What is Mesothelioma (Asbestos Cancer)?

Mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer that is believed to affect around 2000 people in the UK each year. It develops when the cells of the mesothelium (a thin membrane that covers the chest and abdomen) start to multiply in a rapid and uncontrollable way and can take up to 60 years to fully develop. In this article I will be discussing this type of cancer in greater detail.

As I already said mesothelioma develops in the mesothelium. The mesothelium is actually divided into two parts. The first is the pleura which lines the lungs. The pleura is comprised of an inner layer and an outer layer which slide over each other as you breath. If mesothelioma develops in this area it is known as pleural mesothelioma and it causes the two layers to become thicker. The second is the peritoneum which lines the abdomen and it also has an inner layer and an outer layer. If the mesothelioma affects this area it is known as peritoneal mesothelioma and it also causes these layers to become thicker.

Both types of mesothelioma can be very painful and lead to a number of undesirable symptoms. Pleural mesothelioma can cause breathlessness, coughing and chest pain. It can also lead to pleural effusion where lubricating fluid in the lungs becomes trapped between the inner and outer layers of the pleura. Peritoneal mesothelioma can lead to abdominal pain, bowel problems and it swelling in the abdomen.

Almost every case of mesothelioma is caused by exposure to asbestos. In the past asbestos was a very popular construction material in the UK. However, as people became more knowledgeable they learnt about the dangers associated with this material. In particular they discovered that the very fine fibres that make up asbestos are easily released when the material is handled. This led to a complete ban on the importing and use of asbestos being imposed in the UK in 1999.

Mesothelioma is a very rare type of cancer and is believed to affect one person in every million. However, it can be deadly. If you have previously been exposed to asbestos you should go see your doctor right away and explain your concerns. Even if it turns out that you do not have this type of cancer it is better to be safe than sorry.

Whilst every intention has been made to make this article accurate and informative, it is intended for general information only. Mesothelioma is a very serious, life threatening condition and you should discuss any concerns, treatments or lifestyle changes fully with your doctor.

Reference: mesothelioma, improving your fitness can help you prevent cancer


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