Warning Signs Of Mesothelioma

http://healthlob.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Mesothelioma-Symptoms-UK.jpgMesothelioma is difficult to diagnose because the early signs and symptoms of the disease can be subtle or mistaken. Symptoms are all too frequently ignored or dismissed by people who are inclined to attribute them to common every day ailments. Sometimes patients live with symptoms for up to 6 months before being diagnosed but usually the symptoms are present for two to three months prior to a mesothelioma diagnosis.

About 60% of patients diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma experience lower back pain or side chest pain, and there are frequent reports of shortness of breath. Lower numbers of people may experience difficulty swallowing, or have a persistent cough, fever, weight loss or fatigue. Additional symptoms that some patients experience are muscle weakness, loss of sensory capability, coughing up blood, facial and arm swelling, and hoarseness.

Peritoneal mesothelioma originates in the abdomen and as a result, symptoms often include abdominal pain, weight loss, nausea, and vomiting. Fluid buildup may occur in the abdomen as well as a result of the cancer.

Asbestos exposure is considered the primary risk factor for the development of the cancer. Anyone previously exposed to asbestos displaying any of these symptoms should seek medical attention from their doctor first, only to be referred to a doctor who specializes in the treatment of mesothelioma and thoracic oncology after receiving a positive diagnosis.

How long does it take for mesothelioma symptoms to appear?

One of the most unique facts about mesothelioma is that the disease is characterized by a long latency period that is very often associated with the disease. The latency period is the amount of time that elapses from the first point of asbestos exposure to the point where symptoms begin to appear so that a diagnosis can be made. In some mesothelioma cases the latency period is reported to be 10 years but the average latency for the majority of cases is between 35 and 40 years. As a result, the cancer often progresses to later stages before a diagnosis is made. When diagnosed in the later stages, mesothelioma treatment options become more limited and are less effective.

Symptoms of Mesothelioma

Provided below is a list of symptoms that mesothelioma patients may experience. Please click on a symptom to learn more about it.


Mesothelioma patients diagnosed with anemia have a lower than normal red blood cell count or hemoglobin in the blood.

Blood Clotting Disorder

A symptom experienced by many mesothelioma patients that can lead to anemia and other serious complications if not given appropriate medical attention.

Bowel Obstruction

Bowel obstructions can be a direct effect of the cancer. It is a very painful symptom that can sometimes develop in peritoneal mesothelioma patients.

Chest Pain

Often experienced in pleural mesothelioma and pericardial mesothelioma patients, chest pain can develop as the tumor grows and places strain on the lungs and heart.


Pleural mesothelioma patients often develop difficulty swallowing (esophageal dysphagia) as the mesothelium continues to grow on the lungs.

Fluid Effusion

An effusion can occur in mesothelioma patients when there is fluid buildup affecting either the pleura or pericardium. This may need to be drained in a relatively limited surgical procedure to control the effusion and associated symptoms.


Hemoptysis, or the symptom of coughing up blood, can have its origins in the lungs, bronchi or trachea of mesothelioma patients.


Nausea is experienced in a number of cancer patients, as it is often a side effect of chemotherapy treatment and sometimes the underlying cancer. Those diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma may also experience nausea as a result of increasing abdominal pressure.

Peritoneal Effusion

Peritoneal mesothelioma patients may experience a buildup of fluid in the peritoneum as the tumor continues to grow. This can result in an effusion which can inhibit the function of abdominal organs.

Peritoneal Effusion

In pleural mesothelioma patients, pleural effusion may develop when there is a large amount of fluid present in the pleura, the lining between the lungs and chest cavity.

Weight Loss

Weight loss can occur in mesothelioma patients as a side effect from cancer treatment or as the result of other symptoms that may also be present, such as difficulty swallowing or nausea.

What Causes Mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is a cancer that occurs in the mesothelium, a thin membrane encompassing the body’s internal organs and cavities. Mesothelioma is caused by asbestos exposure. Asbestos fibers that are inhaled through the mouth and nose may eventually become embedded in the lining of the lungs, causing harmful inflammation of the pleura and resulting in mesothelioma or asbestosis (scar tissue formation in the lungs). It has also been found that swallowing asbestos fibers could contribute to a form of the malignancy originating in the abdomen known as peritoneal mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma generally results from occupational asbestos exposure, but there are instances of environmental exposure that can also cause the disease. Oftentimes a family member can be affected indirectly by second hand exposure from an asbestos worker’s soiled work clothes.

