Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer caused by direct and indirect exposure to asbestos. There is no known cure for the disease, but early diagnosis and treatment options make for better odds of beating mesothelioma.
There are around 3,000 mesothelioma diagnoses in the U.S. every year, most of which are people who were exposed on the job. Mesothelioma most commonly forms around the lungs (70%) and around the abdomen (20%). It can also form in the lining of the heart and testicles, though this is rare.
Symptoms of mesothelioma don’t just show up overnight, as it can take years to develop and take effect. Named after its location, the pleural lining, it is the most common type of mesothelioma. Most patients qualify for the available treatments, which can add months or even years to a person’s life.
- Dry cough
- Chest pains
- Faint or harsh breathing sounds
- Shortness of breath
- Difficulty swallowing
This is the second-most common type of mesothelioma. Formed in the lining of the abdomen, patients experience symptoms including – abdominal pain and swelling, bloating and bowel changes. They may also experience fevers, nausea, anemia, unexplained weight loss and low blood sugar level. The life expectancy with peritoneal mesothelioma depends on the stage of the cancer, treatments available and the quality of medical staff treating the patient.
Pericardial mesothelioma is one of the rarest types of mesothelioma, along with testicular. Located in the lining of the heart, prognosis typically ranges from six weeks to 15 months. Surgery helps some patients live longer than expected. The diagnosis is typically at a later stage and can cause an irregular heartbeat, difficulty breathing, murmurs, chest pain, among other symptoms.
Researchers tend to not understand this diagnosis. Most of these patients have no history of asbestos exposure, and research is lacking because of its rarity.
The first step to extend your life expectancy is to find a doctor who specializes in your type of mesothelioma. Working with a specialist can give you access to the latest treatment. Improving your diet and exercising can boost health before, during and after cancer treatment.