According to health experts, the only known cause for a mesothelioma-cancer diagnosis is exposure to asbestos. Unfortunately, individuals exposed to asbestos normally do not display any symptoms until decades after the event. For this reason, doctors often diagnose mesothelioma cancer when it's already in an advanced stage, which greatly reduces the survival rate.
Even though most people associate mesothelioma cancer with lung cancer, it is not the same thing. As stated on the mesotheliomaweb.org site, lung cancer develops inside the lungs, while mesothelioma cancer affects the lining of the lungs. The tumor can also develop on the lining of the heart or abdomen as a result of asbestos exposure. Such exposure can take place either directly or indirectly. Direct exposure involves working with products containing asbestos fibers, while the indirect method involves second-hand exposure as when a family member transports the asbestos fibers on his clothing and unknowingly introduces other household members to the cancer-causing hazard.
A person exposed to asbestos must have regular health check-ups, as early detection is critical for a positive prognosis. If you or a loved one has received a mesothelioma-cancer diagnosis, here are six tips to keep in mind.
1. Undertanding a Mesothelioma Cancer Patient: Unfortunately, patients often experience a mixed range of emotions when they first receive the diagnosis. It's common to feel numb and wonder whether there was a mistake in the diagnosis. The person may wonder why it happened to him, and even religiously inclined individuals may wonder if there is a god.
2. Anger and Mesothelioma Cancer: A patient with this type of cancer might feel frustrated and overwhelmed by feelings of helplessness. Don't take it personally. He is not angry at you. Rather, the patient might feel guilty for exposing himself to the hazardous agents. He might also experience concern for his family and worry about possibly exposing them to the cancer-causing agents.
3. Support and Mesothelioma Cancer Patients: Be supportive and speak consolinly to your patient or loved one. Keep in mind that he may feel depressed and express feelings of fearfulness and sadness. However, depression may diminish the effectiveness of the cancer treatments and lessen the quality of life. A mesothelioma cancer patient needs to keep his immune system as strong as possible to fight the cancer.
4. Depression and Mesothelioma Cancer: Realize that depression is common in mesothelioma-cancer patients. Encourage your loved one to seek medical help if the depression becomes clinical (clinical depression is described as lastiing for two weeks or longer). It could be the result of the medication. Help him understand that the condition is treatable and taking the proper medication could help him regain his strength to cope with his illness.
5. Guilt and Mesothelioma Cancer: The patient may experience guilt for allowing himself to come in contact with asbestos. Help him understand that it wasn't his fault. Many workers that received exposure to asbestos never even knew of the exposure to the carcinogens.
6. Mesothelioma Cancer Patients and Enjoyable Activities: Watch comedy movies together. Research indicates that laughter has a positive effect on the body. Genuinely cheerful individuals fare better when faced with a terminal illness.
As traumatic and distressful as a mesothelioma diagnosis may be, there are positives. This type of cancer rarely occurs in individuals under 55 years of age. Additionally, although in previous years the prognosis was not favorable, it has improved, and there are reasons for optimism. Factors such as age and general health, as well as the type of cancer the patient is fighting, play a role in the survival rate of mesothelioma cancer patients.
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