Asbestos was an effective insulation material. It was used liberally in commercial and industrial products in the United States until being regulated in a joint effort between the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Environmental Protection Agency in 1989. Occupational exposure was common among workers who encountered these products in many industries including shipbuilding, power plants, and other industrial settings.

Asbestos insulation workers appear to have the highest rate of asbestos related disease. One study reports that almost six percent of asbestos workers fall victim to mesothelioma or experience respiratory symptoms. Asbestos insulation workers are over 300 times more likely to be diagnosed with mesothelioma than those with no exposure history.

How does exposure to asbestos cause mesothelioma?

Asbestos fibers are microscopic, though they are also quite durable. For this reason, asbestos was used in a number of different industrial compounds to enhance strength and resistance to temperature extremes- two properties at which the mineral is highly adept. Asbestos exposure most often occurred among individuals who worked extensively with asbestos or asbestos-containing materials. Friable asbestos (meaning loose or airborne fibers) is easily inhaled- often without the exposed person realizing.
Mesothelioma Causes

Pleural mesothelioma is the most common variety of the disease and forms on the pleural membrane, which surrounds the lung and chest cavity. Peritoneal mesothelioma is less common and forms on the surface of the peritoneum, a thin membrane surrounding the abdominal cavity. Pericardial mesothelioma is the least common variety of the disease and forms in the cardiac cavity that envelops the heart, a mesothelial membrane known as the pericardium.

Inhaled asbestos fibers are known to be the cause of pleural mesothelioma, whereas ingested asbestos fibers are the cause of peritoneal mesothelioma. While the exact causal nature between asbestos and pericardial mesothelioma is not known, physicians and cancer researchers surmise asbestos fibers in the blood stream lodge in the outer layers of the heart’s ventricles and lodge in the pericardium. Once asbestos fibers reach the surface of the peritoneum or pericardium, the inflammation process is essentially the same as it is on the surface of the pleura.

Primary workplace exposure to the mineral was common in naval shipyards, power plants, railroad infrastructure, and other industrial jobsites. However, asbestos-related mesotheliomas have also been diagnosed in spouses or children of those exposed to asbestos. Workers often brought home dangerous asbestos fibers on their clothing, hair, or person. Those who came into contact with these fibers on the person or their clothing have developed mesothelioma as a result.

Other Contributing Factors

Mesothelioma is also causally associated with a few other factors, but many of these are attributed to the development of mesothelioma in conjunction with exposure to asbestos.


Those who smoke are at a higher risk of mesothelioma, though smoking is more commonly associated with traditional lung carcinomas. Smoking tends to enhance risk even further in those who were also exposed to asbestos.

Radiation Exposure

While extremely rare, some mesothelioma patients attribute their diagnosis to exposure to radiation rather than exposure to asbestos. Radiation tends to transform and mutate cell growth patterns and is more commonly associated with brain and blood cancers.

Carbon Nanotubes

Research is extremely preliminary in this study, but some laboratory studies indicate a molecular similarity between asbestos mineral fibers and carbon nanotubes. Tests indicate a pronounced risk of mesothelioma in some laboratory animals implanted with carbon nanotubes.

Smoking Can Causes Mesothelioma

http://www.mesotheliomainfocenter.co.uk/images/smoking.jpgIt has long been known that smoking is hazardous to one's health, causing a marked increase in instances of mesothelioma lung cancer among those who smoke regularly. However, smokers who are or have been exposed to asbestos carry a much higher risk of developing an even more serious disease - malignant mesothelioma, a difficult-to-treat cancer that affects the lining of the lungs (pleural mesothelioma), heart (pericardial mesothelioma), or abdomen (peritoneal mesothelioma).

Exposure to asbestos has been identified as the major cause of mesothelioma cancer. The disease occurs when an individual inhales sharp asbestos fibers, which then become lodged in the lungs. Smoking, according to the Centers for Disease Control, weakens the lungs and decreases a body's ability to remove asbestos fibers. Further, cigarette smoke irritates the air passages and causes them to produce more mucus which, in turn, blocks the passage of air and the dispelling of fibers.

According to a variety of studies that have been performed throughout the last two decades, while cigarette smoking alone does not lead to mesothelioma, cigarette smokers who are exposed to asbestos are about 50 to 84 times more likely to develop asbestos lung cancer and, most experts agree, these smokers are at least twice as likely to develop mesothelioma.

