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AGING CONDITIONS

Mesothelioma

 

Introduction

Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer where malignant cells are found in the mesothelium, a protective sac that covers most of the body’s internal organs. Whilst mesothelioma is certainly not a common aging condition, it is included here as its symptoms are difficult to diagnose, as many are similar to symptoms of common aging conditions.

Most people who develop mesothelioma have worked on jobs where they inhaled asbestos particles, although mesothelioma can also occur due to contact with older types of x-rays and some minerals found in the ground, similar to asbestos.

 

Mesothelium

The mesothelium membrane is composed of two layers of cells:

  1. a layer immediately surrounding the organ
  2. a layer forming a sac around the organ

The mesothelium produces a lubricating fluid that is released between these layers, allowing moving organs such as the heart and the lungs to glide easily against adjacent structures.

Typcial mesotheliums include:

Peritoneum - covers most of the organs in the abdominal cavity. Peritoneal mesothelioma account for 10% to 20%

Pleura - surrounds the lungs and lines the wall of the chest cavity. Pleural mesothelioma. Accounts for 75% of cases

Pericardium - covers and protects the heart. Pericardial mesothelioma is very rare

Tunica vaginalis testis - surrounding the male internal reproductive organs. Very rare

Tunica serosa uteri - covers the internal reproductive organs in women. Very rare

Tumors of the mesothelium can be benign [noncancerous] or malignant [cancerous]). A malignant tumor of the mesothelium is called a malignant mesothelioma. Because most mesothelial tumors are cancerous, malignant mesothelioma is often simply called mesothelioma.

 

Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is cancer of the mesothelium, invading and damaging nearby tissues and organs. These cancer cells can also metastasise, spreading from their original site to other parts of the body. Most cases of mesothelioma begin in the pleura or peritoneum.

Malignant mesothelioma is an uncommon, but no longer rare. It is difficult to diagnose and poorly responsive to therapy.

There are three main types of malignant mesothelioma:

  • epithelioid - 50% to 70% of mesothelioma occurrences. This type has the best prognosis.
  • sarcomatoid type (7%-20%), and
  • the mixed/biphasic type (20%-35%).

Treatment options for all three types are the same.

 

Risks

Previous exposure to asbestos fibers even single exposures to very low doses of fibers can produce serious long-term consequences.

Almost anyone who has inhaled asbestos dust is at risk. This includes a worker's family and friends due to asbestos carried on clothing.

Exposure to asbestos dust can occur at major construction job sites, in shipyards, in industry, and during construction or renovation of commercial buildings.

A history of asbestos exposure at work is reported in about 70 percent to 80 percent of all cases. However, mesothelioma has been reported in some individuals without any known exposure to asbestos.

Since the early 1940s, millions of American workers have been exposed to asbestos dust. This includes: shipyard workers, people who work in asbestos mines and mills, producers of asbestos products, workers in the heating and construction industries, and other tradespeople.

The risk of asbestos-related disease increases with heavier exposure to asbestos and longer exposure time. Not all workers who are heavily exposed develop asbestos-related diseases.

Symptoms of Mesothelioma

Treatment of Mesothelioma

Latest Research and Links

Asbestos

NEXT: Osteoporosis

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