Mesothelioma and Women
Mesothelioma is often thought of as a male disease as the majority of people who develop it are men. Yet, women are just as susceptible to asbestos and can develop mesothelioma just as men do, although they are usually exposed to asbestos in different ways.
If you or a loved one were diagnosed with mesothelioma or any other illness due to asbestos exposure, you may be entitled to substantial compensation. We invite you to use our Asbestos Attorney Locator Tool to find a top mesothelioma lawyer in your area. With over $30 billion currently in asbestos trust funds, now is the right time to take the first step in determining what you may qualify for.
Second-hand Asbestos ExposureMany women have developed mesothelioma after ingesting asbestos fibers second-hand, via their spouse or other loved ones who worked around asbestos on job sites. In the past, numerous job sites failed to offer workers protective gear while working around asbestos, nor did they offer on-site showers. In turn, workers would return to their family home with asbestos fibers in their hair, on their skin, and on their clothing. Most workers were unaware of the dangers they were bringing into the home as numerous asbestos manufacturers kept information on the hazards of asbestos hidden.
Second-hand exposure to asbestos remains one of the top reasons that women develop mesothelioma. In fact, a study published by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) indicates that almost half of all women’s pleural mesothelioma cases stemmed from second-hand exposure via relatives.
Occupational ExposureMost men who were exposed to asbestos worked at job sites that entailed industrial, blue collar type work, including working in factories, construction jobs, plants, shipyards, insulation work, and more. Women who were exposed to asbestos at work, however, often worked clerical jobs in buildings made with asbestos materials or as teachers in schools made with asbestos materials.
Women are also at risk of asbestos exposure if they worked in:
- Government buildings
Environmental ExposureMen and women alike are susceptible to environmental exposure to asbestos if they live near naturally-occurring asbestos. According to the Agency for Toxic Substance & Diseases Registry (ATSDR), naturally-occurring asbestos isn’t dangerous unless it’s disturbed.
Naturally-occurring asbestos is found in the East, Southeast, Midwest, and West Coast areas of the United States. The most concentrated areas of naturally-occurring asbestos are California, Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, and Texas.
Survival Rates for Women with MesotheliomaStudies indicate that women diagnosed with mesothelioma generally have a longer survival rate when compared to men. For instance, women who undergo surgery have an average survival rate of a little over a year after treatment, whereas men who undergo surgery typically have a survival rate of around 16 months.
The type of mesothelioma, however, will affect survival rates as well. Women with epithelial tumors generally survive longer than women with nonepithelial tumors. Epithelial tumors have consistent patterns, whereas nonepithelial tumors have inconsistent, random patterns, and although patients may receive the same type of treatment, those with epithelial tumors generally live much longer.
NIH states that most women diagnosed with mesothelioma have the epitheloid subtype.
How Can Women Prove Negligence for Second-Hand ExposureAs mentioned earlier, second-hand exposure is one of the main ways that women develop mesothelioma. However, proving negligence can get a bit tricky.
Since most women who developed asbestos via second-hand exposure didn’t work at the job sites, they are ineligible for workers’ compensation. In addition, proving a second-hand exposure case can be difficult and met with many obstacles.
If you’ve been exposed to asbestos via second-hand and you were diagnosed with an asbestos-related illness, it’s important to retain the services of an experienced mesothelioma lawyer who can help you understand the legal process and what you may be entitled to. In recent years, more and more women are winning mesothelioma lawsuits for second-hand asbestos exposure, holding the manufacturing companies liable.
Although it has been over 30 years since asbestos has been used, the impact is still severely felt today. Along with millions of workers that have suffered from asbestos exposure that led to malignant mesothelioma, there are still several ways in which people can be exposed to asbestos. For example, asbestos-containing materials are currently found in many older homes, factories, and products. As a result, federal laws were created for employees and/or contractors who work around asbestos. Of course, the facts and statistics of asbestos exposure are what formed these laws in the first place.
If you or a loved one suffer from an asbestos-related disease, keep in mind that you may qualify for substantial compensation. Right now, there is over $30 billion in asbestos trust funds, awaiting those who’ve been diagnosed with an asbestos illness. Use our free Asbestos Attorney Locator Tool to find a top mesothelioma attorney in your area.
