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Everything about rare cancer mesothelioma

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mesotheliomaMesothelioma is a type of aggressive cancer that affects the thin layer of tissue that covers many internal organs, mainly lungs, heart, or abdomen.

Here is everything you need to know about mesothelioma:

1. According to The Mesothelioma + Asbestos Awareness Center, the disease is caused primarily by the inhalation of asbestos fibers.

2. Mesothelioma is most commonly diagnosed in older people who had worked with asbestos in an industrial setting. This type of cancer takes 30 to 50 years after exposure to develop.

3. Though a deadly disease and its prognosis is poor, early detection and newer treatment methods may give patients hope for longer survival.

4. A rare type of cancer in itself, the first case of mesothelioma was reported in India in September 2015 in the state of Rajasthan.

5. Mesothelioma has been categorized into four different types – Pleural Mesothelioma, Peritoneal Mesothelioma, Pericardial Mesothelioma, and Testicular Mesothelioma – depending on the parts of body affected by the cancerous growth.

6. Pleural Mesothelioma refers to the condition where the cancer develops in the pleura – internal lining of lungs. This is the most common type of mesothelioma.

7. Though the symptoms might not show up for years, the common ones are chest wall pain, pleural effusion, or fluid surrounding the lung, shortness of breath, fatigue or anemia, wheezing, hoarseness, or a cough, and blood in the sputum (fluid) coughed up (hemoptysis).

8. Peritoneal Mesothelioma, another very common type of mesothelioma cancer, affects the lining of the abdomen. It spreads faster and hence treatment becomes very difficult.

9. Common signs of Peritoneal Mesothelioma are abdominal pain, ascites, or an abnormal buildup of fluid in the abdomen, a mass in the abdomen, bowel malfunction and weight loss.

10. The rarest form of mesothelioma is Pericardial Mesothelioma that affects pericardium – the lining of heart.

11. The symptoms for mesothelioma show up around 10-20 years after manifestation and hence it becomes extremely difficult to treat patients.

There are specific symptoms like constrictive pericarditis, heart failure, pulmonary embolism, and cardiac tamponade, as well as non-specific ones like substernal chest pain, orthopnea (shortness of breath when lying flat), and cough. In all cases, the diagnosis show a tumor encasing or infiltrating the heart.

12. Testicular Mesothelioma affects lining of the testes. It is such a rare cancer that only 1% of all mesothelioma cancer patients in the USA has been detected with this type of disease. Symptoms and treatment procedure of this type of cancer are still being researched.

13. In severe or end stage of mesothelioma, the patient might show the following symptoms – blood clots in the veins, severe bleeding in many body organs, jaundice, low blood sugar level, pleural effusion, blood clots in the arteries of the lungs or severe ascites.

14. According to MediFree, mesothelioma survival rate is mostly one-year post diagnosis. However, with treatment, a patient may live for around five years.

15. The incurable cancer mesothelioma is a notified disease under Section 25 of The Mines Act, 1952 and it can be contained in most cases by preventing exposure to asbestos.

16. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), USA, has recommended exposure limit of 0.1 asbestos fiber per cubic centimeter.

17. As per the World Health Organization (WHO), as many as forty countries, excluding India and the US, have banned chrysotile (white) asbestos, the most common form of the carcinogenic mineral.

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18. According to Surviving Mesothelioma, “between 2000 and 2007, India’s importation of asbestos rose from 125,000 metric tons to about 300,000, with most of it coming from Canada.” Since 1960, India has imported about 7 million metric tons of asbestos. Pertinently, asbestos is mixed with cement for construction of buildings and production of cement roofing tiles.

19. Mesothelioma can also be fought legally, where a patient can file a lawsuit against the company responsible for his illness and claim compensation.

Big Wire

Sreya Basu

Sreya is based in Kolkata. She is a Senior Editor of Big Wire.

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