Imagine a disease that lays eggs inside your lungs. These eggs do not produce discomfort or coughing, they don’t cause outbreaks or rashes or anything of the sort. In fact these eggs don’t do anything except sit in your lungs and germinate for 30 to 40 years. After this time you begin to have a slight cough, a fever, maybe some cold sweats. You write it off as the flu and continue as usual until it goes away. 3 weeks later the flu is back but this time you’re coughing up blood. You visit your doctor and hope he can prescribe something to kick this crazy flu. Your doctor runs a few tests and sends you home. A week later your brought into his office and he lays the devastating news on you… you have Mesothelioma a cancer of the lungs.
This is the reality for roughly 2000 men and women residing here in the United States every year. These are people who often time have lead healthy lives. In the article, “Mesothelioma Victims – Survival Stories” Kathleen writes:
“At 42, I never thought that I would be facing a terminal illness, especially one relating to the lungs. I’ve never smoked and have lead a relatively healthy life. I have two beautiful daughters who will be heading to college soon – and I may not be alive to see their graduation.”
The primary cause of mesothelioma cancer is linked to exposure to asbestos fibers which are breathed into the lungs or swallowed. Asbestos is a material that was used heavily for many years in hundreds of products. Asbestos was primarily used due to the fact that it is strong, resists fire and corrosion, and has very effective properties for insulation.
In modern day, asbestos has many uses such as thermal pipe and boiler insulation, floor coverings, ceiling tiles, spray-applied fire proofing and sound proofing, roofing materials and “transite” pipe and sheeting. Though major public use was discontinued in the late 70s, asbestos continues to be a material used in countries outside of the U.S., and due to the fact that we trade for many of these countries goods it is necessary that we educate ourselves as to the materials used in production of the products and items we use daily.
Many more cases of mesothelioma, due to asbestos exposure, are beginning to surface today. First, because our understanding and ability to recognize the disease has increased by leaps and bounds over the years, and second, because this particular cancer lays dormant within the carriers system for 30 to 40 years. With the widespread use of asbestos during the 20th century we are starting to see the consequences of exposure to this toxic material.
Due to the fact that asbestos was in heavy concentration in the industrial and building trades during the mid 1900s, most carriers of mesothelioma cancer are men who where working around asbestos during that time. However, mesothelioma has been reported not only in cases of direct exposure, but also indirect, such as the families of these men, as they often returned home with asbestos fibers on their clothing. Even in today’s day and age where asbestos has been all but removed from our lives, it is still possible to be diagnosed with mesothelioma as cases of this cancer have been diagnosed without the presence of asbestos exposure.
It is also important to note that smokers who have been exposed to asbestos carry a far greater risk of mesothelioma. Some figures suggest as much as 3 times the percentage of a non-smoker with the same level of exposure. If you feel that you have been exposed to asbestos set an appointment with your physician to go over your chances of mesothelioma developing. The best thing a mesothelioma patient can do is to detect the presence of this disease early on, as it will increase your chances considerably.