- The largest use of asbestos occurred between 1930 through the 1970s. Old homes, factories, and plants built during this time may possibly contain asbestos.
- United States veterans, specifically those who served in the Navy during World War II, have the largest occurrence of asbestos-related diseases.
- The U.S. Office of Compliance predicts that at least 10,000 people will die this year from asbestos-related diseases.
- Even though asbestos is no longer used in the United States, it is still mined in several other countries. However, there is no safe amount of asbestos.
- According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), 4% of all lung cancer diseases in the United States are directly from asbestos exposure.
- When asbestos-related cancer is diagnosed, it’s typically in an advanced stage because mesothelioma symptoms typically do not surface until 15 to 35 years later after exposure.
- In 1964, mesothelioma was directly linked to asbestos exposure. It was determined that asbestos exposure is the exclusive cause of mesothelioma.
- Most mesothelioma victims are diagnosed at around 62 years of age, decades after being first exposed to asbestos.
- Although studies are still inconclusive, there are strong suggestions that asbestos can cause cancer in the esophagus, kidneys, and other body parts.
- Developing lung cancer triples for those who smoke and were exposed long-term to asbestos.
- There is currently no cure for mesothelioma. However, doctors strive to provide individualized medical plans and the latest mesothelioma treatment options for victims so that they can live longer and in the most healthy way possible.
- Ovarian cancer has been directly related to asbestos. Women who used talcum powder containing asbestos are at an increased risk of developing ovarian cancer.
- According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, asbestos exposure causes laryngeal cancer.
- There are a total of four confirmed cancers that are caused by exposure to asbestos: asbestos-related lung cancer, ovarian cancer, mesothelioma, and laryngeal cancer.
- Although anyone who has been exposed to asbestos is at risk of developing an asbestos-related disease, victims are typically older males who have worked in facilities in which they were exposed daily.
- Mesothelioma, the common asbestos-related disease, consists of four stages: Stage I,II, III, and IV. The latter stages are more severe and prognosis at this point is usually grim.
- Although the use of asbestos during employment was banned decades ago, many current employees are still exposed. For example, workers may have the task of removing insulation that has asbestos in it while other workers may need to repair building parts that contain asbestos. Fortunately, there are both state and federal laws that now protect those who work around asbestos.
- Today, employees must not be exposed to more than 0.1 fibers of asbestos per cubic centimeter over a typical 8-hour shift. Employers must not rotate employees in order to stay within the limits of exposure.
- Employers must monitor workers daily who are at risk for even minute exposure to asbestos.
- Employers must also provide medical examinations every 30 days for employees who work around asbestos.
- Protective clothing and hygiene facilities must be available to any employee who works around asbestos.
- Smoking does not cause mesothelioma despite large rumors. However, studies suggest that smoking may increase the risk of certain types of lung cancers when in combination with asbestos exposure.
- Per the American Society of Clinical Oncology, radiation may cause mesothelioma. Although rare, some patients who received radiation for lymphoma ended up developing mesothelioma.
- Childhood mesothelioma is rare, but occasionally happens. Children can be exposed while in school buildings built with asbestos, but it usually happens through second-hand contact via a parent or family member who worked around asbestos.
- Currently, a mesothelioma vaccine is being researched in the Netherlands. However, the vaccine works best for those who were exposed to asbestos but have yet to develop mesothelioma.
- Mesothelioma rates are predicted to continue to rise within the next decade.
Labels: Mesothelioma Statistics
Pleural Mesothelioma Cancer Guide
Pleural mesothelioma, known also as lung mesothelioma, is is the most commonly-diagnosed type of mesothelioma, making up around 75% of all diagnosed patients. Prognosis can be poor for mesothelioma patients, but if the disease is caught early, treatment response is more favorable, which can help extend survival rate.
If you or a loved one were diagnosed with mesothelioma or any other illness due to asbestos exposure, you may be entitled to substantial compensation.We invite you to use our Asbestos Attorney Locator Tool to find a top mesothelioma lawyer in your area. With over $30 billion currently in asbestos trust funds, now is the right time to take the first step in determining what you may qualify for.
Due to the way in which asbestos enters the body, the most common form of mesothelioma is found on the pleural membrane; the lining of the lungs. It is rarer than lung cancer, with about 2,500 new cases diagnosed in the United States each year.