Furthermore, mesothelioma risk factors are higher for those who have already developed a less serious asbestos-related disease, namely asbestosis. Also, the more packs a day that an asbestosis sufferer smokes, the higher the chance for developing this aggressive cancer. Simply stated, those who have asbestosis should stop smoking. A cessation of smoking, according to studies by the National Cancer Institute, results in a 50 percent decrease in the risk for a mesothelioma diagnosis within about five years of quitting, a figure that is encouraging for smokers with early asbestos disease.

Smokers who have been exposed to asbestos and have not quit should submit to regular medical check-ups to determine the health of their lungs. Tests to monitor the formation of asbestos cancer, such as mesothelioma, might include a chest x-ray or a lung function test. In addition, a simple blood test known as the Mesomark® assay, used to detect the presence of mesothelioma, may be in order for smokers who suffered asbestos exposure.

Mesothelioma Cancer: Beware of Asbestos

Exposure to asbestos particles is one of the principal causes of mesothelioma cancer, also known as asbestos cancer. As a naturally occurring mineral with useful commercial applications, asbestos is found in plumbing, insulation and other building materials and products.

Through the liberal commercial use of this material, most people in the United States and other industrial nations have been or will be exposed to loose, airborne particles in their work or home environments, this exposure can create significant health hazards.

Commercial Applications

Over 700,000 schools and buildings in the United States today contain asbestos insulation as reported by the US Environmental Protection Agency. Asbestos exposure doesn't stop there, however. Asbestos is often found in ship yards, manufacturing facilities, railway facilities and construction sites. Blue collar workers are at the highest risk for developing mesothelioma due to occupational exposure. They typically work in aluminum plants, oil refineries, chemical plants, mines, factories, shipyards, construction sites and railroads. Employees at insulation and gas mask manufacturing facilities are also at risk. The occupations most widely affected are miners, factory workers, railroad workers, ship builders and construction workers - especially those who install asbestos-containing insulation. Sometimes family members related to the workers receive second hand exposure to asbestos from the dust and fibers that were brought home on the workers clothes and also become at risk for contracting mesothelioma.

There are six different types of asbestos: chrysotile, amosite, crocidolite, tremolite, anthophyllite and actinolite. These six mineral types are divided into two classifications, serpentine and amphibole. Chrysotile is the only mineral in the serpentine class. As known carcinogens both classes of asbestos can cause mesothelioma.

In the United States, chrysotile was the most commonly used asbestos mineral, and is known for its curly fibers that can be easily woven into fabrics. Applications of chrysotile include drywall compound, plaster, vinyl floor tiles, roofing materials, acoustic ceilings, fireproofing, caulk, brake pads and shoes, stage curtains, fire blankets and dental cast linings.

Amosite and crocidolite are the other more common asbestos minerals used, though their application is not as extensive as chrysotile. Products manufactured out of these asbestos minerals include insulation board, ceiling tiles and casing for water services.

In the past ten years, trace amounts of asbestos have been found in talc, a leading ingredient in crayons.

Exposure and Health Risks

The extensive use of asbestos across many different industries exposes not only those individuals working in the manufacturing of raw asbestos or working with asbestos-related products, but also individuals who may have asbestos in their homes, churches or schools. Further, asbestos particles may cling to the clothing or hair of an individual working with asbestos and potentially contaminate others.

Though chrysotile is the most common form of asbestos used in products and is a known carcinogen, amosite and crocidolite asbestos are the most hazardous to health. All types of asbestos can linger in an individual’s lungs for many years after exposure, but amosite and crocidolite are the most persistent, lingering particles.

There is a higher risk for individuals working in asbestos-related environments, though many individuals with minimal exposure can also have damage that can lead to mesothelioma cancer or other diseases.

Although asbestos exposure may have hit its peak from the turn of the twentieth century through the 1970s, many individuals are still being subjected to asbestos particles. Arguably, the most recent and tragic mass exposure resulted from the attacks on 9/11, where tons of asbestos particles were released into the air, harming thousands of rescue workers and individuals living near Ground Zero. Diagnosed with asbestos cancer due to their prolonged, persistent exposure, many brave firefighters, police and rescue workers continue to suffer.

Further, many individuals continue to be exposed to asbestos in older homes. With the boom of Do-It-Yourself projects, many homeowners are tackling renovations without knowing the potential health risks. Attempting renovations in these environments may disturb asbestos causing it to become airborne and inhaled. Without knowledge of where asbestos may be located in these homes, there is a significant risk of accidental exposure, and any homeowner should have professional do a thorough inspection before any projects begin. Removal should always be handled by a professional contractor and should not be attempted by homeowners.

