What are the risk factors for mesothelioma?
The main risk factor for mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos. Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that was once widely used in insulation, fireproofing and other building materials. It is now known to be a human carcinogen, and exposure to asbestos fibers can cause mesothelioma.
Other risk factors for mesothelioma include:
• Family history of mesothelioma
• Previous exposure to radiation therapy
• Exposure to certain chemicals, such as cadmium or arsenic
• Having a weakened immune system
These factors may increase a person’s risk of developing mesothelioma, but they do not necessarily cause the disease.
When do you need to seek medical attention for mesothelioma?
If you have any symptoms of mesothelioma, it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible. Early diagnosis and treatment can improve the chances of successful treatment.
Symptoms of mesothelioma may include:
• Shortness of breath
• Chest pain or tightness
• Coughing up blood
• Abdominal pain or swelling
• Unexplained weight loss
If you have any of these symptoms, see a doctor right away. Your doctor will ask about your medical history and perform a physical examination. They may also order tests to confirm the diagnosis.
Tests that may be used to diagnose mesothelioma include:
• Imaging tests, such as X-rays, computed tomography (CT) scans, or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
• Biopsy, in which a sample of tissue is removed for examination under a microscope
• Blood tests, which can sometimes detect substances that are released into the blood by cancer cells
• Pleural fluid analysis, in which a sample of fluid from the space around the lungs is removed and examined