of the body where they cause further damage
  • It's  far more common to have mesothelioma in the chest than in the abdomen.
  • The noncancerous forms of the disease is known as benign mesothelioma
Once the cancer starts spreading, it becomes really difficult to stop it and most of the times, it enters into other vital organs of the body like heart, lungs, kidneys etc.Mesothelioma is diagnosed by doing a biopsy.

Mesothelioma Types

If we talk about mesothelioma types, then studies suggest that there are no less than four major types of mesothelioma. The most common and frequent of them is Pleural mesothelioma. It affects the inner lining of lungs or abdominal cavity.There are also some non cancerous forms of disease known as benign mesothelioma.

The different types of mesothelioma affects different locations of the body. It is equally important to know the location as well as complete histology of the originating cancer, which ultimately helps a doctor in deciding the exact line of its treatment.

Image showing mesothelioma

Please have a look at the percentage of cases diagnosed for each major type of mesothelioma:

Pleural Mesothelioma-       75%
Peritoneal Mesothelioma     10-20%
Pericardial Mesothelioma    1%
Testicular Mesothelioma     <1%

Symptoms of mesothelioma

The common symptoms associated with the disease can be listed as:

  • pleuritic chest pain
  • shortness of breath
  • night sweat
  • weight loss
A number of other common symptoms are noticed in patients suffering from the disease. However, the most common symptoms reported as shortness of breath and pleuritic chest pain.

Surprisingly, the pain is not pleuratic as it does not get worsen by deep breathing in spite of the fact that pleura (outer surface of lungs) is involved. At the same time, most other diseases involving pleura are associated with pleuritic pain (pain that worsens with deep breathing). However, the disease gets worsen further with some common symptoms of shortness of breath and weight loss.

Causes of mesothelioma

The disease spreads due the continuous exposure of a hazardous mineral named 'asbestos'. The exposure of this mineral is so dangerous that it can lead to mesothelioma within a span of one or two months. Most people suffering from malignant mesothelioma are unaware about the exposure to asbestos. Some even get exposed to their household environment without knowing its severe harmful effects.

Due to continuous harmful effects of asbestos, the US government in the year 1983 instituted OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration). However, in Europe, the number of new cases of the disease continue to rise

Treatment of mesothelioma

There are generally three lines of treatment done in patients with malignant mesothelioma:

  • surgery (taking out the cancer)
  • chemotherapy (using drugs to fight the cancer)
  • radiation therapy (using high-dose X-rays to kill cancer cells)

Mesothelioma Survival Rates

The survival rate is the percentage of patients who are able to survive after they are diagnosed with the disease. If we talk about the overall survival rate of the disease, then statistics tell that the rate of survival is quite low.

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