Heavy exposure to asbestos is the main cause of mesothelioma. Each year, the disease affects roughly 2,500 people in the United States, nearly 90 percent of which have been in close contact with asbestos. Many of them labored in factories, mines, shipyards and other workplaces before 1970.
Asbestos Is The Main Contributor
Upon its first usage in Europe and the United States in the late 1800s, people valued the advantages of asbestos. The naturally-occurring material was strong and fire retardant, making it a popular insulation for construction, manufacturing, and other industries. It wasn't until much later that people discovered that asbestos could be breathed in or accidentally ingested. As such, asbestos can collect in the body and eventually cause cancerous tumors.
Because of this threat, it's vitally important that anyone who might have had prolonged exposure to asbestos get a thorough exam. This applies even if your contact occurred decades ago. Mesothelioma is too often diagnosed after it has progressed to an advanced stage. It hides well and is sometimes identified as something minor. So if a first examination doesn't satisfy your concerns, don't hesitate to schedule a second opinion. Or a third.
While asbestos remains the No. 1 cause of mesothelioma, other factors can contribute to developing the condition, including:
- fibers released from taconite and other building materials.
- radiation exposure.
- smoking. (It may not directly cause the condition, but smokers may see weakened lung power, making it more difficult to rid the body of asbestos or other fibers.)
- injuries to the chest and other physical disturbances.
Preventing The Condition
You can reduce your chances of contracting mesothelioma by telling a cancer specialist that you have had contact with asbestos. He or she will schedule an exam and the appropriate tests. Remember: The earlier the diagnosis, the better the chances for effective treatment.
Also, be aware of any immune-deficiency conditions you may have or immune-suppressing medications you may be taking. Researchers theorize that immune suppression might increase your chances for developing mesothelioma. They advise that strengthening the immune system can help thwart the development and/or severity of mesothelioma.
What Doctor Should I Talk To?
An array of cancer specialists stand ready to help you battle mesothelioma. We want to make it easy for you to find the right assistance, so we've compiled a list of appropriate doctors. Simply fill out the following form to get the names and specialties. Your good health is our objective.