This article is in memory of two men who died within six months of each other from Mesothelioma. Both men were exposed to asbestos at some point in their lives. One man worked in a shipyard. This man had a nagging cough and shortness of breath for a period of time. Finally he knew he had to see a doctor. He was diagnosed with meso and passed away in three weeks . . .
Meso is not to be messed with; what might seem as a “normal yet nagging cough” may be the first symptom of this cancer and the sooner you get in to see the doctor the greater chances you have in recovering. Let me spell this out for men in particular, men are either stubborn and will not see a doctor or think of themselves as wimps if they see the doctor – do not have this mentality if a cough is not getting better; there may be more at stake than a “cough” – it could be your life!
The following article is written by Tim Povtak, a staff writer for Asbestos.com. It is an important article and a MUST read for anyone who has been around or worked with asbestos. Again, the sooner the cancer is identified, the better chances of survival.
In memory of Rod and Mike. . .
Asbestos and What to Do With Related Disease
The use of asbestos dramatically reduced over recent decades, yet the incidence of asbestos-related diseases like mesothelioma cancer continues at a steady pace, making awareness more important than ever.
Like most cancers, mesothelioma can be treated more effectively if it is detected early, which has been difficult in the past because of an extremely long latency period and many of the first symptoms mirror less serious health issues.
It also is a rare cancer that many medical professionals, and even some oncologists, struggle to identify.
It can be anywhere from 10 years to 50 years after an exposure to asbestos before a person realizes something is wrong and gets diagnosed with the disease. Symptoms can include coughing, fatigue, shortness of breath and unexplained weight loss. Because the majority of patients are elderly, the symptoms often are not associated with a rare cancer, which delays an accurate diagnosis even further.
If there is a history of asbestos exposure – occupational exposure is the most common — coupled with these symptoms, a person should seek out a doctor with experience handling asbestos-related problems.
After a routine physical examination will come imaging tests – X-ray, MRI, or CT scan. If certain abnormalities are found, a PET scan may be recommended to look for potential cancerous metabolic activity.
If a scan uncovers problems where mesothelioma is typically seen, the process can move to various biopsies, which can further narrow down the diagnosis. If mesothelioma is suspected, it may then become crucial to see a specialist.
Mesothelioma typically attacks the lining surrounding a lung or the abdomen, stemming from the inhalation or ingestion of microscopic asbestos fibers which can be dormant for many years before causing the scarring that leads to the cancer growth.
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that once was coveted throughout the world for its ability to strengthen, insulate and resist heat. It was used in myriad of ways, particularly by industry for commercial and residential construction.
Its use in America peaked in the mid-70s but declined steadily after its long-range toxicity became so well known. Although it’s not banned in the United States today, its use is regulated carefully. Its use from the 1970s, however, still is felt heavily because of that latency period and because it’s difficult to remove.
Asbestos remains prevalent in any structures built before 1980. It is especially dangerous when disturbed during any kind of renovation, reconstruction or demolition because the aging fibers easily become airborne.
Vigilance might be the best precaution today to avoid any potential problems. Older structures have asbestos almost everywhere. From the floor tiles to the walls and into the roofs, there are asbestos products. Use precautions anywhere there are renovations being done.
If you worked years ago anywhere asbestos was used, inform a doctor if the nagging cough or sudden shortening of breath persist. Mesothelioma often is accompanied by a grim prognosis – six to 18 months to live – but earlier detection and recently improved treatment regimens have allowed patients to live considerably longer.
Surgery is only an option if it has not yet spread. Too often, though, the diagnosis isn’t made until the disease has metastasized. It’s why the scientists and doctors today – even though asbestos is hardly used – are putting considerable effort into finding ways to detect it earlier. So stay vigilant.
Author bio: Tim Povtak is a staff writer for Asbestos.com. He has written about asbestos issues since 2011 following a distinguished career as a journalist.
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