Posts Tagged ‘contracting mesothelioma’

Mesothelioma Treatment: Nutrition

Thursday, December 15th, 2011

When undergoing treatment for mesothelioma, nutrition can play a vital role in the outcome of and the quality of life during treatment. Eating foods high in protein, along with fruits, vegetables and whole grains can help prepare the body for the stress of treatments. Unfortunately, mesothelioma patients commonly experience a loss of appetite during mesothelioma treatment due to effects of chemotherapy or the disease itself.

According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), certain practices can aid in this process. Because tastebuds often change during chemotherapy, foods may lose their former appeal or even become unpleasant. To avoid a loss of nutrients, the ACS suggests trying alternative foods such as plant-based foods like peas and beans that may be more palatable. Limiting certain foods and beverages, such as alcohol and pickled and cured foods, can help as well. The ACS also recommends eating five colorful servings of fruits and vegetables each day, including dark green and deep yellow vegetables, as these contain phytochemicals that are very beneficial nutrients. In addition, maintaining as much physical acidity as possible will aid in overall health and well-being. Finally, cooking large meals and storing plenty of food in the pantry and freezer will help reduce overall work and stress sometimes involved in meal preparation.

Seeking support can also make a big difference. Among the various mesothelioma and asbestos resources, nutritionists can be very helpful for patients who are going through mesothelioma therapy. Nutritionists can help design a specific plan to help prevent malnutrition and muscle and bone wasting. A good nutrition plan may also help patients handle aggressive treatments, fight infection, and maintain the strength and energy needed for a better quality of life during and after treatment. Finally, a support structure of friends and neighbors can be vital to implementing a nutrition plan. If you or someone you love has mesothelioma, don’t be afraid to ask for support for assistance with tasks like shopping and meal preparation. This can provide a way for people who care to offer much needed support.


Chrysotile Asbestos and Vermiculite

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

In recent years, Do-It-Yourself home improvement projects have become more popular. Homeowners are using the Internet to educate themselves on how to do anything from electrical work and small plumbing projects to drywall repair. Unfortunately, many homeowners are unaware of the potential risks of exposure to asbestos. While some homes today do contain some asbestos, little attention is given to the potential dangers because undisturbed, asbestos-linked materials may pose little or no risk to health.

According to the EPA, 70% of all vermiculite sold in the US between 1919 and 1990 came from a mine in Libby, Montana, which was later discovered to be contaminated with asbestos. When tearing down walls or working in the attic, disturbing vermiculite insulation may result in exposure to asbestos. If you have a question about whether your insulation is vermiculite, visit the EPA’s website on vermiculite, where they have photos showing the various forms of vermiculite insulation.

Some older homes contain vinyl floor tiles, which also contain chrysotile asbestos. When left alone, this form of asbestos poses little risk, because it is sealed inside the mastic, or adhesive matrix. However, when these vinyl floor tiles are removed without proper precautions, asbestos may be released into the air. When taking on a DIY project that involves the use of mesothelioma-linked materials, it is also important to consider asbestos disposal.

There are, in fact, many uses of asbestos in construction materials. Asbestos is still used as an additive to some cement mixes, as well as certain roofing tiles. With DIY projects on the rise, people working in older homes may inadvertently damage an asbestos-containing material. For that reason, it is critical that all DIY projects start with research and planning. If you have any questions about mesothelioma or the uses of asbestos, visit our mesothelioma and asbestos FAQ page.


Other Asbestos-Related Diseases

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

Mesothelioma, a cancer of the pleura (or lining of the lung) which can be caused by exposure to asbestos, is often times known as an asbestos-related disease. But what about the other asbestos-related diseases? Although Mesothelioma is, generally speaking, the more severe of these diseases, other asbestos-related diseases can pose serious risks to health and can also indicate a risk for asbestos-related cancer. So, what are these other diseases and what are their symptoms?

According to the Mayo Clinic, asbestosis is a progressive disease of the lungs that causes rales (crackling) and wheezing, due to the development of fibrosis or excessive connective tissue in the lungs. A persistent dry cough and even clubbing of the fingers can also accompany asbestosis. Like Mesothelioma, asbestosis may spread to other vital organs. Although asbestosis is irreversible, the progression of asbestosis and the resulting damage can be mitigated by proper treatment. Treatment focusing on relieving symptoms may include the use of oxygen or medications similar to those used by asthma patients. Deaths caused strictly from asbestosis are uncommon. However, asbestosis is an indicator for the risk of more serious cancers such as mesothelioma and lung cancer.

