Monday, May 20, 2013

Understanding How Exposure to Asbestos Can Cause Mesothelioma




A couple of months ago, I featured a guest post by Heather who was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a type of cancer with a survival rate of only seven to eight percent, which is caused by asbestos exposure. Asbestos is a substance commonly used in fiber cement boards, packaging materials and mechanical parts in motor vehicles such as brakes and clutch linings.  It can also be found in houses, schools and buildings.  Corrugated cement sheets and side walls may contain asbestos.  However, experts claim that there is no problem as long as the materials are in good condition and will remain intact in which case they will not release asbestos fibers.  To avoid exposure to asbestos in damaged housing materials, do not attempt to DIY.  Have a qualified professional remove and replace materials that contain asbestos. Do not sand, saw or drill holes on asbestos containing materials and asbestos flooring. 

In 2011, asbestos-containing wire gauzes used in public high schools in the Philippines which contain three percent chrysotile asbestos were finally removed, preventing the risk of  exposure of students and teachers.

The following is a post by Sybil, an avid blogger who became aware of mesothelioma when her grandfather contracted it in 2007. She hopes to spread awareness of the disease and in so doing to increase early detection and help victims become survivors. 

When a person has a prolonged exposure to asbestos, her body may develop cancerous cells, which may result in a fatal disease called mesothelioma. Asbestos was once used in the materials used to construct buildings, and although it is not used anymore it still exists in some buildings built around the middle of the twentieth century. While asbestos in good condition is not actually dangerous, as soon as the material is damaged, asbestos fibers are released into the air and can be inhaled or ingested. This is what causes mesothelioma, a fatal cancer that kills several thousand people each year. There are different types of mesothelioma cancers, and the most dangerous one among them is sarcomatoid mesothelioma.

Most Common Symptoms

Some of the common symptoms of mesothelioma are-

-       Respiratory Problems,
-       Small Lumps on Chest,
-       Pain in Chest,
-       Pain while Coughing.
-       Unexpected Weight Loss

A person who has been exposed to asbestos may witness these symptoms anywhere from three to 50 years later. The symptoms are often mistaken for regular aging problems or do not become prominent for too long. The later the diagnoses, the more challenging it is to administer treatments and increase mesothelioma life expectancy.

Diagnosis of Cancer

After the symptoms are recorded and history of exposure to asbestos determined, the next step normally taken by the doctors is to check the whole body. This is normally done with x-rays and then high-end imaging procedures like CT scans and MRIs. (While mesothelioma often begins in the lungs or stomach, by the time it is diagnosed the cancer has often spread to other organs.)

If the obtained images show some significant abnormalities then a biopsy is carried out. The biopsy either confirms or rules out the possibility of a mesothelioma cancer.

Due to the difficulties and complications in the diagnosis, it is always suggested to take two three opinions to completely determine the presence of mesothelioma. If the disease isn’t diagnosed quickly, then the cancerous cells may spread throughout the body, and the patient may have very little chance of survival.

Treatment Options

Technically, mesotheliomatreatment differs from other cancer treatments, but almost all cancer patients usually undergo some kind of surgeries, radiation therapies, and chemotherapy. The administration of these standard procedures purely depends upon where the cancer is located and at which stage it has been diagnosed.

Very Low Survival Rates

Unfortunately, such cancerous cells are extremely resistant to any kind of treatment and the average survival period from diagnosis to death has been recorded as 6-18 months depending on the particular survey.

Only a few lucky patients who are diagnosed early tend to survive, but the survival rate is usually only around 7-8%. There are quite a few treatments available for mesothelioma, but there isn’t a single fail-proof medication that is capable of curing it.
Better to Be Safe
So, if you had been exposed to asbestos, even moderately, and regardless of how long ago, it’s highly recommended to get your body thoroughly checked for any traces of cancerous cells.  

24 comments :

  1. Asbestos are really bad for the health and being exposed with it can harm us all. It is indeed better be safe.

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  2. This is why ASBESTOS is totally banned at the market. Really not food for health.

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  3. oh, this is really scary...
    people should be aware of this

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  4. I personally know of two individuals who died of cancer due to asbestos...
    This is very timely, Marie. It scares me too coz all my grandmother's siblings died of CA and it pays to be cautious.

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  5. I remember this material during our chemistry days. It really gives a negative impact on our health. I also remember the movie "With Honors" wherein one of the cast has a disease caused by asbestos.

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  6. i hope this material is totally eradicated / banned...

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  7. Imagine what people had to suffer then before the ill-effects of asbestos were discovered. We're very fortunate that they found out about it and that steps have been taken to ban asbestos.

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  8. I heard about this from reading class action suits on asbestos. How scary! Good thing it's now banned!

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  9. The survival rate is pretty slim, It's one scary thing. Everyone should be aware:) Thanks for sharing

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  10. I know I have been exposed moderately to asbestos, as our factory roofing has that...I am not sure if it's moderate exposure nga because I have been working here for years. Yaiks! Oh well, that's life hehehe.

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    1. And that is the scary thing, Aileen, cuz even if asbestos is banned (there was a house bill but I am not sure of the extent of the ban. For example, I read somewhere those blue pipes have asbestos and we have them in the house!), old roofing materials, concrete walls and pipes are still made of asbestos and once it breaks down (cuz its old), the fibers will go out and yun daw ang toxic...

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  11. Thanks for sharing this made us aware about the effects of asbestos. I hope that asbestos is really out of the market.

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  12. I never thought it is this dangerous. Thanks for opening my awareness.

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  13. yeah, i've read a lot of this topic online, we should be very careful

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  14. Thanks for sharing, Marie. Another very informative article. People must really be aware of this.

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  15. Thank you for sharing the information. I used to read about asbestos and a mention of it in one of my favorite movies that starred Robin Williams, he got asbestos poisoning. With Honors was the title of the movie.

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    1. Hi, Mys, it was a character played by Joe Pesci (my cousin vinny and one of the bumbling thieves in Home Alone)in With Honors. Oh gosh, I loved that movie...

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  16. Interesting and informative facts.. really scary that it can cause cancer.

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  17. I think most people don't know about this. Thanks for sharing, Marie! This is a very informative post.

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  18. Thanks for this info, everyone should be aware of this

    MomMy Hanny

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  19. I have read a lot about asbestos and sadly a lot of individual is a victim of this chemical..

    Rosemarie/Gven-Rose

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  20. When I was just new to my work, I saw asbestos gloves and even tried then my colleague told me to keep it away. I didn't know it's made of asbestos. Asbestos kasi can resist high temperature so they bought it before to be used in getting the very hot porcelain after ashing. It was not banned yet when they bought that.

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  21. Exposure to asbestos can be extremely dangerous. For people who could be exposed to asbestos I highly recommend asbestos courses to inform people about the dangers. I know I had no idea about the dangers until I started researching.

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  22. Blogs that have quality information like this are as precious as gold. You have given me much to think about in this blog. Thank you.
    Roofing Companies in Sarasota

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