Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Mesothelioma: The Confusing Relationship With Asbestos

We often see articles and news reports where Mesothelioma and asbestos are discussed as though they are the same thing. In truth, there is a big difference between Mesothelioma and asbestos.

As a society, we tend to generalize terms that we use frequently. I am as guilty of this as anyone. I order a coke every time at a drive through or restaurant. Why is this weird? Well, I use the term to cover the general area of a soda. I do this even though I prefer Pepsi to Coke. In fact, I prefer Dr. Pepper to both of them, but I will still just order a "coke".

The Mesothelioma-asbestos scourge is so devastating that it is easy to fall into the same pattern. Most people can't pronounce Mesothelioma. I certainly could not when I started out. Given this, it is probably not much of a surprise that the cause and health results all now seem to be categorized as the "asbestos problem". This is a massive simplification of a complex issue and sure not accurate. Let's take a look.

So, what is the difference between Mesothelioma and asbestos? The answer is simple. Asbestos is a toxic material. When a person is exposed to it in its fibrous form, the person may breathe it into their lungs and suffer subsequent health problems. These problems vary, but can include a nasty form of cancer known as Mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma gets its name from the part of the body the cancer tends to start out in - the mesothelium. The mesothelium is a lining that runs around the trunk cavity and all major organs. It acts as a buffer between the organs. It is comprised of two layers of "skin" that have lubrication between them. This allows organs like the lungs to expand and retract without harming the organs around them or building up heat from friction. Regardless, Mesothelioma is a form of cancer that grows in this area. It grows very slowly, but is extremely difficult to detect.

What is the difference between Mesothelioma and asbestos? One is a cancer and one is the material that causes it.

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