However, it’s an extremely debilitating form of mesothelioma with low survival rates. Pleural mesothelioma, like other forms of mesothelioma, is difficult to detect in its initial stages. It takes a long time to make its presence known as it can lay dormant in the pleural membrane. It can take up to 50 years for symptoms of mesothelioma to surface.
Additionally, its symptoms can be easily confused with common respiratory ailments such as influenza, bronchitis, or pneumonia. These symptoms often include shortness of breath, coughing, chest pains, fever, coughing up blood, difficulty in swallowing, or buildup of fluid in the chest cavity. Extreme tiredness, lack of appetite, and subsequent weight loss are other symptoms associated with the disease.
Because these symptoms can confuse physicians, the disease is usually accurately diagnosed when it has already reached a Stage 3 level of cancerous development. As the cancer progresses, the symptoms become more severe. Unfortunately the disease is commonly it its advanced stage when this occurs, rendering it difficult for physicians to entirely remove the tumors.
Although pleural mesothelioma is the most common type of mesothelioma, experts have yet to find a cure as mesothelioma as a whole is still considered a relatively new disease. Therefore, prognosis for victims is unfavorable. As with most diseases, your individual survival rate will greatly depend upon the stage of the disease and your overall health.
As with pericardial and peritoneal mesothelioma, there are three major treatment options for pleural mesothelioma: surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. None of them can cure the cancer, but they can add months, even years, to a mesothelioma patient’s life. Many physicians will use a combination of the most popular treatments for a higher success rate.
The most invasive procedure is surgery. This form of mesothelioma affects the lining of the lungs and organs which are protected by the rib cage. A surgeon has to cut through the ribs in order to reach the affected areas.
Currently, there are two types of surgical procedures: pleurectomy/decortication (the removal of the pleural lining), and the more radical extrapleural pneumonectomy (surgical resection of the affected lung and the surrounding parietal and visceral pleura).
In both cases, surgeons may take out either part of or the complete diaphragm and the pericardial sac. In addition, one or more ribs are removed from the patient’s body as a result of these procedures. Patients must be in good physical condition in order to endure such an invasive procedure. As a result, the majority of patients in the advanced stages of lung mesothelioma typically do not qualify.
Possible Side Effects of Surgery:
- Blood clots and/or bleeding
- Lung Malfunction
Chemotherapy is less invasive than surgery and aids in reducing the size of malignant mesothelioma tumors in the pleural lining. However, since this treatment does not cure mesothelioma; chemotherapy helps to relieve some of the symptoms and extend a patient’s life expectancy. It is also used to eliminate any additional cancerous cells left behind after surgery.
Side Effects of Chemotherapy:
- Patients can easily bleed and/or bruise because of reduced blood platelets
- Hair loss from from the chemotherapy drugs attacking healthy hair follicle cells
- Mouth sores and cuts
- Nausea, which may also include episodes of vomiting
- Low white blood cell count, which results in possible infections
- Lack of energy and feeling lethargic
Radiation therapy, especially when applied in conjunction with extrapleural pneumonectomy surgery, is an effective form of treatment in mesothelioma cases. Radiation therapy involves the killing of cancer cells with doses of high energy rays.
This treatment is used exclusively in cases of pleural mesothelioma due to the plethora of negative side effects possible in cases of peritoneal mesothelioma. Radiation therapy can be used either to prevent cancer from returning to surgically treated areas or to slow down the cancer’s progress in cases where surgery is not a viable option. Targeted radiation treatments also help to relieve a patient’s pain.
Possible Side Effects of Radiation Therapy
- Hair loss
- Skin rashes and burns
- Lethargy and fatigue
- Trouble with breathing, include breath shortness
- Loss of appetite
More recently, patients have also opted for non traditional treatments, such as yoga, meditation, acupuncture, holistic healing, and herbal remedies.
Studies have suggested that combining alternative treatments with traditional treatments will help prolong life spans by helping to build the immune system while reducing stress and promoting relaxation. Several doctors have found these forms of treatments available and even offer holistic medicines and practices at their offices.
Again, it is important to note that while these treatments help to control the spread of asbestos related cancer in the pleural region, there is currently no cure for any form of mesothelioma. However, with the right kind of treatment, prognosis can be extended and painful symptoms can be reduced.
