Mesothelioma is a deadly, highly aggressive form of cancer that everyone should want to avoid at all costs. Nobody wants to get any kind of cancer, but mesothelioma is especially terrifying. Fortunately, most cases of mesothelioma can be prevented, at least in the technical sense.
So what can you do to prevent developing this deadly disease?
The Basics of Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma is a type of cancer, and a particularly rare one. According to MesotheliomaGuide.com, nearly all cases of mesothelioma develop as a result of exposure to a specific material known as asbestos.
Decades ago, asbestos was considered a kind of miracle material. It was an excellent insulating material. It was resistant to flame. It was cheap and easy to work with. And perhaps understandably, these advantages made it widely used across a number of different industries, and even in some residential environments.
The problem is, asbestos is a material full of jagged, tiny fibers that can enter the body in multiple different ways. If you breathe freely around asbestos without proper protective measures in place, these jagged fibers can enter your lungs. If you swallow any of these fibers, they can enter your abdomen. Sometimes, these fibers can even make their way to the lining of your heart.
Because of the shape and nature of these tiny fibers, asbestos exposure can trigger a chain reaction that eventually leads to the development of malignant mesothelioma. This can occur years, and sometimes even decades after initial exposure. The symptoms may start out as mild and hardly noticeable, such as a weak, yet persistent cough, but they tend to become more dangerous and harder to ignore with time.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for mesothelioma, and most treatment options can only stave off the inevitable. This is a particularly aggressive and deadly form of cancer.
Avoiding Asbestos Exposure
There are some cases of people who have developed mesothelioma without being exposed to asbestos. However, these tend to be extremely rare. Researchers are currently investigating whether there are complicating factors that make mesothelioma more likely, with or without asbestos exposure.
That said, the overwhelming majority of mesothelioma cases are a direct result of asbestos exposure, and avoiding asbestos exposure is the best way to prevent mesothelioma. Your risk of mesothelioma, in the absence of asbestos exposure, is very close to zero.
Since we’ve discovered the harmful effects of asbestos, we’ve stopped using it as a material in most applications. However, it’s still possible for you to be exposed to asbestos unwittingly. If you live in an old building, or if you work in industrial applications where asbestos exposure is a possibility, it’s important to conduct tests and take intervening action to avoid exposure. If you do detect any asbestos in or around environments you frequent, it’s important to contact an asbestos remediation professional immediately.
After Asbestos Exposure
Unfortunately, aside from avoiding asbestos exposure, there is no clear way to prevent the development of mesothelioma. If you’ve already been exposed to asbestos in the past, that’s not a guarantee that you’ll develop mesothelioma, but it is going to significantly increase your risk. Keep an eye on your physical health symptoms, and take action as soon as possible if you notice any mesothelioma symptoms arise.
Maximizing Your Health Outcomes
If you’ve been exposed to asbestos in the past, or if you suspect you may have been exposed to asbestos in the past, the best things you can do are avoid further exposure to asbestos in the future and practice the following to maximize your health outcomes:
- Understand your risks. If you’ve been exposed to asbestos in the past, you’re going to be at a much higher risk of developing malignant mesothelioma in the future. This is not pleasant knowledge to reckon with, but it can help you become better attuned to potential changes in your physical health. This way, you’ll be able to take action early, and hopefully prolong your own life.
- Visit your doctor early. It’s a good idea to visit your doctor early and often. See your doctor for regular checkups and make sure you report any symptoms that might be a sign of mesothelioma, including mild or hardly noticeable symptoms like mild abdominal pain. Catching mesothelioma early can greatly improve your prognosis.
- Seek treatment as soon as possible. Doctors have access to many different types of tests that can identify mesothelioma. If you know you have this rare, aggressive form of cancer, you should seek treatment as soon as possible and seek help from many different experts. There are many different types of treatments available for mesothelioma. These include surgery, which can potentially remove large swaths of cancerous tissue directly, radiation therapy, which uses high-energy radiation (like X-rays) to kill cancer cells and/or prevent them from growing, and chemotherapy, which utilizes an injection of specific drugs that prevent cancer cells from dividing or kill them directly. New treatment methods are continuously being proposed and developed; while there isn’t a surefire way to stop mesothelioma from spreading, we can all hold out hope that there may be one in the future.
- Take good care of your health. Your mesothelioma prognosis depends partially upon your existing physical health; though it’s hard to generalize because cases can be so unique, people with better health generally fare better than their less-healthy counterparts. Accordingly, you should prioritize maintaining a healthy lifestyle, pursuing regular physical exercise, a healthy, well-balanced diet, and the cessation of harmful lifestyle habits like smoking and drinking alcohol.
- Lean on others for support. Nobody should have to go through mesothelioma alone. After your diagnosis, it’s important to inform your friends, family members, and other loved ones. Make it a point to socialize with them routinely and don’t hesitate to ask for help and support when you need it.
There’s still a lot we don’t know about mesothelioma, and one day, we may even be able to find an effective treatment for it. But for now, the best we can do is spread awareness of the dangers of asbestos exposure and minimize the risk of exposure in our own lives.