Mesothelioma and Asbestos: The Facts

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Mesothelioma is not a household name, but it should be. Anyone who has been in contact with asbestos, either as an occupational hazard, or in their domestic life should be aware of the dangers of this disease.


Photo Credit: Daryl Mitchell

Mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer that affects the lung, chest cavity and the abdomen, although it is important to know that not all three can be affected at the same time.

What Are The Symptoms?

  • Pain in the lower back or the side of the chest
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sweating and high temperatures
  • A persistent cough
  • Losing more than 10% of your weight when not dieting
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • A hoarse or husky voice

Sadly, the symptoms as outlined above often mirror other illnesses, meaning that many people mistake them as less serious illnesses. The most common symptoms of mesothelioma can include a dry, hacking cough that will not disappear, regardless of treatments and medications that are taken. Other symptoms include shortness of breath and abdominal pain.

Symptoms that are based on the type of asbestos cancer can be vague, and as aforementioned, can be mistaken for other illnesses. The sad fact is, that if not treated accordingly, the illness will progress into a later stage and will be much more difficult to treat. It is imperative that the early signs are recognised so that they can be treated effectively.

Of course, asbestos related cancers are incredibly difficult to stop. However, if you have been subjected to asbestos, then it is important to see your doctor to ensure that you are safe and well.

If you have been exposed to asbestos through work, you may be entitled to claim against your employer. Mesothelioma law suits are sadly, all too common, so do not feel as if you are alone and that you cannot claim compensation.

Continuing Symptoms:

Due to the nature of asbestos, it can take a long time for the symptoms of mesothelioma to become apparent and noticeable after exposure to the material. As previously mentioned, due to the symptoms being similar to that of other illnesses, diagnosis can take longer than one would hope.

Small, noticeable signs of the illness tend to become apparent within 20-50 years of exposure to asbestos, meaning that the cancer can take decades to develop within a person’s body.

Facts and Statistics:

There are many important factors to remember if you have been exposed to asbestos and are worried about mesothelioma:

Only 2 to 10 percent of people who have been exposed to asbestos will develop this disease

The incidence of mesothelioma is currently in decline in the United States and increasing in Australia, Europe and Japan. The incidence has peaked in the United States, but not worldwide. However, should you live outside of the United States; there is still no need to panic.

In the USA alone, doctors diagnose 2000 people alone with mesothelioma, which is a relatively small number of people

Please note that all information in this guide should not act as a replacement for expert medical advice. If you have any of the symptoms or problems as outlined above, seek the advice of a doctor.