Asbestos has long been a useful mineral however with the increased health risk discovered in recent times, it has been effectively banned. Asbestos is responsible for numerous diseases most of them being deadly, however with adequate treatment and an early diagnosis, significant recovery can be accomplished. Below are some of the diseases caused by asbestos along with their treatments.
Mesothelioma is the main disease that is caused by asbestos. Unfortunately, mesothelioma is notorious for being a silent disease, mainly due to the area of the body that it affects (the mesothelium), thus symptoms are highly disguised and appear to be symptoms of harmless diseases such as a dry cough and tenderness in the abdomen. In some cases, no symptoms may be present until the cancer has developed into an almost incurable state. For this reason, mortality rates with mesothelioma are very high, thus any treatments for mesothelioma are meant to alleviate the pain or only extend the lifespan of the victim. It cannot be used to cure the disease completely. Like other types of cancer, treatment for mesothelioma are done by chemotherapy where drugs are administered that kill cancer cells, surgery is also done to ease the pain of the patient as well as radiation therapy which is to externally target cancer cells via laser beams and kill them. Due to high mortality rates, several clinical trials have been developed to attempt to remove the disease completely, these are methods of cure that are still being tested and require voluntary patients to undergo further tests. The results of these clinical tests are quite promising; however they pose a very high risk to the patient if the method fails.
Due to the complexity and size of the organ, treatments for lung cancer can vary greatly. Treatment can vary depending on the type of lung cancer you have and how long you have had it for (the stage). Common treatments include a lobectomy which is removal of part of the lung or a pneumonectomy if the cancer has spread to a great extent; in a pneumonectomy the entire lung is surgically removed. Apart from surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy is performed depending on the severity of the cancer. If it has spread to other regions, surgery is performed with radiotherapy or chemotherapy to contain the disease.
Pleural thickening isn’t a cancer but it can be a symptom of cancer, in pleural thickening, as the name suggests, the pleura in the lungs thicken and eventually harden if not treated. If the thickening is severe a pleurectomy may be performed where the pleura is surgically removed. This drastic measure is usually taken when pleural thickening occurs due to asbestos, however, pleural thickening is a common condition that can be caused by other factors, if bacteria cause it, antibiotics maybe prescribed, if a certain drug is causing it, the drug will be discontinued. Depending on the cause, different treatments may be prescribed.
In asbestosis, lung tissue becomes scarred and unusable. If asbestosis becomes very severe it may become terminal however it can be controlled using various treatment options. Due to the lack of lung tissue to breathe, shortness of breath is commonly experienced by patients who have been diagnosed with asbestosis. Thus, oral, topical and inhaled medications are prescribed to make breathing easier by relaxing the bronchial tubes. Severe cases of asbestosis makes breathing very difficult and in these situations oxygen is externally provided to the patient to ensure sufficient oxygen reaches the system. Asbestosis weakens the defense system, specifically airborne infections that affect the respiratory system thus treatments that strengthen the immune system maybe prescribed as well.
In all cases, the treatments used may differ depending on how severe the disease is and the area being affected. Most of the aforementioned diseases cannot be completely cured but can only be moderately controlled to ease pain and extend life expectancy.