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Monday, December 17, 2007

Asbestos Cancer

By Jason Gluckman

Asbestos, a naturally occurring complex silicate, was extensively used in many industries, including insulation in ship building, manufacture of brake linings, and automobiles. Asbestos is a common name given to a group of six fibrous minerals which have their existence in two general forms, friable and non-friable. The toxic effects induced by Asbestos inhalation include desquamating alveolitis, bronchiolitis, and pulmonary fibrosis. Other more serious health ailments caused by Asbestos exposure include pleural effusion, pleural plaques, pleural calcification, and Asbestos Cancer (mesothelioma).

Asbestos Cancer, a serious health problem associated with Asbestos exposure, starts when cells found in mesothelium (a protective lining that covers most of the internal organs of the body) becomes abnormal and divide without control or order. These cancer cells may spread to damage tissues and organs. The diagnosis of Asbestos Cancer is difficult with pleural cytology. The characteristic radiographic feature of the disease is massive pleural effusion.

The disease is almost three times more common in males as compared to females. The maximum number of Asbestos Cancer cases is reported in the age group of 40 -60 years. The most common symptoms observed during the onset of Asbestos Cancer include asthenia, breathlessness, and dull chest pain. Other less frequent symptoms include cough, fever, and loss of weight. Haemoptysis is a symptom of Asbestos Cancer which is rarely observed.

The therapeutic (chemotherapy or immunotherapy) means are mostly unable to help significantly in the treatment. Even radiotherapy and pleurectomy fail as effective treatment options. The average patient’s survival after the diagnosis of Asbestos Cancer is 8 to 10 months. The most preferable option can be of preventive treatment for Asbestos Cancer. Strict industrial safety measures, proper hygiene, and regular check up of workers exposed to Asbestos must form the crucial part of serious Asbestos Cancer preventive treatment methods.

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