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What is Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that affects the lining of the internal organs. Usually developing in the lungs, mesothelioma is an extremely progressive disease that can lie dormant for years, or even decades, before symptoms present themselves.
While there is no cure for mesothelioma, many patients improve as a result of treatments like radiation, surgery and chemotherapy. However, due to the latency period of this disease, many patients go undiagnosed until mesothelioma has progressed beyond the point of effective treatment.
What Causes Mesothelioma?
So, what ar the causes of mesothelioma cancer? Typically affecting the lungs, mesothelioma has been shown to be caused by exposure to asbestos. Asbestos, which is a group of naturally-occurring chemical compounds, is known for its durability, heat-resistance and cost-effectiveness. Because of these qualities, asbestos was traditionally used in a variety of industrial capacities.
For example, until the mid 1970's, asbestos was popular in the construction of buildings, automobiles and automotive parts, ships, weaponry and more.
Mesothelioma in New York City
In New York City, mesothelioma as a result of asbestos exposure is an increasingly common illness. From shipyards to building construction, asbestos was used for decades by countless NYC-based companies. Also, following the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Centers, Lower Manhattan was covered in debris from the collapsed buildings, which were constructed with asbestos-based fireproofing and insulation.
The Word Trade Center Health Registry estimates that close to half a million people were exposed to asbestos as a result of the attacks. Many of these individuals, including first responders and average citizens, have since developed mesothelioma and other respiratory problems as a result of this exposure. In fact, an estimated 70% of those involved in the cleanup and recovery efforts suffer from respiratory illness of some kind. Affected individuals include those from the following professions and walks of life:
- Cleanup and removal crews.
- The NYPD.
- The NYFD.
- Residents of Lower Manhattan.
- EMTs and other emergency personnel.
- Transit workers.
- Individuals employed in Lower Manhattan.
- Construction workers.
- Truck drivers.
What are the Symptoms of Mesothelioma?
Though the symptoms of mesothelioma can vary, the following complications are common among individuals with this illness:
- Painful, persistent cough.
- Pain in the chest or under the ribcage.
- Shortness of breath.
- Unexplained weight loss.
- Dizziness or light headedness.
- Lumps of tissue beneath the skin of the chest.
How is Mesothelioma Treated?
Like other forms of cancer, mesothelioma is usually addressed with a combination of treatments. First of all, in cases of tumors, surgery is often performed with the intention of removing cancerous cells and affected tissues. Next, chemotherapy and/or radiation is administered in order to destroy any remaining cancer cells. Radiation and chemo are also used in cases of inoperable tumors, and are designed to halt or slow the progression of cancerous cells.
For patients with mesothelioma, early detection and treatment are essential to recovery. Unfortunately, once symptoms appear, the disease has often progressed to its later, untreatable stages. However, medical treatments, as well as lifestyle changes and holistic remedies, can reduce discomfort and improve quality of life.
If you are experiencing the symptoms of mesothelioma, or you think you have been exposed to asbestos, talk to your doctor right away.