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Mesothelioma And Its History

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


Malignant mesothelioma, commonly said Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that develops from transformed cells originating in the mesothelium, the protective lining that covers many of the internal organs of the body. According to mesothelioma.com,"It is an aggressive cancer affecting the membrane lining of the lungs and abdomen." It is the most serious of all asbestos-related diseases. Although uncommon, mesothelioma cancer is no longer considered rare and it is usually caused by exposure to asbestos.
The most common anatomical site for the development of mesothelioma is the pleura (the outer lining of the lungs and internal chest wall), but it can also arise in the peritoneum (the lining of the abdominal cavity), and the pericardium (the sac that surrounds the heart), or the tunica vaginalis (a sac that surrounds the testis). Making a correct mesothelioma diagnosis is particularly difficult for doctors because the disease often presents with symptoms that mimic other common ailments. There is no known cure for mesothelioma, but treatments such as surgery and chemotherapy have helped to improve the typical mesothelioma prognosis.
Pleural mesothelioma (affecting the lung’s protective lining in the chest cavity) represents about three quarters of all mesothelioma incidence. Peritoneal mesothelioma which affects the abdominal cavity and pericardial mesothelioma, which affects the cardiac cavity, comprise the remainder. Testicular mesothelioma is extremely rare and is typically presents with metastases of the peritoneal variety. There are three recognized mesothelioma cell-types. Between 50 and 70% of all mesotheliomas are of the epithelial variety. While prognosis is generally poor, it is considered less aggressive than sarcomatoid mesothelioma and biphasic mesothelioma, which comprise the remainder of cell type diagnoses. The cavities within the body encompassing the chest, abdomen, and heart are surrounded by a membrane of cells known as the mesothelium. Mesothelial cells assist in general organ functions. The mesothelium is particularly important to organs that are commonly in motion, such as expansion or contraction of the lungs, stomach, or heart. Lubrication from the mesothelial cells allows free range of motion within the body. The mesothelium of the chest, abdomen, and cardiac cavity are called the pleura, the peritoneum, and the pericardium, respectively. Each of these groupings of mesothelial cells are extremely critical to the functions of the body structures which they encompass. Malignancies (cancerous tumors) occurring within the mesothelial membranes is Mesothelioma.
History of Mesothelioma:
While tumors of the mesothelium were first recognized in the late 18th century, it was not until the middle of the 20th century that this particular cancer was studied and examined with more detail. It was at this time where suspicions of the cancer’s causal relationship with asbestos exposure became more substantiated. A joint research venture through the Department of Thoracic Surgery at the University of the Witswater and/Johannesburg General Hospital in South Africa provided the most compelling evidence of the nexus between asbestos exposure and the development of pleural mesothelioma.
How many people are affected by Mesothelioma?
Incidence of mesothelioma is still quite rare, with only 2,500-3000 diagnoses in the United States each year. There was a spike in reported diagnoses between 1970 and 1984, which has been attributed to the latency period between diagnosis and the height of industrial exposures, which occurred roughly 40-60 years prior to this time. Exposure was common in nearly all industries but was particularly common in the WWII-era military industrial cycle, including Navy Shipyards.
Who are Mesothelioma's victims?
Although this cancer is much more common in men over the age of 60 (largely attributed to the industrial exposures within male-dominated industries), mesothelioma in women and children has been described as well. Mesothelioma causes for diagnosis in women and children are mainly attributed to secondary exposure to asbestos, as it was not uncommon for men to bring asbestos back into the home on their body or clothing if proper cleaning facilities were not available on site.
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