Mesothelioma is a cancer that grows in the thin layer of tissue called the mesothelium. These are the tissues that cover most of your internal organs. This is one of the worst forms of cancer a person can get. It is the second most painful after bone cancer and is an extremely aggressive form of the disease.
Types of Mesothelioma
Doctors classify mesothelioma into various types depending on its location in the human body. There are 4 types.
If cancer occurs in the pleura – the tissue surrounding your lungs – it is called pleural mesothelioma. This is the most common of all mesotheliomas. Those diagnosed with this type of cancer usually have a life expectancy of over three years if the diagnosis is made at Stage 1. However, if the cancer is discovered when it has already reached Stage 4, then the life expectancy drops down to less than 12 months.
Other types of cancer are rarer. Cancer that affects the abdominal tissue is called peritoneal mesothelioma. If a person has been diagnosed with this type of cancer, then they have a chance to live at least another five years after surgical and supportive treatment.
When the cancer is located in the lining of the heart, the pericardium is called pericardial mesothelioma. This extremely rare cancer and has a life expectancy of 6 to 15 weeks.
The final type of this cancer is found in the testicle and is called testicular mesothelioma. This is the rarest of all mesotheliomas, and life expectancy is just two years.
Mesothelioma is also classified based on the cancer cell types: Epithelioid mesothelioma, sarcomatoid mesothelioma, and biphasic mesothelioma.
Causes of Mesothelioma
The most common type of cancer, pleural epithelioid mesothelioma, which affects up to 80% of all mesothelioma patients, is caused by prolonged exposure to asbestos.
Cancer cells develop when asbestos fibers are inhaled or swallowed by a person. Once ingested, these fibers attach themselves to the mesothelium, which leads to the formation of cancer cells.
While asbestos exposure is the most common cause of mesothelioma, there is another type of mineral that has also been found to cause this cancer – erionite.
This is a volcanic mineral that was first discovered also to be responsible for causing mesothelioma after a large number of mesothelioma cases were diagnosed in Cappadocia in Turkey.
In very rare cases, some people develop this cancer with no apparent link to either asbestos or erionite exposure. In these cases, the cause is unknown, and there is not enough information to understand how these patients developed mesothelioma.
Who is Most Vulnerable to Mesothelioma?
Since most cases of mesothelioma are caused by exposure to asbestos, people who have worked or are working in certain types of blue-collar jobs and those serving in the military are the ones most exposed to asbestos and have subsequently developed this deadly cancer.
In fact, until the 20th century, there were virtually no reported cases of mesothelioma. It was only after industries started using asbestos in the production of drywall, glues, additives, piping, insulation, tiles, cement, and even shingles that cases of mesothelioma began appearing.
Today, those working in the construction, heavy industry, mining, military ships, or have been living near an asbestos mine, or a contaminated site or in a house constructed using asbestos products are most vulnerable to this disease.
Compensation for Mesothelioma
Because mesothelioma can be directly linked to asbestos exposure, patients of this cancer can claim compensation from the company or entity that they feel has been responsible for them contracting this deadly disease.
They can use the services of mesothelioma lawyers to help them with their case.