Seniors and Mesothelioma:8 Warning Signs and Symptoms
It’s no secret that seniors may be more prone to illness and disease than others, and no one is immune to cancer, which can strike at any time. Mesothelioma, however, is a bit different. There are several forms, but the most common is pleural mesothelioma, which “develops in the cells that form the outer lining of the lungs and inner lining of the chest cavities. It usually takes from 20 to 50 years for mesothelioma to develop after a person’s first exposure to asbestos.” Because of this latency period, the disease, on average, is not detected, according to ASCO (American Society of Clinical Oncology), until age 72. Roughly 91% of those diagnosed are over age 55.
MAAC (Mesothelioma Asbestos Awareness Center), quotes CDC estimates of 2,400 to 2,800 new cases of mesothelioma diagnosed each year. Down from a bit over 3,400 per year, the disease is deadly and should not be taken lightly or ignored. “The overall 5-year survival rate for people with mesothelioma is only 10% because it is usually diagnosed at a late stage. If the cancer is found at an early, localized stage, the 5-year survival rate for people with mesothelioma is between 13% and 16%. If the cancer has spread to nearby areas and/or lymph nodes (stages II and III), the 5-year survival rate is 5% to 10%. If the cancer has spread to distant parts of the body, the 5-year survival rate is less than 1%.”
The little research I’ve done here is, to me, alarming. Let’s recap. Of the People newly diagnosed, 91% of them are over age 51 and the average age is 72. Those are statistics we should care about. What then are the warning signs and symptoms we should be looking for? According to the Cancer Treatment Centers of America, there are at least 8 common signs and symptoms. Those signs include:
- Chest pain
- A dry (sometimes painful) cough
- Shortness of breath
- Difficulty swallowing
- Weakness and/or fatigue
- Back pain
- Unexplained weight loss
Any illness can rob us of our independence, especially cancer. That said, it behooves all of us to be proactive with our health. The symptoms listed above are commonly associated with a number of other illnesses, making mesothelioma sometimes hard to diagnose. If you, a client or loved one are experiencing any one of these symptoms, make an appointment with your doctor and have it checked out. Better to be safe than sorry.