Get the Facts About Mesothelioma
More than $20 billion in trust fund money has been set aside to compensate mesothelioma patients who were exposed to asbestos. In many cases, victims do not have to file a lawsuit to receive compensation. The experienced mesothelioma legal team at Cory Watson Attorneys has helped many families collect the compensation they deserve.
Mesothelioma is an extremely deadly cancer of the membrane that lines the abdominal cavity and internal organs. There is no cure, and the only known cause is exposure to asbestos. The cancer occurs most often in the pleura (membrane between the lungs and the ribs), but it can spread or occur locally in the lining of abdominal organs or heart, as well. It has a long latency or “incubation” period, sometimes as much as 20 to 40 years.
Workers exposed to airborne asbestos fibers before the dangers were well-publicized and better regulated (before the late 1970s) are still being diagnosed with this disease. Between 2,500 and 4,000 Americans are diagnosed annually with mesothelioma.
Asbestos exposure can also cause many other diseases and people who have developed asbestos-related diseases may be entitled to financial recovery.
This law firm is not associated with, sponsored by, or affiliated with Tamir Biotechnology, Inc., or Eli Lilly & Co.
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The 4 Different Types of Mesothelioma
While mesothelioma refers to cancer that begins in the outer tissue that lines some organs, there are four different types of mesothelioma based on the organs it affects:
- Pleural mesothelioma
Nearly 75 percent of mesothelioma cases are pleural mesothelioma, and begin in the lining of the lungs.
- Peritoneal mesothelioma
The second most common type of mesothelioma is peritoneal mesothelioma, which affects the abdominal cavity and the organs contained within.
- Pericardial mesothelioma
Pericardial mesothelioma is when cancer forms in the cardiac cavity. Symptoms begin to develop as fluid builds up inside the pericardium.
- Testicular mesothelioma
Testicular mesothelioma is the rarest type of mesothelioma, accounting for less then 1 percent of all cases.
How is mesothelioma acquired?
When asbestos is mined, or when certain asbestos containing materials (ACMs) are processed, asbestos is often released into the air in dust-sized fibers. Asbestos fibers can be airborne in a processing plant, in the environment nearby, or even in a worker’s home once they are accidentally carried home on the worker’s clothes. When the fibers are inhaled, they lodge in the lungs and nearby membranes and the body cannot get rid of them.
What are some of the warning signs for mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma can develop for years without showing any signs. It has an “incubation” period of anywhere from 20 to 40 years. Sometimes signs of the disease are visible and discovered sooner from a chest X-ray taken for unrelated reasons. When mesothelioma progresses far enough for symptoms to show, they can include:
- loss of appetite
- shortness of breath
- persistent coughing
- chest pain
- pleural effusion (fluid in the lining of the lungs)
- lower back pain
- abdominal pain or “fullness”
- difficulty swallowing
Hasn’t asbestos been banned?
No, but some of its applications have been banned. Spray-on insulation, preformed pipe insulation, and hot water heater insulation containing asbestos have been banned. Other uses, such as asbestos-cement corrugated, flat-sheet roofing felt, and auto brake components are not currently under ban in the U.S. Asbestos has many important heat-resistant features, but its processing has been poorly regulated in the past.
Even though federal regulation of asbestos processing is now tighter than ever, there are still slip-ups. The bottom line is that even if asbestos were completely banned today, the long latency period means mesothelioma would still be with us for years to come.
Do you need to work with asbestos to be at risk?
No. Perhaps the most frightening aspect is that workers might unknowingly carry asbestos fibers into the home on their clothes. Family members have contracted the disease simply from this low-level exposure. You don’t have to work with asbestos or in an asbestos processing plant in order to inhale airborne fibers.
Many workplaces are large complexes with one small section in which asbestos containing materials or products are handled. A lack of proper workplace controls, such as proper ventilation, can sometimes mean airborne fibers drift elsewhere in a complex. Worse, the fibers can be airborne in the surrounding vicinity of a business in which ACMs are processed.
Do you need to be exposed to asbestos for years to be at risk?
No. Short-term exposure has been proven to cause mesothelioma in many people. The fibers can be inhaled deeply enough on just one or two occasions for them to lodge permanently, deep within the lungs. The body cannot dispose of asbestos fibers.
The frequency of exposure, and the amount to which someone is exposed, is not a sure way to predict the onset of the disease. Any cancer can have a faster onset due to various factors, known and unknown (smoking, genetic predisposition, etc.). As for this rare form of cancer, anyone who inhaled any asbestos fibers can contract mesothelioma. Contact Cory Watson Attorneys today for an immediate and confidential evaluation of your case.
How is mesothelioma diagnosed?
The early symptoms of mesothelioma are similar to much more common respiratory ailments, making it difficult to diagnose. Some patients will be falsely diagnosed with lung cancer or other diseases because of how mesothelioma presents itself. Mesothelioma symptoms that mimic other diseases include a chronic cough, chest pain, and blood in the fluid that is inside the lung. Doctors typically use a biopsy to find out the type of cells in any area of concern they see.
After doctors perform a biopsy they will usually use other types of testing to figure out the extent that the cancer has spread.
What treatment options are available for mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma elicits a feeling of hopelessness for many, and while it is a diagnosis not to be taken lightly, there are ways the disease can be managed. Along with most forms of cancer, ways to manage mesothelioma include chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation therapy. Currently available chemotherapy drugs include Alimta®, cisplatin, Gemcitabine, and Onconase®.
In patients with an early diagnosis, surgery can be used to remove parts of the growth.
Occasionally, doctors will perform a procedure called pleurodesis to stop fluid from collecting in the lung. The procedure involves doctors inserting chemicals into the lung so as to cause the body to seal the area off from further collection of fluid.