It is 1am and I hear the television bark, “MESOTHELIOMA!” First thought that came to my mind is, why on earth would a law firm pay for a mesothelioma commercial at 1am, 1:45am… 2am… 2:30am…? Don’t they know that the average age for mesothelioma diagnoses is 59? I thought lawyers are supposed to be smart? Every Mima and Papa I know goes to bed when the sun sets and rises along with it. Anyways, these constant radio ads and late night TV commercials are what got my mind juices flowing, got my dreary eyed self-off the couch and in front of this luminescent screen to put pen to paper, well these days fingertips to water-cut plastic to write this blog post. So in some ways I suppose I have those annoyingly abhorrent commercials to thank, well that and the fact that my roommate snores like a yeti with a megaphone pinned to its face but I digress. Here we go, mesothelioma explained in 7 minutes!
What is mesothelioma? If by chance you were as oblivious as I when I decided to start investigating all this late night hoopla, you likely started with that question. To make things clearer mesothelioma cancer is a terminal disease caused by exposure to asbestos. Watch this 1:37 min clip to get a quick & strong understanding of mesothelioma. Oh and this is not to be added to the 7 minute mesothelioma explanation claim I made in the title. This is just a bonus feature because I like you guys.
There is a possibility of developing 1 of 4 types of mesothelioma by either inhaling or ingesting airborne tiny asbestos fibers. They are so microscopic, in light of the fact that we are just two weeks away from Halloween; the scary part is… that if you ever do breathe in or inhale asbestos, you would never even know you did. Furthermore, mesothelioma is incredibly hard to detect once it starts to develop in your body owing to the fact that it takes nearly 20-30 years to develop! Talk about longevity for a disease to set in. Over that immense period of time, you may or may not even notice the subtle warning signs of this fatal disease as the symptoms associated with it are commonly misdiagnosed as the everyday cold. It is for this elusiveness that asbestos was given its moniker the, “hidden killer”.
The “hidden killer” actually has a multitude of designations but this is not on purpose. The cause of this “extensive list” of names is due in large part to a lack of informed understanding and [more likely] people just skipping one too many English classes. Is the name “Asbestos” from the English language? Not sure, don’t quote me on my last knee-slapper.
First off you have your common misspellings: Abestos, asbesto, aspestos, and aspestis…
Then you have your uncommon misspellings (now these are impressive): Asbetos, absestos, aspestus, asbestus, and asbestis…
Question of the day: Which way do you think our (cough) wonderful (cough) presidential candidates would spell it?
But the most common misspelling of them all… *drumroll please*… and oddly the farthest away from a letter-to-letter comparison is… espestice. In defense to all whom have misspelled asbestos in the past, I think if I never saw the word, I would’ve spelled it, “aspestos”. Oh give me a break, at least I made it to the common misspellings! 🙂
Before our IQ gets any lower, here are the 4 types of the “espestice” caused cancer:
- Pleural Mesothelioma – (lungs) Most common at 70-75% of all mesothelioma diagnoses.
- Peritoneal Mesothelioma – (abdomen) 2nd most common
- Pericardial Mesothelioma – (heart)
- Testicular Mesothelioma – (testicles) Least common and AKA, “The Lance Armstrong”… too soon?
All jokes aside, his contribution to raising testicular cancer awareness is 2nd to none and I applaud him for that. LIVE STRONG (and take steroids). I’m kidding.
As mentioned earlier, mesothelioma is a terminal disease. There is not a single treatment method currently available that can wholly cure this completely disabling cancer. There are however 4 traditional forms of treatment that are used to remove or reduce the amount of tumors present, prolong life expectancy, and improve the overall quality of life of the patient. There are also numerous alternative treatments that are said to do wonders for those afflicted by mesothelioma. To learn more, visit the next 3 resources that talk all about the mesothelioma treatment options available, the common mesothelioma treatments and the complementary mesothelioma therapies.
