Mesothelioma, a rare and devastating form of cancer, can take decades to show up in people who have had prolonged exposure to asbestos and other harmful chemicals. It often occurs in people in Maryland and across the U.S. who have worked in construction, roofing, oil refineries, power plants and other fields where they are forced to inhale toxic chemicals. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 2,700 people in the U.S. die each year from mesothelioma.
Malignant mesothelioma attacks the membranous lining that covers key body organs, such as the lungs, abdomen and heart, as reported by Medical News Today. Although early diagnosis can help extend a person’s life expectancy, mesothelioma is aggressive and often takes the life of the unfortunate victim. The signs and symptoms of mesothelioma vary depending on what organ of the body is affected. These include the following:
- Unexplained and sudden weight loss
- Shortness of breath, exhaustion and fatigue
- Heart palpitations
- Nausea and vomiting
- Fluid retention
- Low blood pressure
People may experience pain in the affected area, such as under the rib cage, lower back and/or the abdominal area, according to the New York Daily News. As people inhale particles of asbestos, the debris can accumulate within the organ lining and increase the risk of cancer. While asbestos is rarely used today, old buildings and products that were made with the harmful chemical can break down and release a fine asbestos dust. Not only can this chemical cause harm to the people who are breathing it in at the worksite, but workers can bring it home on their clothing and in their hair, exposing their friends and family members to it as well.