What Is Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is an extremely aggressive and deadly form of cancer. Mesothelioma cancer (a.k.a. Malignant Mesothelioma) targets the membranes of the lungs and abdomen. It is reported that an estimated 3000 Americans are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year. Malignant mesothelimoa has three main types:
- Pleural Mesothelioma: This is the most common type of mesothelioma, representing approximately 75% of all cases. Pleural mesothelioma targets the soft tissue lining surrounding the lungs. Asbestos exposure is responsible for almost all reported cases of pleural mesothelioma.
- Symptoms: While some people may not experience any initial symptoms, common initial symptoms include raspy cough, coughing up blood, difficulty swallowing, shortness of breath, painful breathing, lumps under skin, sweats at night, fatigue, weight loss, or pain in the lower back or rib area.
- Life Expectancy: The life expectancy for those who are affected by pleural mesothelioma is less than 18 months; however, some victims live much longer.
- Peritoneal Mesothelioma: This type of mesothelioma develops in the protective membrane surrounding the abdomen, heart, lungs and testicles. As the second most common form of the cancer, it is reported to make up 10 to 20 percent of diagnosed mesothelioma cases.
- Symptoms: While some individuals do not experience any early symptoms, others report diarrhea, constipation, bowel changes, swelling or pain in the abdomen, feeling full, sweats at night, fever, anemia, nausea, vomiting, and weight loss.
- Life Expectancy: Most doctors treating peritoneal mesothelioma project life expectancy at under one year. However, new cutting edge treatments are helping extend survival rates, and 25% of those diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma survive 3 years after diagnosis.
- Pericardial Mesothelioma: Representing 1 percent of asbestos cases, pericardial mesothelioma affects the lining of the heart and is the hardest to treat. The treatment is so difficult because the tumors develop in the lining of the heart. Removing tumors so close to such a vital organ is extremely dangerous. Men are affected by this type of mesothelioma at twice the rate of women.
- Symptoms: Pericardial mesothelioma is known for its late stage detection stemming from a lack of initial symptoms. Reported symptoms include irregular heart beat/palpitations, chest pain, murmurs, cough, night sweats, shortness of breath, and difficulty breathing even when lying down or at rest.
- Life Expectancy: Most of the patients (50-60%) suffering from pericardial mesothelioma pass within 6 months of being diagnosed. However, there are certainly cases where the victim can live much longer. Early detection is imperative with all cancers, and allow for more treatment options.
What Causes Mesothelioma and What is Asbestos?
Asbestos exposure is the primary cause of mesothelioma. Merriam Webster defines Asbestos as ‘a soft grey mineral that does not burn, that was used especially as a building material in the past, and that can cause serious diseases of the lungs when people breath its dust” and “any of several minerals (as chrysotile) that readily separate into long flexible fibers, that causes asbestosis and have been implicated as causes of certain cancers, and that have been used especially formerly as fireproof insulating materials”.
Asbestos was once praised for its many commercial and manufacturing uses which included:
- Heat resistance
- Tensile strength
- Various aspects of commercial construction.
Asbestos was mixed with concrete and woven into fabrics. In the mid 20th century, the scientific and medical community finally established the link between exposure to asbestos and respiratory illness. By the time the link was made and the federal government took action, workers worldwide had already been greatly exposed. It is estimated that in excess of 10,000/year people continue to die from asbestos related diseases in the U.S. alone.
Was My Lung Cancer Caused By Asbestos?
Lung cancer, the second most common form of cancer across the US can also be caused by exposure to asbestos. Asbestos exposure is also linked to Asbestosis, a disease in which asbestos fibers scar lung tissue.
How Was I Exposed to Asbestos?
Asbestos exposure can come through an incredible number of sources. Given the many uses of asbestos, workers from all walks of life came into contact with asbestos. Asbestos was among the most popular building materials for almost 100 years. It was used for countless aspects of construction and manufacturing. The National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety has reported that more than 75 various occupations in the United States have been credited with exposing workers to asbestos.
The following list provides some common ways workers are exposed to asbestos:
- Asbestos was used by the military in almost all branches. The most common military asbestos exposure was through ship, vehicle and aircraft insulation. Asbestos was used a great deal in battleships, subs, destroyers, aircraft carriers, frigates, and other vehicles. Veterans continue to surface with new mesothelioma diagnosis’s from time spent in the service. The National Institute for Safety and Health estimates that 30% of all mesothelioma cases are veterans.
- Drywall tapers
- Pipe Fitters
- Railway workers
- Commercial heating and cooling
- Boiler and machine technicians
- Ceiling tiles
- Flooring tiles
- Power Plants
- Chemical Plants
- Oil Refineries
- Navy Shipyards
- Metal Works Plants
- Asbestos exposure can occur in nature when fibers are released into the air as a result of mining, natural disasters, or other causes. The 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Centers released a massive amount of asbestos into New York City.
