Mesothelioma is a very rare form of cancer that occurs in the thin layer of tissue that covers the majority of your internal organs. It usually occurs around the lungs and is very aggressive and deadly. Unfortunately, most treatment of this cancer is not a cure. It is designed to keep you comfortable for the remainder of your life.
Asbestos exposure is the number one risk factor for mesothelioma. Asbestos is a type of mineral that is mostly used for commercial building purposes. It was used in 95% of buildings manufactured before the 1980s. If it’s whispy fibers are inhaled over a long period of time, it can cause mesothelioma.
Other risk factors include, living with someone who works with asbestos, polio vaccines from 1955-1963, radiation, and a family history of mesothelioma.
Symptoms of mesothelioma can vary, but include:
- chest pain under the rib cage,
- painful coughing,
- shortness of breath,
- unusual lumps of tissue under the skin on your chest, and
- unexplained weight loss.
It is important that you tell your doctor if you have any of the risk factors listed above because mesothelioma can be mistaken for other lung problems. You want to get diagnosed and start treatment as soon as possible.
Your doctor will run a series of tests to determine if you have mesothelioma. These include biopsies, chest x-rays, CT scans, and MRIs. This will help determine what stage of mesothelioma you have and what treatment to take. There are four stages of mesothelioma, number four being the most serious.
Treatments for mesothelioma may include:
- radiation therapy, and
- participation in clinical trials.