Asbestos warts are another type of asbestos-related disease. These warts develop when callus-like growths form over asbestos fibers that are stuck under the skin. The warts typically itch. They are benign and do respond well to treatment, but like asbestosis, can indicate a source of larger concern.

Pleural plaques are small calcified or fibrous areas that form on the pleura and can be another asbestos-related illness. These plaques are not dangerous, unless they lead to pleural thickening. Pleural thickening can cause lung damage, but alone, is generally not considered deadly.

If you are showing symptoms that concern you, it is important that you schedule an appointment with your doctor. If you have other questions concerning exposure to asbestos or asbestos-related diseases, visit our Mesothelioma FAQ or read some of our Mesothelioma articles.


Diagnosing Mesothelioma Symptoms

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

How do you know you have developed mesothelioma? The likelihood is there’s a good chance you won’t; only a doctor can diagnose mesothelioma. Even so, symptoms of mesothelioma may vary depending on severity of the illness and location of the disease and are often confused with signs of other illnesses. Many people find that understanding how mesothelioma works can be helpful.

There are often considered to be three types of mesothelioma: pleural mesothelioma, peritoneal mesothelioma and benign mesothelioma. Each type has its own characteristics. Pleural mesothelioma is the most common form of this potentially deadly disease. Up to 75 percent of mesothelioma cases are instances of pleural mesothelioma. This type affects the pleura or lining of the lungs. Symptoms can be confused with the flu, lung cancer and even broken ribs.

Peritoneal mesothelioma affects the peritoneum, the abdominal lining that helps contain your digestive organs. Symptoms can include increased abdominal size, abdominal pain, digestive problems, weight loss, fever or fatigue. Because these symptoms are often associated with other illnesses, symptoms can be misleading here as well.

Benign mesothelioma is non-cancerous. The symptoms of benign mesothelioma, although generally considered less dangerous, can also be life threatening, especially if left untreated. The presence of benign mesothelioma may be an indicator for other serious problems. It also signifies likely exposure to asbestos, which could lead to the presence of mesothelioma in other areas of your body. You can find out more about asbestos and mesothelioma in our mesothelioma articles and our mesothelioma blog.

The cellular structure of malignant mesothelioma also has three possible classifications: epitheliod, sarcomatoid and mixed/biphasic. Epitheliod is the most common of the three and occurs in the outer layer of the organs and tissues in the body. Sarcomatoid mesothelioma, less common and more serious, occurs at a deeper tissue level and can affect bone, muscle, cartilage and fat.

If you have been exposed to asbestos or think you may have mesothelioma, you may want to schedule an appointment with your doctor. He or she may take any of several courses of action if mesothelioma is suspected. These could include a physical exam, fluid collection or scans. Methods of diagnosis vary from doctor to doctor. You may decide to get a second opinion or ask your doctor about other tests available. Being inquisitive about the method and accuracy of diagnosis can be life saving and help bring you peace of mind.

If you would like more information about mesothelioma diagnosis and mesothelioma treatments, call 1-888-370-0121.


Asbestos Exposure: Tornado Clean-Up

Friday, June 17th, 2011

In the wake of this season’s tornados, countless families and businesses are faced with the realities of dealing with demolition and debris removal. Even in normal conditions, asbestos abatement entails a controlled and thorough process. While mesothelioma prevention and asbestos remediation can be expensive, there are resources available for virtually every project. Individuals can work with state-lisenced contractors to properly repair or remove asbestos before the materials are disturbed by demolition or construction. Typically, property owners are very willing to protect themselves and others from possible exposure by taking these important steps in asbestos disposal and the disposal of other hazardous materials. But this may not be the case when the difficult process of disaster clean-up begins.

According to Alabama’, an NBC affliate, in light of disaster, homeowners may be tempted to shrug their shoulders at exposure to asbestos and other harmful materials, despite the possible link to diseases such as mesothelioma. This attitude is understandable, considering the overwhelming task at hand. But regardless of the natural human urge to move forward with disaster recovery, city institutions, contractors and property owners have a responsibility to protect citizens from further harm by additional exposure.

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, in these cases, the primary role of FEMA and the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is to assist local authorities in determining how best to implement their plans for removal and disposal. They do strongly encourage communities who are considering burying, stockpiling or burning potentially hazardous materials to contact the DEP before moving forward. This is a critical step in mesothelioma prevention and the prevention of other diseases linked to exposure of building materials.

