Mesothelioma 101: Exactly what You Had to Know
Though mesothelioma was on the rise during the past several decades, it remains a much rarer form of cancer than many others, like lung or breast cancer, and – as a result – the general public doesn’t know a lot about the disease, how it develops, its symptoms, and who might be a likely candidate for this type of cancer. The article below aims to answer these questions and others, providing a clearer look at this devastating disease that continues to take the lives of often unsuspecting victims.
What Is Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is a form of cancer that is most often linked to exposure to asbestos. More specifically, it occurs when tiny asbestos fibers lodge in the lung area (or other parts of the body), causing tumors to form.
There are several different types of mesothelioma, named for the location of the disease. The most prevalent is malignant pleural mesothelioma, which forms in the pleura, the lining of the lungs. About 80 percent of all cases of mesothelioma diagnosed worldwide are of the pleural form. Victims of the disease might also be diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma, which attacks the lining of the abdomen; or pericardial mesothelioma, a very rare form of the disease which settles in the lining of the heart.
What Causes Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma has long been a difficult-to-treat cancer and many victims of the disease die within a year of diagnosis, though strides are being made towards better treatments that may extend the life of the mesothelioma patient.
The average age at the time of diagnosis is 69 years old and the disease is much more common among Whites and Hispanics than in African Americans or Asian Americans. It can take up to four or five decades for mesothelioma to appear, which accounts for the average age of diagnosis.
What Are the Common Signs and Symptoms of Mesothelioma?
Typical signs of mesothelioma include breathing issue, unmanageable cough, severe chest pain, weak point, and/or unexpected weight reduction. The common symptoms of mesothelioma are commonly mistakenly thought of as simple conditions and/or symptoms of typical disease, and when it is spotted, it is typically too late to reverse or cure it. The majority of the time, mesothelioma is verified after the medical professional have actually carried out a biopsy on the physiological website where the mesothelioma cells have collected.
Increase in Asbestos Compensation Amounts
The most common cause of mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos. Many individuals were exposed in the workplace via jobs that put them in regular contact with the toxic mineral. Most of this exposure occurred from the 1940s through the 1970s, though some exposure continued into the following decades despite the presence of laws that governed asbestos use.
A Fund for Justice
Some individuals might have been exposed to asbestos while performing do-it-yourself projects around their homes or elsewhere. Often, these individuals failed to identify the presence of asbestos or did not handle the material properly, resulting in inhalation of fibers.
Others develop mesothelioma due to secondary exposure to asbestos. This most often occurs among individuals whose family members worked with asbestos materials and would bring toxic dust home on their clothes or body. As a result, those living in the same household may have inhaled the fibers. This secondary exposure occurs most often among wives who would shake out and then wash their spouse’s dust-covered work clothes, causing asbestos fibers to circulate through the air.
A Work-Related Cancer
Mesothelioma symptoms are often mistaken for those of a more common ailment, such as a cold, the flu, pneumonia, or bronchitis. Symptoms include: shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, chest pain, coughing, and weight loss. Diagnosis can be difficult, especially if the individual does not connect past asbestos exposure to the symptoms. Usually, doctors will perform a variety of tests before a definitive diagnosis is made. These might include chest x-rays, MRIs, CT scans, and/or biopsies.
The Mesothelioma Act
As was previously stated, mesothelioma cancer is often related to on-the-job exposure to asbestos. The mineral was used in the manufacture of hundreds of products until the late 1970s and early 1980s, when the government finally stepped in with laws governing the use of the material. Among the tradesmen (and women) most likely to be affected include:
• Electrical engineers
• Boiler technicians
• Field service engineers
• Maintenance technicians
• Chemical technicians
• And many others
Where Did They Work?
Nearly every state in the U.S. saw rising numbers of cases of mesothelioma throughout the first decade of the millennium though a decline is now present in some locations. Some states report just a few cases each year. Others, especially those states with large amounts of industry, report many more incidences of the disease. West Virginia, for example, ranks among the states that report the most cases, approximately 1.65 deaths for every 100,000 residents, according to a 2015 study published in the Journal of Occupational Environmental Health.
It’s easy to figure out why West Virginia’s mesothelioma rates are so high. Many of the state’s residents work in jobs within industries that made extensive use of asbestos for decades. This included steel mills, power plants, mines, and refineries.
In many instances, at least until the late 1970s, there was little regard for the health and safety of these workers. Owners/managers only cared that the work get done and get done correctly. It wasn’t unusual for these West Virginians to work with asbestos without the benefit of any sort of protective gear, such as respirators. As a result, inhalation of fibers was all too common and – for decades – the number of diagnosed cases of mesothelioma in West Virginia continued to rise.
Making a Claim for a Work-related Illness
These days, workplaces are inspected to make sure employees are working in a safe, toxin-free environment. If there is any risk of danger, they are provided with the proper training and tools to avoid a catastrophe. It’s unlikely that you’ll encounter asbestos in a place of employment these days. However, it’s long been too late for those who were exposed to the material in the past and are now suffering from malignant mesothelioma.
In many cases, however, it’s not too late to file a claim for compensation. Many individuals stricken with mesothelioma, in states all around the country, have filed lawsuits against asbestos manufacturers and others responsible for their negligent exposure.
An experienced attorney who knows the ins and outs of asbestos exposure cases can help determine whether or not filing suit is the right next step for a particular mesothelioma patient. Those dealing with the disease should book a consultation with an experienced mesothelioma lawyer to determine the proper direction in which to proceed in order to gain rightful compensation.