Okay, what in the actually heck? Those 3 health resources above just listed about 20 different treatments and therapies, how is someone suppose to know which treatment / therapy would work the best? The answer is, we just don’t know for sure… but there is a system used by most oncologists and mesothelioma specialists which narrows down the options.
Mesothelioma doctors use four primary stages to determine the severity of the diagnosis. These mesothelioma stages determine the extent of cancer within the body. Stages are expressed by roman numerals: l, ll, lll, and lV. The lower the stage numbers the more treatment options that are available and the better the chances are for long-term survival. It is an important assessment tool because once the doctor knows what stage of cancer the patient is in, they can more effectively develop a treatment plan.
Me (insomniac blogger): “I see a hand up, what is your question?”
You (attentive reader): “Whoa…Whoa…Whoa…Nelly, pump the breaks, back it up a sec. Earlier you (insomniac blogger) stated that mesothelioma was very difficult to detect so how on earth is someone suppose to prepare to take the necessary precautions when all these asbestos fibers, that are impossible to see, are just floating around in the air? Not to mention that mesothelioma is extremely difficult to distinguish from the common cold!
Answer: By having the knowledge of widely used asbestos products, careers susceptible to the most asbestos exposure, common asbestos locations and materials, and lastly yearly mesothelioma screenings.
First you need to ask yourself, “Self, did you grow up next to or work for a company that used asbestos materials?” Use these two sources if you need help answering that question.
If you grew up around these materials or worked for any of the companies listed in the resources mentioned above, yearly mesothelioma screenings is highly recommended. Veterans, firefighters, construction workers, miners, and shipyard employees are at the highest risk of exposure.
Once you acknowledge that fact that you might have been exposed to asbestos at some point in your life, a general awareness of possible mesothelioma symptoms would be a great addition to your arsenal in this battle against this fatal disease. Remember, mesothelioma is hard to diagnose in its early stages so symptoms are usually overlooked. The common warning signs of mesothelioma as it is developing are as follows:
- Pleural Mesothelioma
- Chest pain
- Faint or hoarse breathing sounds
- Shortness of breath
- Dry cough and/or wheezing
- Pleural effusions
- Coughing up blood
- Body aches
- Blood clotting disorders
- Peritoneal Mesothelioma
- Abdominal distention
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal swelling and/or tenderness
- Feeling of fullness
- Bowel obstruction
- Pericardial Mesothelioma
- Difficulty breathing
- Chest and heart pains
- Testicular Mesothelioma
- Lump in the testes (extremely rare, but never to be ruled out)
As you can see, these symptoms are pretty mild, except for the coughing up blood, which sounds terrible, and I’m pretty sure you would notice it but nonetheless being aware of your possible exposure to asbestos and to what degree of the exposure may just be your best weapon against asbestos.
If by chance, you unfortunately did not catch mesothelioma in its developing stages and it has advanced to stage 3 or stage 4 mesothelioma, the prognosis will not be favorable. That is why it is VITAL to catch it early on. The survival rate after a diagnosis of mesothelioma in the later stages is roughly 1 to 2 years. Although this may seem to be a hopeless scenario, treatments are improving every day. There are countless cases where the patient survived their mesothelioma prognosis for more than 5 years after initially diagnosed.
Scientists and researches are constantly searching for a mesothelioma cure. With S.M.A.R.T. (Surgery for Mesothelioma after Radiation Therapy) being added as a multimodal treatment and having it be considered as a huge potential breakthrough, finding a cure is no longer an unforeseen mission. There is still hope. TreatMesothelioma.org is dedicated to the assistance and guidance of asbestos and mesothelioma victims around the world and their mission is clear. To instill this hopeful optimism during these unbearable times by providing palliative care and comprehensive information through their website which offers a ton of great information AND educational mesothelioma videos. Anyone suffering from asbestos and mesothelioma could benefit from the dedication, commitment, and resources that TreatMesothelioma.org provides.
- What is Mesothelioma? (educational video)