The post-disaster clean-up process will likely be challenging for homeowners, regardless whether they hire contractors or choose to do some of the work on their own. But FEMA offers its support and strongly advises individuals not to clean up potentially contaminated materials without assistance. For assistance: FEMA Disaster Field Office Environmental Liaison Officer, or the Hazardous Materials and Oil Spills National Response Center, 1-800-424-8802.

Pneumonectomy and Extrapleural Pneumonectomy

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

Mesothelioma is a form of cancer affecting the membrane that covers and protects various internal organs of the body (mesothelium). The mesothelium comprises two layers of particular cells known as mesothelial cells. One layer directly surrounds an organ forming a protective sac, while the other lines body cavities, providing oil like lubrication within the body. The most common type of mesothelioma cancer affects the membrane, or sac, lining the lungs (pleura). Other, less common areas include the membrane of the stomach (peritoneum) and the membrane lining the heart (pericardium).

A pneumonectomy is a surgical removal of an entire lung and is used as a cancer treatment. Pneumonectomy may fall into one of two categories: traditional pneumonectomy, resulting in the removal of the diseased lung and extrapleural pneumonectomy, involving removal of the diseased lung as well as areas of the diaphragm and other tissues.

Extrapleural pneumonectomy is typically determined as a surgery of last resort with a goal of eradicating a majority of the cancer cells. Surgeons usually only perform this type of surgery on patients who are in the early stages of mesothelioma cancer, before the cancer has a chance to metastasize, spreading to lymph nodes or invading surrounding tissues and organs. Extrapleural pneumonectomy surgery candidates typically need to be in relatively good health — with good lung and heart function — because removal of an entire lung will increase strain on the heart and remaining lung. They also usually need to be strong and healthy enough to withstand the demands of major surgery and the healing it will require.

In some cases, diagnosis of mesothelioma cancer does not occur until a patient reaches a critical Stage 3 or 4, reducing the chances for this type of treatment. For those who are eligible, extrapleural pneumonectomy may slow or halt the progression of the disease, help ease breathing and improve quality of life. Extrapleural pneumonectomy patients treated with a combination of extrapleural pneumonectomy, radiation and chemotherapy may experience increased life spans of months or, in some cases, years.


Pleurodesis and Pleurectomy

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

In the last few weeks, we’ve discussed some basic information on what cancer is and various treatment options specific to mesothelioma cancer patients. In addition to radiation and chemotherapy, surgery is a potential treatment option for this aggressive form of cancer that could possibly result from exposure to asbestos materials. Surgical treatment for mesothelioma may involve different methods or procedures depending on the specifics of the diagnosis.

While there is no known cure for mesothelioma cancer, sometimes surgery may help alleviate some of the pain and complications resulting from this vicious disease. For example, certain patients experience difficulty breathing due to excess build up of fluid around the lungs or abdominal area. Excess fluid build-up can squeeze the lungs, making breathing uncomfortable and even painful.

Palliative type surgeries aim to relieve mesothelioma symptoms by draining the excess fluid. Pleurodesis is another type of surgery in which talc, a mineral silicate, is inserted into the small lining that cushions the lungs in order to help mitigate fluid collection over the long-term.

A pleurectomy is a class of mesothelioma surgery where the surgeon removes a tumor and/or the lining of the lungs. This kind of surgery sometimes accompanies radiation or chemotherapy to help control remaining cancerous tissues. Pleurectomy is not a cure; however, it may help improve the patient’s quality of life and easing pain. Another type of surgery is pneumonectomy, which involves removing the lung, the lining around it and some of the support tissues. This surgery typically occurs with the most drastic cancer cases in an attempt to relieve the pain and discomfort associated with mesothelioma.

Surgery and other treatments for mesothelioma can sometimes be uncomfortable and quite extensive. With these surgical options and other selected treatments, medical professionals seek to do everything possible to make a positive impact on the patient’s overall health and quality of life.


Second-Hand Asbestos Exposure

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

Mesothelioma is well-known for the insidious way in which it manifests itself.  Many contemporary mesothelioma causes find their origin in some sort of  asbestos exposure.  Asbestos exposure usually happens in some sort of commercial context.  That’s because a host of industries, notably the fields of shipbuilding and construction, used to employ the mineral for a variety of purposes, such as effective insulation for ships and buildings.

