Women hear about the various types of cancer and how to prevent them or limit their risk on a daily basis. However, women probably don't know very much about the cancer known as mesothelioma, which is caused by exposure to asbestos. What women don't know about this fatal type of cancer CAN hurt them, and the need to better-inform women about the causes of mesothelioma is urgent.
Mesothelioma occurs in the mesothelium, or lining of the body's internal organs. There are three common types of mesothelioma: pleural mesothelioma, occurring in the lining of the lungs; periotneal mesothelioma, which manifests in the lining of the abdomen, and pericardial mesothelioma, which occurs in the lining of the heart. Mesothelioma has one confirmed cause: previous exposure to asbestos. Mesothelioma is 100% fatal, but if one limits or avoids exposure to asbestos, their risk of developing this type of cancer is very small.
For women, second-hand exposure to asbestos is becoming a serious issue, as the number of women diagnosed with mesothelioma as a result of washing asbestos-contaminated clothes that belonged to someone living in their home have increased in recent years. Women who live with an individual who may come into contact with asbestos while at work should take precautions when handling clothing that may contain asbestos fibers. If possible, they should wear a mask that covers their nose and mouth to prevent possible inhalation of airborne asbestos fibers (masks that doctors wear - the kind that fasten over your ears - are easy to find and will suffice). Clothing that may contain asbestos should be washed separate from any other items. While handling clothing that may contain asbestos, it is advisable to open a window or ventilate the room if possible.
The Mesothelioma & Asbestos Awareness Center features a section dedicated to increasing awareness of mesothelioma in women: http://www.maacenter.org/mesothelioma/women/.
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