Dear Ask The Doctor: I was exposed to asbestos in my past employment and told I am at risk for Mesothelioma. I would like to know what is Mesothelioma?
Dear Sam: Mesothelioma is a form of lung cancer. The mesothelium layer of the lungs - a protective layer - can transform into cancerous cells with chronic asbestos exposure. Asbestos is the only known cause of Mesothelioma. It is not known how much asbestos exposure puts you at risk but it is believed prolonged chronic exposure can lead to Mesothelioma as opposed to one time exposure.
Symptoms of mesothelioma may not appear till decades after exposure and include shortness of breath, chest pain wheezing, coughing and weight loss.
Xrays and lung function tests may aid in the diagnosis. If fluid or a mass is discovered, a CT and a biopsy may be done to confirm the diagnosis.
If you have been exposed to asbestos in your occupation, it is important to let your family doctor know and attand routine follow up.
Last Updated ( Thursday, 16 August 2012 )