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What is Asbestos Cancer?

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Mesothelioma Definitions

July 3, 2008

What is Asbestos Cancer?

Asbestos cancer is a serious and rare disease that results from exposure to the fibrous mineral called asbestos. It occurs more frequently among men, especially those between the ages of 50 and 70; however, asbestos cancer is not unknown among women. In the US alone, about 2000 to 3000 men and women are diagnosed with asbestos cancer each year.

The most prevalent form of asbestos cancer is mesothelioma, or cancer of the mesothelium layer that covers most of the body's internal organs. For someone with asbestos cancer, the cells of the mesothelium grow out of control and become cancerous, affecting the proper functioning of these organs. The symptoms of asbestos cancer are varied. Depending on the type of asbestos cancer, symptoms range from difficulty
breathing to trouble swallowing, chronic cough, weight loss, fluid in the chest, and pain in the chest and abdomen. When the cancer metastasizes, the disease could start affecting surrounding organs that are otherwise healthy.

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