Mesothelioma is a relatively rare form of cancer that develops in the lining of the lungs, abdomen, or heart. Most often caused by exposure to asbestos, mesothelioma can take decades to develop after exposure, making early detection and treatment essential. In this article, we will examine mesothelioma in Michigan, including the causes, symptoms, and treatment options available to those affected by this disease.
What is Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that develops in the mesothelium, which is a thin layer of tissue that lines many of the body’s internal organs. Most commonly, mesothelioma affects the lining of the lungs (pleural mesothelioma) or the lining of the abdomen (peritoneal mesothelioma). In rare cases, it can also develop in the lining of the heart (pericardial mesothelioma).
What Causes Mesothelioma?
The primary cause of mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos. Asbestos is a mineral that was used in a wide range of industrial applications from the 1930s to the 1970s, including in the construction of buildings, ships, and automobiles. When asbestos fibers are inhaled or ingested, they can become lodged in the mesothelium, where they can cause inflammation and scarring that can eventually lead to mesothelioma.
What Are the Symptoms of Mesothelioma?
The symptoms of mesothelioma can vary depending on the location and stage of the cancer. In the early stages, there may be no symptoms at all. As the cancer progresses, however, common symptoms include:
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Abdominal pain and swelling
- Nausea and vomiting
- Unexplained weight loss
How Is Mesothelioma Diagnosed?
The diagnosis of mesothelioma typically involves a combination of imaging tests, such as X-rays and CT scans, as well as a biopsy, in which a small sample of tissue is removed and examined under a microscope to look for cancerous cells.
What Are the Treatment Options for Mesothelioma?
Treatment options for mesothelioma depend on the location and stage of the cancer, as well as the overall health of the patient. Common treatments include:
- Surgery to remove the cancerous tissue
- Chemotherapy to kill cancer cells
- Radiation therapy to shrink tumors and ease symptoms
- Immunotherapy to help the body’s immune system fight the cancer
Mesothelioma in Michigan: A Closer Look
Why Is Michigan at Risk for Mesothelioma?
Michigan has a long history of industrial activity, which means that many of its residents may have been exposed to asbestos in the workplace. Industries that have historically used asbestos in Michigan include:
- Automotive manufacturing
- Power plants
- Paper mills
How Many People in Michigan Are Affected by Mesothelioma?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were 931 deaths due to mesothelioma in Michigan between 1999 and 2015. This makes Michigan one of the states with the highest number of mesothelioma deaths in the country.
What Are Some of the Most Common Causes of Mesothelioma in Michigan?
The most common cause of mesothelioma in Michigan is exposure to asbestos in the workplace. Asbestos was used extensively in a wide range of industries in Michigan, including in automotive manufacturing, construction, and shipbuilding.
Treatment and Support for Mesothelioma in Michigan
What Are Some of the Best Treatment Centers for Mesothelioma in Michigan?
Michigan is home to several top-rated cancer treatment centers that specialize in mesothelioma, including:
- Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit
- Michigan Medicine in Ann Arbor
- Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit
Is Financial Assistance Available for Mesothelioma Patients in Michigan?
Mesothelioma treatment can be expensive, and many patients may struggle to cover the costs associated with their care. Fortunately, there are several sources of financial assistance available to mesothelioma patients in Michigan, including:
- Workers’ Compensation
- Social Security Disability Insurance
- Veterans Benefits
- Tort Claims
What Support Groups Are Available for Mesothelioma Patients in Michigan?
Mesothelioma patients and their families can benefit greatly from connecting with others who have gone through similar experiences. Fortunately, there are several support groups for mesothelioma patients in Michigan, including:
- The Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation
- The Lung Cancer Alliance
- The Cancer Support Community of Greater Ann Arbor
The Importance of Early Detection and Prevention
How Can Mesothelioma Be Prevented?
The best way to prevent mesothelioma is to avoid exposure to asbestos. This means taking precautions in the workplace, such as wearing protective equipment and following safety procedures, as well as avoiding contact with asbestos in the home, such as in old insulation or roofing materials.
Why Is Early Detection of Mesothelioma Important?
Because mesothelioma can take decades to develop after exposure to asbestos, early detection is key to successful treatment. By catching the cancer in its early stages, doctors can provide more effective treatment options and improve the patient’s chances of survival.
Mesothelioma is a serious and potentially deadly form of cancer that can be caused by exposure to asbestos. With a long history of industrial activity, Michigan is one of the states at highest risk for mesothelioma in the country. However, by taking preventative measures and seeking early detection and treatment, mesothelioma patients in Michigan can improve their chances of survival and quality of life.