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Mesothelioma Spiking in Senior Population

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Team Forms to Tackle Cancer

By Emily Cassidy, M.D.

Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that is almost always caused by exposure to asbestos, a mineral that was thought to improve products, but unfortunately turned out to be highly toxic. Those 55 years and over, especially shipyard and construction workers, electricians, firefighters and others, should know more about the disease if they believe they may have had contact with asbestos years ago. And while mesothelioma is uncommon, more people who were exposed to the material are now being diagnosed with this complex cancer, which takes decades to develop.Throughout the 20th century, asbestos was incorporated into thousands of construction, commercial and household products, including fire-retardant coatings, concrete and cement, bricks, pipes, gaskets, insulation, drywall, flooring, paints and sealants. Asbestos use has greatly decreased today, but some workers exposed to the material 30, 40, or even 50 years ago are now being diagnosed with mesothelioma. Symptoms of the disease can include:

  • Pain in the side of the chest or lower back
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Excessive sweating
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss (without trying)
  • Trouble swallowing (feeling like food gets stuck)
  • Hoarseness
  • Swelling of the face and arms

Patients and their families facing a mesothelioma diagnosis are understandably fearful when confronting the challenges of this aggressive disease, but compassionate, effective management is available. Mary Bird Perkins – Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center’s Mesothelioma Specialty Treatment Team, comprised of pulmonologists, thoracic surgeons, medical and radiation oncologists, interventional radiologists, patient navigators and others provides a highly-coordinated effort to support those with this cancer.

The entire team has spent our careers fighting mesothelioma and now those with this disease don’t have to travel far to access the highest quality care. If you have been diagnosed with this disease or feel you may be experiencing symptoms, our team is here to help.

For more information, please visit marybirdlake.org/mesoteam.