Mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer that is typically caused by exposure to asbestos. It’s an “aggressive, malignant cancer caused when inhaled asbestos fibers lodge in the lining of the lungs (pleural), abdomen (peritoneal), or heart (pericardial),” writes Asbestos.com.
After a person ingests asbestos, it can change their DNA, causing cells to divide out of control, which leads to cancer. However, it can also be attributed to zeolites, radiation, SV40 virus, or genetics. While this type of cancer might sound rare and is not often heard about, according to the American Cancer Society, there are roughly 3,000 new cases of mesothelioma recorded each year in the United States.
To get better informed on the topic, here’s an in-depth look at the staging process and what to expect during each stage of mesothelioma…
1. Different Types of Mesothelioma
There are four different types of mesothelioma, but pleural is the most common form. It accounts for about 75-percent of all cases, says Asbestos.com. Each type of mesothelioma is named after where it is located in the body. Pleural mesothelioma forms in the outer lining of the lungs and inner lining of the chest cavity. The first signs of pleural mesothelioma are chest pain and shortness of breath. Peritoneal mesothelioma is the second most common type of mesothelioma and accounts for about 20- to 25-percent of all cases. It originates in the abdomen, affecting the protective lining of the abdominal cavity.
Pericardial is the third type of mesothelioma and is extremely rare. It begins in the membrane surrounding the heart, also known as the pericardium. It may cause chest pain, an irregular heartbeat, pericardial thickening, and pericardial effusion (fluid buildup). The last form, metastatic mesothelioma, is the most severe. This form of mesothelioma is when the cancer has spread throughout the body from wherever it originated, causing a slew of very severe and serious symptoms such as coughing up blood and nerve dysfunction.
Most mesothelioma patients are 75-years of age or older, because it can take anywhere from 20- to 50-years after their first exposure to asbestos for mesothelioma to appear. More often than not, Asbestos.com explains that the patients are men who worked in heavy industry and construction which is where asbestos exposure is most commonly found.