Mesothelioma Treatments Prevention

Mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer affecting the layer of tissue covering the internal organs, and the internal surface of the body cavities containing the organs. It can affect several body systems, including:

  • Abdominal organs (peritoneal mesothelioma)
  • Heart (pericardial mesothelioma)
  • Lungs (pleural mesothelioma).

Although it can be difficult to diagnose, control of environmental factors can help to prevent mesothelioma.

What are the Causes of Mesothelioma?

Exposure to asbestos, a naturally-occurring mineral that has seen widespread use in construction and manufacturing applications, is the cause of mesothelioma. When asbestos materials are moved or disturbed, they can release small particles into the air, which can be inhaled or ingested. Once in the body, they become embedded in the mesothelium of the lungs or stomach, and eventually lead to the growth and division of abnormal, cancerous cells.

The Environmental Protection Agency prohibited new uses of asbestos in 1989. Although it is now regulated, asbestos continues to be used in some products. It also remains in some items and buildings constructed before regulations were put in place.

Unfortunately, mesothelioma can be very difficult to diagnose. Symptoms of mesothelioma don’t usually appear for decades after asbestos exposure. Late diagnosis generally means a poor prognosis and survival rate for individuals with mesothelioma. You should report any past asbestos exposure to your doctor. If you have early symptoms, knowledge of asbestos exposure can alert your doctor to the possibility of this rare cancer. Even if you have no current symptoms of mesothelioma, your doctor will know to monitor you to see if they are beginning to develop.

How Can I Prevent Mesothelioma?

You can often prevent mesothelioma by limiting or eliminating asbestos exposure, so it is important to take measures to protect yourself. Exposure to asbestos can occur in several different places:

  • Home: If you suspect that your home may contain asbestos, you can contact professionals who can test your home, and remove any asbestos materials if they find any.
  • Public places: Older public buildings may also contain asbestos in roofing, flooring, or insulation. If you spend time in an older building (office, school, etc.) that you suspect may contain asbestos, you can contact the local authorities to encourage testing of the building.
  • Workplace: Workplace asbestos exposure is the most common cause of mesothelioma: Exposure is often more direct, and in higher amounts than in home or public buildings. Heaviest exposure is often due to construction or removal of asbestos from older buildings.

Laws enforced by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) require employers to provide a workplace free of health hazards. Regulations may include regular testing of work environments for unacceptable levels of asbestos, maximum exposure allotments and other safety precautions, such as respirator use.

Though asbestos use is now regulated, it hasn’t yet been banned completely. You must be aware of asbestos, and take measures to prevent mesothelioma if you are being exposed.

Resources

Environmental Protection Agency Staff. (1999). Asbestos ban and phase out. Retrieved January 4, 2010, from the EPA Web site: http://www.epa.gov/asbestos/pubs/ban.html.

Mesothelioma Treatment Centers Staff. (n.d.). How to prevent mesothelioma cancer. Retrieved January 4, 2010, from the Mesothelioma Treatment Centers Web site: http://www.mesotheliomatreatmentcenters.org/mesothelioma-cancer/prevention/.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Staff. (2006). Assigned protection factors; Final rule – 71:50121-50192. Retrieved January 4, 2010, from the OSHA Web site: http://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=FEDERAL_REGISTER