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Asbestos Cancer

When asbestos fibers break apart, they enter the lungs through inhalation or ingestion and cause severe health problems. Malignant mesothelioma, asbestosis, and lung cancer are just some of the diseases caused by asbestos exposure.

What Is Asbestos Cancer?

Asbestos cancer, or mesothelioma, is a rare disease that develops in the protective lining that covers the lungs, abdomen, or heart. Statistics show that asbestos cancer affects more than 2,500 people in the United States each year, yet the first symptoms don't appear until 20 to 50 years after exposure. Although there is no cure for asbestos cancer, doctors use various treatments and surgical procedures to reduce its symptoms and help those diagnosed with this disease live longer.

Types of Asbestos Cancer

Like most forms of cancer, mesothelioma is separated into two groups, benign and malignant. On the malignant side, doctors divide this aggressive disease into different types, primarily based on what part of the body is affected:

  • Pleural mesothelioma accounts for more than 75 percent of all cases. This form of cancer originates in the chest cavity.
  • Peritoneal mesothelioma develops in the thin membrane surrounding the abdomen. This disease accounts for up to 20 percent of cases.
  • Pericardial mesothelioma, the rarest form of asbestos cancer, occurs in the protective sac covering the heart. Less than 5 percent of all patients are diagnosed with pericardial mesothelioma.

Asbestos Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment

Early diagnosis and proper treatment are the keys to long-term survival. The patient's age, health condition, type of cell affected, and stage of the tumor are the main factors considered when the doctor prescribes treatments. Chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation can all be used to treat asbestos cancer, and many patients are asked to take part in clinical trials.

However, this severe form of cancer is often confused with less serious diseases, so early diagnosis is not always possible. If you have whopping cough, pneumonia, laryngitis, flu, common cold, asthma, hernia, or bronchitis and you have a history of exposure to asbestos, you must tell your doctor right away. He or she will review your medical history and order lung function tests, imaging tests, or x-rays to determine your diagnosis.

If you have been diagnosed with asbestos cancer, you may be looking for even more information. We can help you get it as well as appropriate treatment. Complete the form below, and we will send you a free mesothelioma information packet with this information.

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Last Edited: Thu November 14, 2013