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The Mesothelioma Victim
A mesothelioma victim has been exposed to a form of cancer predominantly developed by people whose work involved exposure to, and inhalation of, asbestos although there have been a small amount of reported incidents of this disease where asbestos was not known to be involved.
Asbestos is a mineral and was mined during the 1800s and from the war time up until the 70’s was used on a regular basis within the building industry during the construction of public places such as work premises, schools and hospitals.
Symptoms of mesothelioma can take as long as sixty years to show from the first exposure to asbestos although most cases develop from fifteen years after asbestos association.
Reported incidents of mesothelioma have increased over the last two decades but the disease still remains one of the less common forms of cancer.
Research in connection with early testing for mesothelioma is ongoing but for the time being a poor prognosis is carried by this disease.
The most likely symptoms experienced by a mesothelioma victim are as follows:
• Shortness of breath caused by fluid resting between the lung and the wall of the chest
• Pain in the area of the chest wall
• A loss of weight
If mesothelioma is suspected, following on from a chest X-ray and CT scan the mesothelioma victim will undergo a medical procedure known as a thoracoscopy where a camera is inserted into the chest and if necessary, a biopsy is taken.
When the disease takes over, the protective lining of the internal organs of the body, known as the mesothelium is attacked by malignant cells.
The most common part of the body for this disease to occur is the inner chest wall and the external lining of the lungs. However, it can also affect the abdominal cavity lining, the heart and the testis.
Mesothelioma is different to other forms of cancer as it is not in any way associated with tobacco smoking.
Unfortunately, it does not only affect the mesothelioma victim with the disease as others can be placed at risk by simply washing the clothing worn by someone who has worked with asbestos. For this reason, those working with asbestos are required to shower and change their clothes prior to leaving their place of work.
Treatments by way of conventional therapies for the mesothelioma victim have not been successful with many only surviving for a period of six to twelve months following the presentation of the disease.
Similarly, surgery has also proved to be disappointing as far as results are concerned, the most common form of surgery being the removal of the lining of the chest.
Where the disease is localised and radical surgery can be tolerated, radiation is regularly part of the post operative treatment. In some cases chemotherapy treatment is also undergone.
Within the United Kingdom the Health and Safety Executive has encouraged and actively promoted strict controls on the handling of asbestos due to the many lives lost from exposure to this mineral by way of mesothelioma and other forms of asbestos-related lung cancer.
In the past several employers have been aware of the health risks associated with working with asbestos, but nonetheless a blind eye was turned, workers were not warned about such issues and making money and profits were the employers’ only concern.
The Control of Asbestos Regulations introduced in November 2006 and formed from the Asbestos Prohibition, Asbestos Licensing and the Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations) focuses on the use and disturbance of asbestos containing materials within British workplaces being kept to a bare minimum.
The legislation places a ban on the importation and use of the majority of asbestos products and lays down stringent guidelines about how best to manage asbestos containing materials already in situ.
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