Mesothelioma is a type of cancer of the mesothelial cells which affects those people unlucky enough to have breathed in asbestos or other risk factors for mesothelioma at some point in their past.
Mesothelial cells cover the outer surface of most of our internal organs and is the reason the cancer is so-called. Most often the cancer is associated with the lungs but it can also develop in the abdomen.
The three common forms of mesothelioma are:
Pleural mesothelioma - malignant and affecting the chest
Peritoneal mesothelioma - malignant and affecting the abdomen
Benign mesothelioma - this form is very rarely seen, is non-malignant and affects either the chest or abdomen.
Although mesothelioma mainly affects men, it can also affect women as the asbestos fibres stick to the clothes, shoes, hair and skin. As a result family members of people working with asbestos would likely have been exposed to some degree of asbestos.
Since the disease takes 15+ years to develop the early symptoms of mesothelioma are often mistaken for less severe illnesses. If you think you are experiencing some of the symptoms of the disease it is very important that you mention it to your doctor, particularly if you have ever been in contact with someone (perhaps your father or grandfather) who worked in an asbestos-contaminated environment so that investigations and treatments can begin at the earliest opportunity.
Work environments that are likely to have included the use of asbestos include the shipyard industry, as wll as manufacturing, construction, engineering, insulation, textile, electrical and car industries.
Even in the present day, some industries are still exposed to asbestos risks particularly during the renovation or demolition of buildings containing asbestos.
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