Since mesothelioma is a very rare and under reported disease, it also important to raise awareness of the disease for the general population so that vital funds and research attention can be directed to trying to find a cure.
Events such as the recent Miles For Meso Run/Walk are an excellent and inspiring way to raise awareness for mesothelioma. This event took place last month in South Florida thanks to the efforts of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization and mesothelioma survivor Larry Davis.
Mesothelioma is a rare cancer that attacks the mesothelium lining of the body’s vital organs in the chest and abdomen including the heart and lungs. There are two variations, pleural mesothelioma and peritoneal mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma has been linked almost exclusively to exposure to asbestos fibers. Asbestos is a naturally-mined substance that was used extensively in industrial applications during the 20th century.
The microscopic fibers from asbestos are easily breathed in if the substance is disturbed, cut, sheared or ripped in any way.
Although the fibers can bond quickly to the lung tissue, the incubation period for mesothelioma is extremely long – usually 20 to 50 years. For this reason people that worked with the substance decades before often discount or forget about the risk and fail to monitor for symptoms.
Early detection is vital to surviving mesothelioma. Once the disease surfaces, it spreads very quickly. Since the disease has no cure, early treatment and removal is the only way to combat the spread. However, since the symptoms also mimic those of less serious diseases, people often wait until it is too late.
Due to the widespread use of asbestos from the 1930s until the 1970s, it is estimated that millions of workers were exposed to the deadly substance. Experts believe that more than 10,000 people die each year from diseases like mesothelioma related to asbestos.
Although the use of asbestos has been severely restricted in the United States and most developed countries, it is still used in certain applications such as automobile brakes. Therefore, certain workers are still at risk of mesothelioma.