Pericardial Mesothelioma Cancer Guide
Pericardial mesothelioma is a rare and fatal form of asbestos cancer. It is the least commonly diagnosed of the various types of mesothelioma, but can also be the most damaging and the hardest to treat.
If you or a loved have an asbestos-related disease, you may be eligible for a large amount of compensation. Currently, there is over $30 billion in asbestos trust funds, set up for those who have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related illness. Use our free Asbestos Attorney Locator Tool to find a top mesothelioma attorney in your area.
According to a study cited in the Texas Heart Institute Journal (THIJ), pericardial tumors of this type account for less than 10 percent of all types of mesothelioma. This means that 14 to 30 out of every million people are diagnosed each year on average.
The same study also states that in a sampling of 120 cases involving pericardial mesothelioma, three quarters of the diagnoses were made after the patients died. This illustrates the disease’s most vexing features – its slow development and insidious fashion of exhibiting symptoms which are normally indicative of other cardiopulmonary diseases – and its extremely aggressive nature.
Pericardial mesothelioma gets its name from the part of the body where it is found, the pericardium. The pericardium is the protective double-walled sac which surrounds the heart. This sac contains pericardium fluid, which protects the heart and its associated veins and arteries from external jolts or shocks.
When a mesothelioma tumor forms anywhere in the pericardial cavity, it will, over a long period of time, grow, become malignant, and eventually metastasize to other parts of the chest and abdomen. This cancer will eventually affect the cardiovascular system once it develops, with devastating consequences to the heart and lungs.
Development, Symptoms, and Diagnoses
Typically, the cancer forms on the outer lining of the pericardium. As a tumor grows over a period that can take as long as five decades before symptoms of mesothelioma show up, it can either remain localized in one area of the pericardium or completely surround a patient’s heart.
Once it has taken root, the tumor can then attack various parts of the cardiovascular system, including the atrium, coronary arteries, coronary sinuses, the myocardium, the heart’s conduction system, the lungs, or regional lymph nodes.
The problem with diagnosing this disease is that its resulting symptoms, such as shortness of breath, persistent coughing, and chest pains, are also associated with other cardiopulmonary diseases and thus mask the nature of the malignant mesothelioma.
In most cases, this cancer can only be detected by using imaging methods such as chest X-rays or magnetic resolution imaging (MRIs). By the time a patient’s doctor or referred oncologist discovers the tumor, however, chances are that it has already spread beyond the pericardium and metastasized to the lymph nodes or the lungs.
This has been the case in between 30% to 50% of cases involving pericardial mesothelioma. This explains why pericardial diagnoses are more frequently made postmortem.
Besides its lethality and relative rarity (it has a reported prevalence of less than 0.002%), pericardial has another vexing feature associated with it: Unlike other forms of malignant mesothelioma, the pericardial strain is the only one which is not almost exclusively linked to asbestos exposure.
In patients with, for example, pleural mesothelioma, the tumors in the pleural lining developed as a result of long-term exposure to asbestos fibers. When breathed in, these fibers caused lesions in healthy tissue. The tissue became cancerous over time and created malignant tumors.
The disease can develop as a result of exposure to asbestos, but medical research has also linked it to other contributing factors. These risk factors may include hereditary predisposition, conditions which affect the immune system, exposure to radiation, infections, diet, or various types of inflammations.
As with asbestos-related mesothelioma, pericardial tumors of this nature are presently incurable. Chemotherapy and, to a lesser extent, a form of surgery called pericardiectomy are used in patients with pericardial mesothelioma to cure localized tumors or to relieve the pressure on cardiac tissue.
It is important to note that most mesothelioma treatments cannot be treated by surgery alone; pericardiectomy operations are always carried out in conjunction with either chemotherapy or radiation.
However, while these forms of treatment reduce the size of the mesothelioma, they are only life-prolonging measures. Pericardiectomy operations, radiation, and chemotherapy can hardly ever remove tumors in their entirety.
In most cases where a patient has been diagnosed, the cancer has already spread to the nearby lymph nodes or the lungs. Yet, other forms of surgery are available to qualified candidates, which focus on removing parts of the cancers as opposed to the entire tumor. A physician will ultimately make the decision of which patients qualify for these surgeries.
Because malignant mesothelioma is a relatively new and extremely rare form of cancer, research into how to improve treatments is ongoing, and is expected to get better and scientists discover new methods.
