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Mesothelioma: Causes and Symptoms

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Causes of Mesothelioma continued...

Zeolites. These minerals are chemically related to asbestos. One of these related minerals, erionite, is common in the soil in some areas of Turkey, according to the American Cancer Society. Exposure to erionite is believed to be responsible for high rates of mesothelioma rates in those areas.

Radiation: The American Cancer Society notes that there have been a few published reports of mesotheliomas that developed following exposure to high doses of radiation to the chest or abdomen or after injections of thorium dioxide (Thorotrast), a material used by doctors in some chest X-rays until the 1950s.

SV40 virus. Some studies in laboratory animals have raised the possibility that infection with the simian virus 40 (SV40) might increase the risk of developing mesothelioma, according to the American Cancer Society. Some injectable polio vaccines given between 1955 and 1963 were contaminated with SV40, exposing as many as 30 million people in the U.S. to the virus. So far, the largest studies addressing this issue in humans have not found an increased risk for mesothelioma or other cancers among people who received the contaminated vaccines as children. 

Genetics. Some experts believe certain people may be genetically predisposed to mesothelioma. Rates of the disease vary among populations.

 

Symptoms of Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma symptoms commonly do not appear until 20 to 50 years after initial asbestos exposure.

The main symptoms of mesothelioma of the lungs are shortness of breath and chest pain. Accumulation of fluid in the pleura caused by the mesothelioma, if sufficiently large, may also contribute to the shortness of breath. 

Symptoms of peritoneal (abdominal) mesothelioma can include:

  • Weight loss
  • Swelling and pain in the abdomen
  • Blood clotting abnormalities
  • Bowel obstruction
  • Anemia
  • Fever

If cancer has spread to other parts of the body, symptoms may include pain, swallowing difficulties, or swelling of the neck or face.

Because many conditions share these symptoms, having these symptoms doesn't necessarily mean you have mesothelioma. It's important to see your doctor to determine what is causing them.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on August 28, 2014
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