Mesothelioma is a form of cancer forming on the pleura ( of the lung) or abdominal peritoneum, or in rare cases, it can form on the pericardium
(around the lining of the heart). Asbestos dust is often the cause of this condition and workers in the industry are entitled to industrial compensation when this is a work-related illness. In other cases, there may be no work-related history, and some people have caught the disease from having asbestos-lined walls, and ceilings in their house. When renovation occurs causing dust to be inhaled, this is when the problem arises from fibers.
MESOTHELIOMA EARLY SIGNS
Symptoms often don’t present until the disease is well established
One of the problems of mesothelioma is that symptoms often don’t present until the disease is well established. The first signs are often cough and shortness of breath.
Pain in the chest area
Pain in the chest area, extending to the ribs and around the intercostal joints. Tiny fibers of asbestos are breathed into the lungs lodging there, and gradually moving to the pleural lining of the lung. They start off by causing chronic inflammation leading to changes in cell structure ultimately causing cancer. later it will cause fluid accumulation to occur. This type of cancer remains localized and doesn’t move around the body.
Fatigue, caused by insufficient oxygen levels. If you feel tired and have a diagnosis of early mesothelioma, there are things that can be done to help you. Exclude anemia and be sure that you have enough iron in your blood, as iron delivers oxygen to the cells. The other cause is poor oxygenation levels and sometimes you may require oxygen therapy at home, to give you some intermittent oxygen and enable you to carry out activities of daily living.
Wheezing and hoarse voice.
5.Weight -loss and loss of appetite. Because you are unwell, you may have very little interest in eating. Unfortunately, cancer cells take a lot of energy from people suffering from mesothelioma, and it is important that you see a dietitian to help you plan your food intake. You may require some high protein ‘shakes’ and foods that are easily swallowed. Try to eat smaller meals more often, and lots of healthy juices to keep hydrated.
Night Sweats can occur leading to investigation for other disease factors.
Gastrointestinal symptoms, bloating, or nausea. Asbestos exposure has been linked to Gastrointestinal cancers for the last 10 years or more.
If the condition is in the peritoneum, it may cause the person to pass bright red blood in their bowel motions, as the peritoneum bleeds.
Difficulty swallowing. Have protein shakes and smoothies as much as possible.
Vomiting and Constipation
When the condition is in the peritoneum it will sometimes cause vomiting and constipation.
Lack of Energy
Lack of energy may also be another early symptom before anything else manifests.
Chest pain can radiate to the upper arm, leading to symptoms similar to a heart attack.
As weight loss occurs, muscle bulk is also lost leading to the person looking smaller.
Anemia may be present in the blood test and should be immediately investigated as this is a symptom of many diseases, often manifesting before other symptoms.
Fluid build-up in the chest area, pleural effusion. You may have unusual lumps under the skin of your chest. This takes a long time to develop and can often occur from 15-45 years after initial exposure to the disease. In the 1950s many young workers contracted mesothelioma but did not become really sick until they were retiring in the 1990s.
Lower back pain
Lower back pain may occur with peritoneal mesothelioma.
Some people have a low-grade fever all the time, and this is a red flag to any illness, common in mesothelioma. No ‘one’ test can diagnose mesothelioma, so a range of tests are ordered, and then the specialist looks at all the evidence.
Changes To The Lung Tissue
If you have worked in the industry, ask for imaging tests, as the x-rays are likely to reveal problems early. You will then see if there are any changes to the lung tissue.
Blood Test (2018)
German researchers are perfecting a reliable early blood test (2018) It should be now available. When you have a test the doctor is looking for biomarkers in your blood, and if these are found to be mesothelioma early, there are treatments that can help you to remain healthy for longer.
General malaise, feeling that you can’t get out of bed.
If you have mesothelioma you will require an expert legal firm to handle your claim, as this is a complex legal area for those who have worked with asbestos. Friable asbestos was used industrially, while loose-fill was often used in houses. There was a time when it was not known to be dangerous and was sold as ceiling and wall insulation. In many countries, anyone diagnosed with mesothelioma is entitled to compensation, often ‘claims’ result in settlement by the company concerned to avoid trials. If a death is sudden and unexpected a wrongful death lawsuit can be filed by the family when the cause is due to mesothelioma.
WORK HEALTH AND SAFETY GOVERNING ASBESTOS IN THE WORKPLACE
Mesothelioma is such a damaging disease that during the last 20 years legislation has been changed to keep workers safe when handling the product containing Asbestos. There is an onus on the employer to provide the worker with full PPE ( personal protective equipment ) when handling to avoid further cases of mesothelioma in the future. All relevant companies must have mesothelioma insurances in place.
If a homeowner is demolishing a building containing asbestos sheets, strict rules apply as to who can remove it. Neighbors must be warned of the removal so they are not outdoors in case of dust. The removed sheets have to be taken to a special collection point for appropriate disposal.
This is a terrible and totally avoidable disease, affecting so many parts of the body, and at the moment there is no cure. People have been known to get mesothelioma just from doing the laundry of workers exposed to asbestos. So anyone involved in any way needs to be protected from the harmful airborne particles emitted in working with asbestos-related materials. The dangers can’t be overestimated.