Mesothelium is a term that refers to the membrane or lining that covers many internal body organs. The mesothelium is known as pleura when it covers the lungs.
In lung mesothelioma, the cells forming the membrane begin to divide uncontrollably, and become quite large in number. They then cause damage to the surrounding tissues and organs. Lung mesothelioma is rare but it can be a deadly disease.
Causes of lung mesothelioma
The most common cause of lung mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos. Asbestos is the major risk factor that can cause this disease. 80% of the sufferers of lung mesothelioma have been exposed to asbestos. Men are more likely to be affected by lung mesothelioma. The risk seems to be increasing with the age.
Continuous exposure to asbestos particles suspended in the air can lead to asbestosis. Asbestosis then increases the risk of lung mesothelioma. Construction and factory workers who have on-the-job exposure to asbestos particles are hugely at risk of lung mesothelioma. Asbestos is widely used in mining and milling plants, shipyards, construction industries, automotive repair, boiler making, insulation, and pipefitting. All these workers exposed to asbestos are at heavy risk of developing the condition known as lung mesothelioma.
The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) have made wearing safety masks compulsory for the asbestos workers. This has led to decrease in the incidence of lung mesothelioma.
Family members of people exposed to on-the-job asbestos particles are also at increased risk of contracting lung mesothelioma. This is thought to happen because the workers bring home asbestos dust in their hair and clothes.
Occupationally exposed asbestos and construction workers need to undergo frequent medical check-ups to monitor any conditions that may lead to lung mesothelioma. An early diagnosis can help to prolong the life. But when lung mesothelioma is confirmed, the death rate is usually 100% within a period of five years.
Symptoms of lung mesothelioma
The symptoms of pleural mesothelioma or lung mesothelioma are as follows:
Shortness of breath – breath of an affected patient can come and go in short bursts and there may be difficulty breathing.
Loss of appetite – The appetite of the patient falls down for no obvious reason.
Loss of weight – Weight loss occurs for no visible reason.
Lung infection – There may be some pain in the lungs as the cancerous cells collide with other internal organs.
Wheezing – This condition may be confused with asthma, and common cold, so one needs to be careful.
Fatigue – The patient may feel tired and fatigued even when he or she has done little amount of work.
Coughing up blood – Blood may appear in the sputum that is coughed up.
Shortness of breath – Breathing difficulties including able to breath only in short gasps through the mouth rather than through the nose.
Chronic coughing – The coughing can seem to get worse over a period of time
Chest pain – The lungs may emanate pain due to the cancer growth in them.
These are the common causes and symptoms of the deadly disease namely lung mesothelioma.