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OTHER ITA SITES:
Putting Mesothelioma Into Perspective
Mesothelioma is an uncommon form of cancer, usually associated with previous exposure to asbestos. Of course, saying it's uncommon is hardly comforting to someone dealing with this cancer or who has a loved one suffering from it. In this disease, cancerous cells develop in the mesothelium, which is a protective lining that covers most internal organs of the body. Its most common site is the outer lining of the lungs and chest cavity, known as the pleura, but it may also occur in the lining of the abdominal cavity, called the peritoneum or a sac that surrounds the heart, called the pericardium. These sensitive tissues become very irritated as a result of the cancer's progression.
The most common reason people develop mesothelioma is from asbestos exposure with those who have worked on jobs where they inhaled asbestos particles. Some flooring adhesives also contained asbestos fibers and even pipe insulation was made with asbestos for a time. People exposed to these fibers have a greater risk of developing this cancer, but it is not a certainty.
Mesothelioma clinical symptoms may not appear until 30 to 50 years after exposure to asbestos. This increased the difficulties associated in legal claims because the time between the exposure and the disease was so long.
Shortness of breath and pain in the chest are often symptoms of pleural mesothelioma. Peritoneal mesothelioma clinical symptoms include weight loss and muscle wasting. Abdominal swelling and pain due to a buildup of fluid in the abdominal cavity are also common symptoms associated with Peritoneal mesothelioma. Other clinical symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma may include bowel obstruction, blood clotting abnormalities, anemia, and fever. As the cancer spreads beyond the mesothelium, symptoms may include pain, trouble swallowing, or swelling of the neck or face. These symptoms may be caused by mesothelioma or by other, less serious conditions and should always be evaluated by a medical professional for a proper diagnosis.
As there is no universally agreed protocol for screening people who have been exposed to asbestos, early detection is difficult. Discuss any possible risk factors you may have with a doctor if you believe you may have been exposed to asbestos.
Biologically, asbestos fibres have been shown to alter the function macrophages, which are specialized cells of the immune system. This ultimately creates conditions which favor the development of mesothelioma. Macrophages generate increased amounts of hydroxyl radicals, which are normal by-products of cellular anaerobic metabolism. However, these free radicals are also known as clastogenic and membrane-active agents thought to promote the carcinogenic effect of asbestos. These free radicals can participate in the oncogenic process by directly and indirectly interacting with DNA, modifying membrane-associated cellular events, including oncogene activation and perturbation of cellular antioxidant defenses. Because of these factors, healthy levels of dietary antioxidants may improve the bodily capacity to manage the progression of these free radical effects, but it should be noted that nutrition is not regarded as medical intervention for this disease and dietary improvements should be viewed as complimentary benefit by properly nourishing the body and avoiding the more common and more harmful foods which are so common in the average diet in industrialized countries.
Asbestos may also possess immunosuppressive properties and is an issue which is under great study. Again diets, that promote proper immune function may provide some benefit to a person at risk, or deal with the effects of mesothelioma, but it is not considered medical intervention by any means.
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