What is Pleural Mesothelioma?
Pleural mesothelioma is a rare cancer caused from exposure to asbestos that surrounds the lining of the lungs. The long period that it takes for this cancer to develop (between 20-50 years) makes senior citizens the most at risk group of acquiring pleural mesothelioma.
Asbestos is a naturally-occurring mineral that was found to be heat-resistant years ago. This led manufacturers to use asbestos in all sorts of products to make them fire-proof. Unfortunately, as the damaging effects of asbestos began to become known, many of these companies did not stop using this mineral. It was not until regulations were put in place in the late 1970’s, restricting the use of asbestos, that changes were finally made. By that point however, a lot of damage was already done and people are still paying the consequences for it today. There are still products in many peoples’ houses that have asbestos lurking inside.
Am I at Risk?
Over 80% of mesothelioma cases are senior citizens. More specifically, those most at risk of developing mesothelioma likely worked in a job that was around asbestos or served in the military. Jobs like construction workers, firefighters, and plumbers had and still have a risk of asbestos exposure. Veterans are also considered one of the largest demographics of pleural mesothelioma sufferers due to the military’s reliance on asbestos. The Armed Forces primarily used asbestos in the vehicles and aircraft, but due to the close quarters and its prominence on ships, Navy veterans are at the highest risk.
There are even cases where the families of these workers were exposed to asbestos indirectly from leftover dust on their clothes and developed the cancer years later.
Treatment for pleural mesothelioma is typically either surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, or a multimodal approach that combines 2 or more approaches. Surgery is considered the best strategy if the cancer is caught in the early stages and can improve the prognosis and quality of life. Chemotherapy has also been effective for patients who are not eligible for surgery, increasing their lifespan three-fold. Radiation is also an option. It can be by itself or paired with another, and is best for symptoms of pain and discomfort.
For advanced Stage 4 pleural mesothelioma chemotherapy is typically the best option to prolong life. However, there are emerging treatment options such as immunotherapy and anti-angiogenic therapies that can be recommended. There are even clinical trials that patients can participate in with hopes of finding success in new treatments and giving researches valuable data to find the next breakthrough.
Where to Find Help?
If you are concerned for yourself or a loved one, it is best to seek help as soon as possible. The Pleural Mesothelioma Center is a 100% free resource and service center for people suffering from this horrid disease. They offer all the most up-to-date information on pleural mesothelioma and asbestos as well as staff that work 1-1 with patientns. Their Patient Advocates can help you through the process of seeking treatment or support groups, and can answer any questions you may have. They can be reached by phone at (855) 407-5804.