If you have ever had the flu or even a bad cold, you may have been immediately aware of your illness because of symptoms your body was exhibiting. For either of these illnesses, such symptoms might have included a runny nose, cough, fever or body aches. It’s easy to tell that a person is sick when they have such symptoms. This is not the case with certain diseases, such as mesothelioma.
In fact, if you have unknowingly inhaled or ingested the microscopic particles of asbestos, perhaps in the workplace or school, or if you rent an older home, etc., you could contract mesothelioma and be totally unaware of the illness inside your body for years. It’s a progressive and terminal disease, however; so, at some point, symptoms arise, then begin to worsen.
Basic information regarding mesothelioma
Mesothelioma is one of numerous types of cancers that you’re at risk to develop if you’re exposed to asbestos. The following list provides basic facts about this incurable disease:
- Asbestos exposure causes up to 80% of mesothelioma cases.
- Your body can harbor mesothelioma for decades before noticeable symptoms are present.
- Mesothelioma can attack organ membranes in the lungs, heart or stomach.
- Available treatments are palliative, meaning the purpose is to alleviate discomfort.
- The average prognosis for survival in those receiving treatment is 12 to 14 months.
As the disease progresses, a patient’s condition will aggressively begin to worsen, until his or her body ultimately succumbs to the disease.
Symptoms that suggest you might have mesothelioma
The symptoms of this asbestos-induced disease can vary, depending on which organ in your body is affected – lungs, heart or stomach. The following list includes symptoms from all three conditions, any of which merit immediate medical examination, especially if you believe you have been exposed to asbestos in the past:
- Irregular heartbeat
- Chest discomfort
- Difficulty breathing
- Low blood pressure
- Night sweats
- Unexplained weight loss
- Lingering cough
- General feeling of weakness and malaise
It’s always best to inform an attending physician that you may have had exposure to asbestos, especially if you have ever worked in a shipyard, an old building, the automotive mechanics industry, a quarry or a factory, or you live with someone who has worked in such industries.
Testing, treatment and support
Your medical team must conduct an extensive clinical evaluation in order for a doctor to diagnose mesothelioma. This evaluation typically includes blood tests, CT scans or MRIs, as well as physical examination and assessment of symptoms. Available palliative treatment includes pain medication, surgery to remove malignant tumors, possible removal of the diaphragm or lung and several other therapies, including immunotherapy, chemotherapeutic treatment and more.
As for support, if you are a mesothelioma patient, you will no doubt heavily rely on your closest family members and friends to provide comfort and support as your condition progresses. It may also be helpful to speak with a counselor who specializes in terminal illness issues. Many mesothelioma patients also seek legal guidance, especially if they’re considering filing a legal claim.