Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer -- a disease in which
cancer cells are found in the lining of the chest, the lining
of the abdominal cavity or the lining around the heart Mesothelioma
is the most serious of all asbestos related diseases. It is
a rare cancer that has been conclusively linked to asbestos
exposure. Mesothelioma is almost always found in patients
with a history of asbestos exposure, and, like all asbestos
related diseases, the latent period between exposure and the
onset of symptoms can be 20 to 40 years. Men are more frequently
affected by mesothelioma than women, although anyone with
direct or indirect exposure to asbestos is vulnerable to mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma affects about 7% of asbestos workers, and most
symptoms begin to appear by the time the patient is 70.
There are two types of mesothelioma: pleural mesothelioma
and peritoneal mesothelioma. Pleural mesothelioma is a cancer
that affects the pleura, or the lining around the outside
of the lungs and the inside of the ribs. Pleural mesothelioma
is believed to be caused by inhalation of asbestos or asbestos
containing materials. The vast majority of mesothelioma cases
(about 80%) are pleural in nature. Pleural mesothelioma can
be either benign, which is localized and non-cancerous, or
malignant, which is diffuse and cancerous.
mesothelioma is a cancer of the membrane surrounding the abdomen.
This type of cancer can also be benign or malignant. It is
believed that peritoneal mesothelioma is a result of ingesting
asbestos fibers in the mucus, the protective layer of saliva
that works to expel foreign agents from the body. Peritoneal
mesothelioma is extremely rare, occurring in only one-fifth
of diagnosed cases.
Common symptoms of mesothelioma include shortness of breath,
especially during exertion; a frequent cough; coughing up
blood; tightness in the chest; wheezing; and general chest
pain. Excessive sweating and weight loss are also signs of
diagnosis is important.
The sooner mesothelioma is diagnosed, the better the prognosis
tends to be. This is because, as in all cancers, mesothelioma
progresses through stages. In its early stages, mesothelioma
is found in the lining of the chest cavity or the abdominal
cavity. In later stages, the cancer has a tendency to spread
into the lymph nodes, chest wall, heart, and other organs
is usually the first step in diagnosing mesothelioma. While
mesothelioma itself cannot usually be seen in an x-ray, the
pleural effusion (fluid collecting between the lung and chest
wall) that the tumor causes is visible. Two views will probably
be taken, one where the x-ray passes through the back (posterior-anterior
view) and one where the x-ray passes from one side to the
other (lateral view.)
CT might be performed to examine the structures inside the
chest. A CT scanner emits x-rays all around you, photographing
an area in 'slices' that are compiled to give a doctor a detailed
three-dimensional image. This is a non-invasive procedure.
may be administered so your doctor can examine your chest
cavity. In this procedure, an instrument called a thoracoscope
will be put into the chest wall between two ribs while the
patient is under local anesthetic.
might be performed so your doctor can examine the interior
of the abdomen. A peritoneoscope is put into an opening made
in the abdomen while the patient is under local anesthetic.
tissues are detected in any of these tests, a doctor will
elect to perform a biopsy, where a small piece of tissue will
be removed for examination under a microscope. The biopsy
will probably occur during the thoracoscopy or the peritoneoscopy.
has been diagnosed, the doctor's next step is to determine
the size, location, and progress of the cancer. They will
want to take into consideration how the cancer appears on
the microscopic level, how well it responds to treatment,
and the age of the patient.
News Report: Asbestos Related Deaths on the Rise in the U.S.
According to a July 2004 report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),
asbestos deaths in the United States have skyrocketed since the late 1960s and will probably keep on climbing through the next decade because of long-ago exposure to the material, once widely used for insulation and fireproofing.
Asbestos related deaths are expected to rise through the next decade because asbestos related illnesses are slow in developing and can take up to 40 years between the time someone is exposed to the material and dies from it. The report also found that coastal states such as Alaska, Washington, Mississippi, Virginia, Massachusetts and Maine were among those with the highest rates of asbestosis mortality between 1982 and 2000.
ASBESTOS SETTLEMENT APPROVED
In December 2004, a Judge approved the settlement of asbestos lawsuits against Halliburton Co. Judge Terrence McVerry of the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania approved a $1.5 billion trust to be set up by two Halliburton units and their insurers to settle asbestos claims that will take effect by the end of this month. The deal also opens the way for the two units, DII Industries and Kellogg Brown & Root, to exit bankruptcy. The two companies units filed for bankruptcy in December 2003 as part of the asbestos lawsuits. In July 2004, a bankruptcy judge in Pennsylvania approved a $4.17 billion settlement of asbestos and silica related health claims of a former Halliburton subsidiary. Houston-based Halliburton inherited the liability when it bought Dresser Industries Inc. in 1998.