Mesothelioma in Seniors

Mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive cancer that affects seniors. One of the primary mesothelioma causes is asbestos exposure. The cancer develops in the mesothelium, a protective membrane that lines three body cavities: mesothelioma x-ray image
  • the thoracic cavity (pleura),
  • abdominal cavity (peritoneum)
  • and the heart sac (pericardium).
In the case of testicular mesothelioma, the cancer develops in the tunica vaginalis, the membrane surrounding the testicles.

The cancer develops when asbestos fibers are inhaled or ingested into the body where they can become lodged in organs or cavities, causing inflammation or infection and cellular damage. Over time, the cancerous cells begin to divide uncontrollably. This makes the membranes in the affected location thicken. Fluid then begins to build up in the spaces between membrane layers and tumors begin to form, causing impaired bodily function. Since a mesothelioma diagnosis often occurs once the cancer has progressed to later stages of development, mesothelioma prognosis is typically poor. 

While a cure for mesothelioma does not currently exist, mesothelioma treatment options such as surgery, chemotherapy and radiation are available for patients to help combat the cancer. Extensive studies and mesothelioma clinical trials are in progress internationally and cancer specialists and doctors are constantly working towards the discovery of a cure.

A recent statistic shows that nearly 85% of all mesothelioma patients are seniors. Mesothelioma usually takes 20 to 50 years to develop in a subject following an exposure of asbestos. Unfortunately, this means that the cancer symptoms are not present until long after the exposure.

Symptoms often resemble illnesses such as influenza and pneumonia, and in the case of pericardial mesothelioma, symptoms can resemble other cardiac conditions. This can make diagnosis difficult though informing a doctor of prior asbestos exposure can alert them of the possibility of an asbestos-related disease.

More information on support options for malignant mesothelioma in seniors.

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