Mesothelioma is one of many cancers that are still considered incurable. The tragedy for mesothelioma victims is that mesothelioma is an entirely preventable disease. Mesothelioma is a cancer of the lining of the lungs, chest or abdomen that is highly aggressive and is resistant to many cancer treatments. The disease is associated with exposure to asbestos. Even small amounts of asbestos and infrequent exposure can create a risk for contracting mesothelioma or other asbestos-related diseases.
Many people diagnosed with “asbestos cancer” are retired workers and veterans who inhaled asbestos dust in the workplace or during their military service. Symptoms of mesothelioma in those groups typically appear 30 years to 50 years after exposure to asbestos.
Common symptoms of pleural mesothelioma include a persistent cough, constant chest pain, shortness of breath, wheezing or hoarseness, repeated problems with pneumonia or bronchitis, as well as fatigue and weight loss.
Mesothelioma remains difficult to treat, and new therapies and methods of delivery of medicine are being researched. Chemotherapy and radiation are the primary methods of treatment and may be combined with surgery for patients whose cancer is diagnosed at a less advanced stage. Patients often take part in clinical trials as researchers look for a breakthrough treatment method.
About 3,000 Americans are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year. The need to find a cure and viable treatment is so critical that a federal resolution was passed designating National Mesothelioma Awareness Day to be observed in the U.S. each year on September 26.