One of the groups hardest hit from asbestos-related diseases are America’s veterans. All branches of the United States military used equipment, gear and products laden with asbestos, unwittingly exposing young men and women between the 1940s and late 1970s. Most veterans repeatedly exposed to asbestos suffer from mesothelioma disease.

For over one hundred years, almost every product that we can come in contact with may have been produced with asbestos components. From decorative household items, to products manufactured to protect firefighters, to dental products, asbestos has been the silent, deadly part of recent American industry.

Asbestos Related Disease

Some research points to the fact that inhaled asbestos fibers cause a physical irritation resulting in mesothelioma rather than the cancer being caused by a reaction that is more chemical in nature. As fibers are inhaled through the mouth and nose they are cleared from the body by adhering to mucus in the nose, throat and airways and then get expelled by coughing or swallowing. The Amphibole fibers (long and thin) do not clear as easily and it is therefore thought that they can embed into the lining of the lungs, chest or stomach causing scarring and inflammation which increases the risk for mesothelioma cancer. Mesothelioma symptoms can be detected as early as ten years after exposure and can incubate as long as forty years.

Asbestosis (scar tissue in the lungs) or mesothelioma lung cancer can also be caused by the inhalation of asbestos fibers. In fact, people exposed to asbestos are seven times more likely to develop lung cancer over the general public. Workers who sustain high levels of asbestos exposure are more likely to die from asbestosis, lung cancer or mesothelioma than any other disease. It is also believed that the action of coughing up and swallowing asbestos could contribute to a form of mesothelioma originating in the abdomen called peritoneal mesothelioma. This disease has been found to exist in other organs of the body as well such as the larynx, pancreas and colon, but those instances are extremely limited compared to lung cancer incidents.

The chance of developing mesothelioma is in direct proportion to the duration and amount of asbestos exposure that an individual sustains. Those who are exposed to high levels of asbestos at a young age, for long periods of time have a greater risk of being diagnosed with mesothelioma than those who have short, low level exposure. Another important consideration is that the mesothelioma latency period is very long. Often, twenty to forty years can elapse from the time of exposure to diagnosis. Genetic factors can also play a role which explains why not everyone exposed to asbestos develops an asbestos related disease.

Risk Factors For Malignant Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma Risk Factors
There are several risk factors that increase the likelihood that a person will develop mesothelioma. The primary risk factor is asbestos exposure. Exposure to this very harmful substance can significantly enhance the chances of contracting the disease. Smoking does not have a direct causal relationship with mesothelioma but is a significant compounding factor and increases the chances of developing the disease. Other less common secondary factors include exposure to radiation, zeolite, simian virus 40 (SV40) and erionite. We discuss each of these risk factors in more detail below. Please click on the links to learn more about each mesothelioma risk factor.

Exposure to Asbestos

Exposure to asbestos is the leading risk factor associated with mesothelioma. Asbestos is an insulating material comprised of magnesium-silicate mineral fibers. It was favored by builders and contractors for many years for its low heat conductivity and resistance to melting and burning. Since researchers have identified more and more links between mesothelioma and exposure to asbestos, the material is now less widely used. Prior to this discovery, however, millions of Americans have experienced serious exposure to this harmful substance.

Smoking and Mesothelioma

Smoking alone is not linked to mesothelioma, but smokers who are exposed to asbestos have a much higher chance of developing asbestos lung cancer (as much as fifty to ninety percent higher) and as much as double the risk of developing mesothelioma.

Less Common Mesothelioma Risk Factors


Thorium dioxide (Thorotrast), a substance used in x-ray tests in the past has reported links to pleural mesothelioma and peritoneal mesothelioma. The use of Thorotrast has been discontinued for many years due to this discovery.


Some mesothelioma cases in the Anatoli region within Turkey have been linked to Zeolite, a silica based mineral with chemical properties similar to asbestos found in the soil there.

Simian Virus 40 (SV40)

Some scientists have found the simian virus 40 (SV30) in mesothelioma cells from humans and have been able to create mesothelioma in animals with the virus. The relationship between this virus and mesothelioma is still unclear, however, and further research is being conducted to gain clarity on this potential link.

Erionite Exposure

Erionite is a naturally occurring mineral that possesses properties that are very similar to those of asbestos. There have been several documented cases of mesothelioma in indivuduals living near large erionite deposits.

Carbon Nanotubes

Researchers continue to evaluate nanotube exposure as a possible risk factor for mesothelioma even though scientists have not expressed immediate concern.