On average, effective treatment helps extend a patient’s life expectancy. According to the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation (MARF), statistics show that about half of all mesothelioma patients can expect to live for a period which ranges from eight months to around a year and a half. A smaller number of patients, about 30% of the total, can extend their lives by an average of five years.
Naturally, each patient’s prognosis is unique and depends on variables such as age, general health, diet, and other lifestyle issues, such as smoking. In broad terms, patients in their 50s who exercise regularly, do not smoke and have no major health problems will have a better prognosis than older patients who are sedentary, smoke or were heavy smokers, and have pre-existing health problems, including other forms of cancer.
Malignant mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that affects the lung and chest lining and/or the abdomen after prolonged exposure to asbestos. There are three different kinds: pleural, peritoneal, or or pericardial mesothelioma. The difference between the three is where the cancer is located. Pleural mesothelioma victims have cancerous cells in the lungs, pericardial mesothelioma patients have cancerous cells in the the pericardium area of the heart, and peritoneal mesothelioma patients have cancerous cells in the linings of the abdomen.
If you or a loved one suffer from an asbestos-related disease, you may qualify for substantial compensation. Currently, there is over $30 billion in asbestos trust funds, awaiting those who’ve been diagnosed with an asbestos illness. Use our free Asbestos Attorney Locator Tool today to find a leading mesothelioma attorney in your area.
Who is Affected?
As with other types of mesothelioma, malignant mesothelioma typically affects people who have worked around and have had prolonged exposure to asbestos, and although the ages will vary, victims are typically males around 60 years of age.
However, children and spouses exposed second-hand to asbestos run the risk of developing the disease. For example, if a wife washes the clothes of her husband who just spent the day working around asbestos, small asbestos fibers may make their way into her lungs, causing the same damage as it would to someone who worked around asbestos for years.
This type of asbestos exposure is rare, but it’s important to remember that anyone who has had any contact with asbestos runs the risk of getting this cancer.
As aforementioned, the average age of malignant mesothelioma victims is around 60. This stems from the fact that it usually takes 20 to 50 years to properly diagnose the disease. As such, symptoms of mesothelioma usually don’t occur for decades after asbestos exposure and usually start out as if the victim is suffering from a common cold or the flu.
Typical symptoms include the following:
- Chest pain that starts out light and increases in severity over time
- Cough and hacking
- Fatigue and lethargy
- Shortness of breath
As the disease progresses, the symptoms become more severe, including:
- Unusual weight loss
- Extreme bloating and abdominal pain
- Swelling in the arms and face
- Sweating profusely
- Difficulty in breathing and swallowing
- Chest pain becomes much more pronounced
When testing for malignant mesothelioma, physicians will normally use chest x-rays and a chest CT, along with a biopsy in order to remove fluids and tissues in the lungs to check for asbestos fibers. Blood tests are also administered and a thorough medical background and work history are reviewed, including times you’ve been exposed to asbestos, will be completed.
Per the American Cancer Society (ACS), when a chest x-ray is performed, physicians look for unusual fluid buildup in the lungs as well as any calcium deposits and changes in the shape of the lungs. This is the first indication that the patient may have this cancer, but other tests must be conducted before a final diagnosis is made.
When performing a CT scan, physicians are able to gather a more in-depth look at the lungs via cross-sectional images. This will allow them to pinpoint and determine the exact location of the cancer.
Biopsies are performed by inserting a long needle into the chest and directly into the tumorous area. Physicians are then able to withdraw a sample of the tumorous cells and analyze more thoroughly. If asbestos fibers are found, a diagnosis of mesothelioma usually follows.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for malignant mesothelioma, and it is also one of the most difficult forms of cancer to treat. If mesothelioma has moved into a malignant stage, the disease is so advanced that in most cases, it’s impossible to remove.
Therefore, surgery is usually not an option as this stage unless the patient has a mass tumor. Even then, other factors are taken into consideration such as the patient’s age and overall health. This is not to say that all patients with malignant are not candidates for surgery. Some people may still qualify for different types of surgeries that aim to remove portions of the cancer as opposed to the entire tumor.
If the patient does not qualify for surgery, a combination of mesothelioma treatments can be used, such as chemotherapy and radiation. This works by reducing the symptoms and helping the victim live a better life with less pain.
