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Monday, March 28, 2005

Mesothelioma -- An Introduction

Mesothelioma is a form of cancer disease, in which cells of mesothelium (tissue that surrounds lungs, stomach, heart and other organs) become abnormal (keep growing out of control.) They can crowd out of normal cells and damage nearby tissues and organs, and even spread to other parts of body.

The major risk factor for mesothelioma is asbestos exposure at workplace. Asbestos is a common form of magnesium silicate, which was used in various construction products such as cement, brake linings, roof shingles, flooring products, fireproofing; textiles, and electrical insulation. Tiny particles of asbestos will float easily in the air during the manufacturing process. If breathed in, those particles of asbestos may damage the cells in lungs and lead to pleural mesothelioma (pleura is membrane that surrounds lungs and chest cavity). If swallowed, they can lead to peritoneal mesothelioma (peritoneum is tissue that covers abdominal cavity organs). However, some reports show that individuals without any exposure to asbestos are also can suffer from mesothelioma. So far, there hasn’t been a proof that smoking will increase the risk of mesothelioma, but it may worsen the respiratory system and may increase the risk of developing lung cancer.

Mesothelioma can be prevented by avoiding contact with asbestos in homes, public buildings and at workplace. People work in asbestos mines and mills, producers of asbestos products, construction industries, electrical insulation, workers in the heating and other trades people should wear personal protective equipment to lower the risk of exposure. While for protecting their family members who live together with them, the workers are suggested to shower or at least change their clothing to get rid of asbestos dust which can easily stick on hands, legs, hairs and cloth.


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