Part of what makes asbestos such an effective insulation material is its characteristic, nearly feathery structure, which traps significant amounts air and makes heat transfer from one side of asbestos to another more difficult.  Unfortunately, this fibrous, low-density structure also means certain kinds of asbestos become airborne very easily when disturbed.  Once airborne, it’s very easy for asbestos fibers to get inhaled, where they embed themselves in the pleural lining of the lungs.  After a latency period, lasting anywhere from 10 to 50 years, mesothelioma manifests itself.

Though inhalation of asbestos fibers by workers charged with handling it is a common way people get exposed, it’s by no means the only way.  Asbestos fibers can also be ingested.  They can also settle on the clothes of workers and be transported, which is where sad cases of second-hand asbestos exposure can occur.

Such second-hand asbestos exposure can be the result of a loved one of the worker handling that worker’s clothes by, say, washing them, but it can really happen in any number of situations.  Basically, all that needs to happen is for the asbestos fibers on that person’s clothing to be disturbed, become airborne, and become inhaled, a tragic sequence of events.

Of course, another way people not directly involved in handling asbestos can contract asbestos-derived mesothelioma is by simply living in a building that used certain kinds of asbestos in its construction.  The bottom line is, no matter how someone inhales asbestos, the results can be devastating.

Coming in Contact With Asbestos

Friday, February 18th, 2011

Mesothelioma is a potentially brutal cancer that targets the pleural lining of the stomach and lungs of its victims.  It’s a relatively rare disease, with somewhere between seven and 40 people per 1,000,000 in the US.  However, for those who suffer from it, it’s a devastating illness.  What’s more, it’s one that can often easily be prevented, but by the time symptoms manifest themselves, it’s too late.

In the United States, mesothelioma is most often associated with asbestos exposure.  Rates for naturally occurring mesothelioma, that is, mesothelioma caused by factors other than asbestos exposure, is rarer, occurring with the frequency of about one per 1,000,000.  The reason asbestos affects many more people than would be naturally afflicted is because of the widespread use of asbestos in a variety of industries, such as the construction and shipbuilding industries.

Asbestos was so used because the properties this low-density, feathery mineral exhibited were useful for a variety of applications.  For example, in the construction industry, asbestos was often mixed with concrete.  This made the concrete both lighter and stronger.  In addition to directly improving the material, the addition of asbestos to concrete also reduced the amount of concrete needed to build structures.  That, in turn, lowered transportation costs.

Asbestos was also often used for purposes of insulation.  Since it was light and fibrous, asbestos trapped significant amounts of air.  This made it very effective at keeping temperatures stable.  This property, combined with its lightweight nature, made it especially prized on ships, where weight was a premium.  On board, it was used to insulate pipes and boilers while contributing nominal gain to the ship’s overall mass.

Its widespread use, however, meant that a great number of people came in contact with it.  That, in turn, meant that a great number of people were put at risk for contracting mesothelioma.

Steve McQueen’s Mesothelioma Battle

Friday, October 15th, 2010

Steve McQueen, famed American countercultural actor known for his anti-hero star turns in films like Bullitt, The Magnificent Seven, and The Great Escape, died nearly 30 years ago from complications due to mesothelioma.  According to an article posted on, his family will release a book in honor of the legendary star known as “the king of cool.”  Appropriately, the book is titled Steve McQueen: A Tribute to the King of Cool. It features hundreds of photos and around 200 passages which chronicle McQueen’s life and interests, which include vehicles like motorcycles and vintage cars.

According to the article, it also touches on his tragic death, which was caused by mesothelioma.  Mesothelioma is an exceedingly rare but exceedingly deadly form of cancer that affects somewhere between seven and 40 people per 1,000,000 in the United States.  It can attack the soft lining around the stomach and the lungs, advancing rapidly once it manifests itself.  Indeed, mesothelioma’s damage is wrought so rapidly that the life expectancy of a victim diagnosed with the cancer is often measured in mere months.

Steve McQueen was famous for doing many of his own stunts, often wearing protective helmets and fire-resistant clothing which may have contained asbestos.  He also helped remove asbestos from pipes while he was in the Marines.  These incidents are significant because asbestos exposure is strongly associated with mesothelioma, and it’s conceivable that either of these events led to him contracting the disease.

When asbestos fibers are disturbed and become airborne, they can be inhaled.  Once inhaled, the fibers embed themselves in the lungs and remain dormant for a very long period of time which can range from 10 to 50 years.  This large window, combined with the extended latency period, means it’s hard to pinpoint exactly where McQueen contracted his mesothelioma.  However, either incident might have contributed to his tragic end.