There are many regulations in building materials that are allowable to use based on health and safety. There are many instances where harmful effects of substances may not be known for long periods of time. Before the 1990’s it was common for kids to go to school with asbestos or be raised in a house with lead paint. Over time it was found that harmful chemicals had to be removed from products or outlawed completely. If you were exposed to asbestos there are things to know that may help you with early diagnosis  and treatment. If you or a loved one have been experiencing difficulty breathing, trouble swallowing, chest pain or a persistent cough and you believe you may have been exposed to asbestos in the past, you may want to learn more about mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is a cancer now strongly linked to exposure to asbestos, a mineral once commonly used in building materials that today is a known carcinogen. Because mesothelioma can sometimes take twenty to fifty years after exposure to develop, you may not see symptoms until later in life. However, getting informed now can help you prevent and learn the treatment options for this disease. Here are a few key things you should know.

1. Asbestos Exposure Puts You At Risk

Those at the highest risk of developing mesothelioma are people who have been exposed to asbestos. If you’ve lived in an older building, worked in construction in the past or live near natural asbestos deposits or mine, you may fall into this category. It’s also possible to get secondhand exposure to asbestos through a family member or close friend. In the case of peritoneal mesothelioma, exposure to asbestos can result in swallowing or inhaling asbestos fibers, which then get stuck in the lining of your stomach, causing irritation and DNA damage. This causes the growth of cancer cells, which can then spread.

2. Notice Symptoms Early

The earlier you diagnose mesothelioma, the sooner you can start treatment and the better your odds are of recovery. If you notice any symptoms, talk to your doctor right away. Symptoms can vary depending on where the cancer is in the body, but common ones include chest tightness, abdominal pain, fatigue, night sweats, bloating, nausea and coughing.

3. There Are Several Treatment Options

Should you receive a mesothelioma diagnosis, you should know that there are three main treatment options. These typically include chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. If doctors believe it’s possible to remove a tumor altogether and the cancer hasn’t spread, surgery may be the best option. In other cases, radiation therapy or chemotherapy can help improve the quality of life for patients ineligible for surgery.

Mesothelioma can develop as late as twenty to fifty years after asbestos exposure, so understanding how to prevent it and treat it ahead of time can help you be prepared and informed. If you or a loved one notices symptoms like wheezing, persistent coughing, chest tightness and pain or difficulty breathing, you may want to ask your doctor for a cancer screening. With these tips in mind, you can stay prepared and give yourself or your loved one the best possible chances of long-term health and well-being.