Keep in mind, however, that if left untreated, victims typically pass away within nine months, according to the ACS. It’s imperative to follow up with medical treatment and assistance even though there is no cure, as it can help to prolong your life.
Your age, how long you were exposed to asbestos, general health, and response to treatments will also determine your survival rate. There is also no set rule to life expectancy as each person’s medical history and health are unique. While one person may survive up to a year, another person may go on to live another decade or more.
Side Effects of Treatment
As with anyone who undergoes surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation–regardless of the disease–side effects typically follow. It’s important to remember, however, that treatments affect different people in different way, and not everyone will experience the same side effects.
The typical side effects from surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation are as follows:
- Hair thinning and hair loss
- Nausea with or without vomiting
- Easily prone to infections
- Bruising and bleeding easily
- Bladder changes–urinating more frequently or less frequently
- Body swelling
- Mouth ulcers
- Constipation and/or diarrhea
- Hard time remembering and concentrating
- Nerve damage
Other less common side effects include internal organ damage, hearing loss, excessive bleeding, and blood clotting. All side effects typically stop within a few months after treatment is complete. However, if you have a high fever or just do not feel well, always consult with your physician as soon as possible.
Malignant mesothelioma, similar to many other types of cancers, is caused when the body’s DNA is damaged. DNA damage occurs in mesothelioma victims when they are exposed to asbestos over a long period of time, typically at job sites that used asbestos-containing products or by using household products for extended periods that contained asbestos. In rare instances, some victims may have developed mesothelioma after short-term exposure to asbestos, but in the majority of cases, victims were exposed to large amounts asbestos for extended periods of time.
Unlike many cancers, mesothelioma does not have a large number of causes. One of its alternate names is asbestos cancer because its primary cause is long term exposure to asbestos. There is evidence, however, that asbestos is not the only cause even though it leads as the #1 reason victims get the disease.
If you or a loved one suffer from an asbestos-related disease, you may qualify for substantial compensation. Currently, there is over $30 billion in asbestos trust funds, awaiting those who’ve been diagnosed with an asbestos illness. We invite you to use our Asbestos Attorney Locator Tool to find a top mesothelioma lawyer in your area.
Primary Cause of Mesothelioma: Asbestos Exposure
As previously mentioned, mesothelioma is primarily caused by prolonged exposure to asbestos. Prior to the 1980s, many homes, buildings, work sites, and materials were built using asbestos because of its positive properties: heat and fire resistance.
After extensive research and investigations determined that asbestos is extremely harmful to people, the majority of businesses and manufacturers stopped using it. However, this was decades after a massive amount of individuals had already been exposed. In other instances, even though it was determined that asbestos was dangerous, several businesses continued to use it as their profits would have seriously suffered had it been eliminated.
In 2009, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) confirmed the investigations and findings, and released a statement that informer the public that the primary cause of mesothelioma is asbestos exposure.
In addition, the statement reported that workers who were around asbestos on a daily basis run the highest risk of getting mesothelioma. The most common work sites associated with using asbestos include factories, plants, steel mills, schools, asbestos mines, and asbestos processing plants. Yet, people at home are also at risk, especially if they live in an area close to a natural-occurring asbestos deposit site.
Two other studies performed in 2010 by the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation and the Cancer Institute revealed again, that the main cause of mesothelioma is via asbestos exposure. However, it usually takes a hefty amount of asbestos exposure before a victim contracts mesothelioma.
Once the fibers enter into the system, it’s almost impossible for the body to expel them. The fibers then begin to attack the mesothelium which in turn causes lesions to form. Over time, cells in the damaged tissue become cancerous and form tumors. It can then take up to 50 years for the first symptoms of mesothelioma to surface.
How Asbestos Attacks the Body
People are exposed to asbestos by inhaling the fine fibers that the mineral produces. These fibers then get lodged in the lungs. Asbestos can also be unknowingly swallowed, and the fibers make their way down to the abdominal area. Unfortunately, once asbestos fibers are in the body, as previously mentioned, it’s almost impossible to remove them all. As time moves on, these fibers can cause significant damage to the body, which can lead to mesothelioma. Although scientists and physicians are still trying to determine exactly why asbestos fibers cause cancer, there are several theories that are currently being researched:
- Changes in Genetics: Asbestos can disrupt mesothelial cells, which are naturally-occurring cells in the body. This in turn hinders the functions of the cells, which can lead to cancer.
