Mesothelioma is a fatal condition characterized by a malignant tumor located in the sack or "pleura" that surrounds the lungs
. Inhaling asbestos
fibers is the most common cause of mesothelioma. The prognosis for mesothelioma victims is grim as conventional treatments such as chemotherapy
are often unsuccessful. Often mesothelioma takes decades to develop and can occur forty years or more after exposure to asbestos fibers.
Although reported incidence rates have increased in the past 20 years, mesothelioma is still a relatively rare cancer. About 2,000 new cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed in the United States each year. Mesothelioma occurs more often in men than in women and risk increases with age, but this disease can appear in either men or women at any age.
Symptoms of mesothelioma include, but may not be limited to, shortness of breath, chest pain, weight loss and cough.
A new treatment for mesothelioma sufferers was introduced in 2004. The procedure, known as photodynamic therapy, uses light laser beams to kill cancerous cells after a drug is administered to make the cells more sensitive. Side effects of the procedure include nausea and eye irritability.
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