Mesothelioma,is a very painful disease
The invasion of the mesothelium by cancer cells makes it very difficult for the patient to breathe, resulting in the need for oxygen, especially as the disease progresses. Those with the pleural form of mesothelioma may also suffer from pleural effusions. These effusions prevent the smooth movement of the lungs and other organs in the chest. Peritoneal mesothelioma also affects the stomach area and abdominal cavity, causing nausea, vomiting, or loss of appetite, which can result in dangerous weight loss. In addition to breathing difficulties and loss of appetite, mesothelioma victims also complain of excessive coughing, sleeping difficulties, persistent chest pain, fever, and pain in the lower back.
The history of mesothelioma started in the early 1900s. mesothelioma history, just as in the discoveries of other major diseases, is a combination of science, politics, medical research and courage. Mesothelioma is a deadly disease that affects the lining of several organs in the body, most commonly the lungs. It is now known that asbestos exposure is the primary cause for this disease; however, for more than 100 years of asbestos mining and production, the link between asbestos and mesothelioma remained obscured.
Mesothelioma, in general, is a very painful disease and because it is usually not diagnosed until it's in an advanced stage. For this reason, the symptoms are typically quite serious. Late diagnosis also means that the cancer is more likely to have metastasized, or spread, making successful mesothelioma treatment even more difficult.
Mesothelioma and Asbestos
The link between lung cancer and asbestos was slower to emerge. While many asbestos workers were dying of lung cancer in the 1930s and 1940s, there was also high growth rate of tobacco use and a high incidence of tuberculosis. Unless an autopsy was performed, it was difficult to determine the exact type of lung cancer that caused death. During this time period, it appears that the asbestos industry officials made little effort to establish the link between asbestos and mesothelioma, even though considerable evidence suggested this link.
Lung Disease and Asbestos
In the early 1900s workers at asbestos factories in Britain were experiencing an alarmingly high incidence rate of lung disease. The first reported case of asbestosis in a British asbestos worker occurred in 1906. By the late 1920s, the lung disease problems associated with asbestos mining and production were becoming well known, so much so that the British government commissioned a study in 1930. The study results showed that asbestosis was an occupational disease and was associated with asbestos exposure.
The South African asbestos Mines
In 1948, South Africa commissioned the first chest and infectious disease hospital in the area of the asbestos mines. The hospital's first medical superintendent, Chris Sleggs, was the first physician anywhere in the world to see a significant number of malignant mesothelioma cases. He noted the presence of atypical cases of lung disease in the wards. Most cases of tuberculosis recovered with treatment, but a few of the cases appeared to be resistant to the drugs. He began to investigate.
After World War II, asbestos mining in South Africa was growing rapidly. South Africa had plenty of cheap labor, and new technology was making asbestos mining much more efficient. Although a well known South African medical researcher noted in 1928 that asbestos exposure could cause danger, he attributed the dangers to asbestos processing, not mining. (South Africa did little processing of asbestos at that time.)
In 1959, these three researchers attended an international conference in Johannesburg, South Africa. They presented papers, based on their research, showing the connection between mesothelioma and asbestos. After the conference, they combined their data and submitted it to a prestigious British medical journal. Their data showed that of the 33 cases of pleural mesothelioma investigated by them, 32 had proven exposure to asbestos mining.
Chris Wagner, a medical researcher, became aware of the atypical lung disease in the mid 1950s. He started a research project to better understand the occupational hazards associated with the asbestos mining. Due to the efforts of Drs. Sleggs and Wagner, along with a third researcher, Ian Webster, by the late 1950s, the connection between Mesothelioma and asbestos was well documented.