Mesothelioma Awareness Day

In honor of the 10th annual Mesothelioma Awareness Day (September 26th), I am dedicating this Win Win For A Cause blog to the topic of Mesothelioma, an aggressive cancer that affects the membrane lining of the lungs and abdomen.   The primary cause and risk factor for mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos.


Prolonged inhalation of asbestos fibers can cause serious and fatal illnesses

Since late 19th century, manufacturers and builders used asbestos because of its desirable physical properties:  sound absorption, average tensile strength, its resistance to fire, heat, electrical and chemical damage, and affordability.  These desirable properties made asbestos a very widely used material, and its use continued to grow throughout most of the 20th century until the carcinogenic (cancer-causing) effects of asbestos dust caused its effective demise as a mainstream construction and fireproofing material in most countries. However around 2 million tons of Asbestos are still mined per year as of 2009, mainly in Russia (50%), China, Brazil, Kazakhstan and Canada (9% to 14% each).  By the beginning of the 20th century, concerns were beginning to be raised, which escalated in severity during the 1902s and 1930s. By the 1980s and 1990s when mesothelioma diagnosis increased, asbestos trade and use started to become banned outright, phased out, or heavily restricted in an increasing number of countries.

Incidence of mesothelioma is still quite rare, with only 2,500-3,000 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.

Mesothelioma Cancer

Mesothelioma, an aggressive cancer that affects the membrane lining of the lungs and abdomen

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.  Symptoms of mesothelioma include chest pain, chronic cough, effusions of the chest and abdomen, and the presence of blood in lung fluid.

Understanding how cancer cells develop is important for doctors and health researchers to create targeted treatments for patients. A broader awareness of Mesothelioma will generate more research and, hopefully, an eventual cure for this terrible disease.  Read more:



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