- Inflammation of Cells: When the body’s cells become irritated, inflammation and scarring occur. Consequently, it leads to cell damage and cancer.
- Free Radicals: Asbestos produces free radicals in the body. Once this happens, DNA can become damaged, which leads to cancer.
- Oncoproteins Growth: When asbestos is in the body, cells begin producing oncoproteins. Oncoproteins hinders normal cell production, which can consequently lead to cancer.
Secondary Cause of Mesothelioma: Drug Interactions
Some mesothelioma patients have not been exposed to asbestos. Researchers have found links between a drug called Thorotrast and mesothelioma.
According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), patients administered the drug are at an elevated risk of developing lung carcinoma and mesothelioma.
Thorotrast is a mixture of particles that was used primarily in the 1930s and 1940s when performing x-ray imaging. It helped physician produce high quality images, yet unfortunately, the particles remain in the human body.
In addition, Simian Virus 40 (SV40), has been linked to mesothelioma. SV40 is a virus that was found in a few species of monkeys and later found in Polio vaccinations.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 90 million Americans received a Polio vaccination between 1955 through 1963. It was during this time period that the Polio vaccine was contaminated with SV40.
Although humans typically aren’t susceptible to mesothelioma after getting the vaccine, studies have shown that at least 40 patients with mesothelioma also have traces of SV40. More research needs to be done in order to understand how this happens.
Another possible cause of mesothelioma is exposure to erionite. Though much less common than asbestos exposure, erionite is similar to asbestos in that both are naturally-occurring minerals that are harmful when ingested or inhaled.
Furthermore, erionite has been shown to mimic the same process of development as asbestos-related cancers, taking up to 50 years for the first symptoms to appear.
The biggest difference, however, is that erionite is inhaled and ingested primarily through the environment and not in the workplace.
Studies have also shown that erionite poses a higher risk of victims developing mesothelioma and other types of lung cancers when compared to asbestos. Mesothelioma also develops more quickly and with less exposure to erionite as opposed to asbestos.
Erionite can be sometimes found in volcanic ashes that have been modified via weather changes and water. In some rare instances, erionite has been found in water purification systems and softeners. Usually however, erionite is found in natural deposit sites.
There are known erionite deposits throughout the world, including:
In the United States, erionite deposits can be found in:
- North Dakota
Turkey yields the highest amount of erionite. In fact, in the village of Tuzkoy, there is an extremely high amount of malignant mesothelioma victims because of the naturally-occurring yet excessive amount of erionite deposits surrounding the area. Several of the village people use erionite as food storage which further exposes them to risk.
In the United States, scientists are still studying the adverse effects of erionite, particularly in North Dakota. When compared to asbestos, there currently is little information regarding the health risks of erionite.
Although extremely rare, some experts have suggested that certain people may be predisposed genetically to mesothelioma.
In fact, a research funded by the National Institutes of Health (NHI) found a specific mutation gene called the BAP1, that makes the carriers of the gene at great risk for developing both mesothelioma and melanoma of the eyes. These people are also at a much higher risk of developing an asbestos-related disease if they are ever exposed to the mineral.
In addition, people with BAP1 are also at risk for developing different kinds of cancers such as breast, ovarian, pancreatic, and renal.
Regardless of the way someone contracts mesothelioma, the symptoms are almost always the same. Keep in mind, though, that some people may exhibit more symptoms than others, and it typically takes decades for the even the most common symptoms of mesothelioma to surface.
Typical symptoms include:
- Chest pain that can fluctuate from minor to severe
- Fluid buildup in the lungs
- Difficulty swallowing and pain when attempting to swallow
- Overwhelming sense of fatigue and lethargy
- Nausea and vomiting
- Unexplained weight loss
- Dyspnea (shortness of breath)
- Dry coughing, wheezing, and/or hacking
- Pleural effusions
Less Common but More Serious Symptoms
- Lung Collapsing
- Coughing up blood
- Nerve damage in the arms
- Blood clots on the hands and arms
- Horner’s Syndrome (rare condition that affects the nerves in the eyes and face)
Labels: Causes of Mesothelioma Cancer