Talking About Mesothelioma: Understanding The Disease

Some people don’t really understand mesothelioma. They see it as a form of lung cancer, but other than that they aren’t sure what it is, how it happens, or anything else about it. That’s unfortunate, because some people could be at risk and not even be aware of it. Mesothelioma comes from being exposed to asbestos, and it’s not just the people who worked with it every day who might have a problem. There are people who were indirectly exposed, like the spouses and children of asbestos workers, who are also at risk for mesothelioma. The disease usually develops 20 to 50 years after exposure, and sometimes longer. It takes that long for the asbestos to do enough damage to the lining of the lungs that tumors start to grow.

Anyone who’s been exposed to asbestos in the past should see his or her doctor, because it’s important to be screened for the disease. Mesothelioma is a serious, deadly, and aggressive form of cancer, and the faster it’s found and treated the better the person’s prognosis. That’s a very important thing to be aware of, especially for people who were heavily exposed to asbestos in the past. Catching it before symptoms start can make a lot of difference, as people who come to their doctor with symptoms often live only another six months to one year, even with treatment. Early detection is the key, as is the case with most cancers.

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