Secondary Exposure to Asbestos
People are also diagnosed with asbestos related diseases without ever working directly with asbestos. This indirect exposure is still every bit as dangerous and affects women and children to a higher degree. Workers coming home from work covered in asbestos would often expose their wives and children to a large amount of asbestos dust. This dust would cover furniture and clothing and be passed directly onto families without knowledge. This indirect asbestos exposure was greater years ago when workers were still actively using asbestos as a building material without knowledge of the dangers. However, asbestos exposure can take many years before producing respiratory illnesses and victims continue to surface with secondary asbestos exposure claims.
Mesothelioma Diagnosis and Treatment
The general symptoms of Mesothelioma may include pain in the chest, loss of voice, cough, abdominal swelling, shortness of breath and fluid retention. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, please contact your medical professional immediately.
Mesothelioma can take as little as one or two months to show up, or as long as 30 to 40 years, with some cases reporting diagnosis 70 years after exposure. This long period of incubation often results in the disease being in a late stage when discovered. Early detection can provide additional time for more treatment options.
Mesothelioma cancer is definitely diagnosed from a skin tissue biopsy. A doctor will remove a small sample of the suspected area and a pathologist will examine the sample under a microscope. Then a determination can be made. Unfortunately, this process usually comes after a routine checkup reveals something that causes concern.
Treatment options for mesothelioma depends on the stage of the disease, or the extent to which the tumor has spread throughout the body. Treatment options include surgery to take the cancer out of the body, radiation therapy in an attempt to kill the cancer, and chemotherapy drugs to fight the cancer. WebMD has additional information on new mesothelioma treatment options showing promise in the medical community.
Asbestos Lawsuits and Settlements
The first person to hold an asbestos manufacturer liable for injuries caused from asbestos exposure was Clarence Borel. However, Clarence did not survive until the end of his case. His successful effort did cleared the path for countless victims to seek recovery for their asbestos related illnesses.
As time passed, the enormity of the asbestos crisis became known. From 1982 to 2002, those filing asbestos lawsuits went from 1,000 to more than 700,000, and the number of companies being sued increased from 300 to over 8,000. To date, over 10,000 companies have been affected and countless companies have sought protection under bankruptcy laws.
The lack of federal asbestos guidance has left it up to the states to deal with asbestos lawsuits. Numerous companies have also established billion dollar trust funds for asbestos victims in order to help provide reimbursement for the harms and losses caused from exposure.
Types of Mesothelioma Lawsuits and What to Expect
Mesothelioma lawsuits come in two forms: personal injury lawsuits and wrongful death lawsuits. These lawsuits hold the victims former employer or the company that manufactured the asbestos responsible for the harms and losses suffered from the exposure to asbestos.
- Personal Injury Lawsuit for Asbestos: In this lawsuit, the victim brings the lawsuit on his or her own behalf. This type of lawsuit can also be brought by those who were exposed to asbestos from a secondary source as discussed above.
- Wrongful Death Lawsuit for Asbestos: In this lawsuit, the family and loved ones of the deceased bring the case on behalf of the departed.
In some situations, mesothelioma lawsuits can be brought through a workers’ compensation claim. In addition, veterans exposed to asbestos while in service may be entitled to veterans benefits.
Mesothelioma lawsuits require the person bringing suit to prove:
- They suffered an injury
- The injured was a result of the negligence of the person being sued
- They suffered a loss as a result of the injury.
Mesothelioma has only one known cause: Asbestos. Therefore, the person bringing the lawsuit must prove exposure to the toxin, even if it occurred 40 or more years ago. Once the link is established, your mesothelioma lawyer will compile all of your harms and losses which resulted from this exposure in order to determine how much your asbestos case is worth. These damages may include medical expenses, future treatment expenses, lost wages, suffering, inconvenience and other related damages.
Mesothelioma and Asbestos Claims Help
As a law firm handling asbestos claims and mesothelioma claims, we understand victims cannot afford to pay for the services required to fight these large companies while they struggle to pay their medical expenses or replace the lost wages of a deceased loved one. The Dixon Injury Firm offers our services with a guarantee that THERE IS NO FEE UNLESS WE WIN YOUR CASE. In addition, we offer FREE INITIAL CONSULTATIONS to help you determine if you have a case by calling 855-402-7274.
Our compassionate and aggressive legal representation has earned us the honor of being listed among the Super Lawyers Rising Stars, Top 100 Trial Lawyers and Life-Time Members of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum. Our legal team is standing by to help 24/7.