Malignant Mesothelioma, Asbestos, and Your Rights

 

Have you been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma – asbestos-caused cancer? If so and if you were exposed to asbestos as a result of employment – former or present - you may have specific rights under the law which may help you hold responsible those who caused your disease.

 

Malignant mesothelioma (referred to as mesothelioma in this article) is a type of cancer for which the only known cause is exposure to asbestos. Pleural mesothelioma is the most common type of mesothelioma, developing in the pleura, the thin membrane that lines the lungs. Peritoneal mesothelioma is the second-most common type of the disease, developing in the peritoneum, the lining of the abdomen. Victims of the disease may also be diagnosed with pericardial mesothelioma, with tumors developing in the lining of the heart. In very rare cases, some victims have also been diagnosed with testicular mesothelioma.

 

What is it?


Mesothelioma is triggered by exposure to asbestos or asbestos-containing materials. When intact, asbestos is safe, but when it becomes old or damaged it becomes “friable” and tiny sharp fibers are released into the air, where they can be inhaled. These fibers lodge in the body, most often in the chest area. As a result, tumors sometimes form though not everyone that inhales asbestos dust will develop mesothelioma or any other asbestos-related disease, including asbestosis.

 

How do you get it?


Anyone who worked in a profession where asbestos was used or where asbestos products were produced may be candidates for developing the disease. This includes shipbuilders, insulators, welders, electricians, plumbers, pipefitters, construction workers, power plant workers, refinery employees, auto mechanics, railroad employees, and many others.

 

Asbestos use began in the early 20th century and use was allowed to continue until the late 1970s, when the U.S. government issued warnings about its use. The disease is most often diagnosed in those whose exposure to asbestos was long term. However, researchers have determined that even a small amount of asbestos exposure can result in the formation of cancerous tumors.

 

Exactly what are the Stages and Symptoms?


Early symptoms of mesothelioma can vary with each patient but most often consist of persistent cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, and fatigue. Because these symptoms are often indicative of something much less serious, candidates for the disease might believe they have a common cold or flu virus or are simply feeling "off." However, these symptoms will not disappear in those who have mesothelioma.

 

Because mesothelioma can take several decades to appear, the symptoms are often quite severe by the time they surface and the cancer has usually progressed to Stage 3 or 4. This makes treatment more difficult and often means that patients are not candidates for surgery, which can lengthen the lifespan in many instances.

 

Treatment options for mesothelioma patients are determined by the stage of the cancer and the severity of the symptoms.

 

Exactly what are the Treatment Options?


Surgery to remove the diseased lung and the area around it is an option for those who are in the earlier stages of the disease and are otherwise healthy with no co-existing conditions that make the operation especially dangerous. Others will most likely be treated with chemotherapy and/or radiation though gene therapy and immunotherapy have now entered the picture as well. Doctors sometimes recommend alternative therapies for palliative purposes (to relieve pain) including acupuncture, massage, meditation, and TENS therapy.

 

If a diagnosis of malignant mesothelioma has been determined, the victim may have legal options that allow him to hold responsible the individuals/companies that caused the exposure. Victims should look for an attorney who specializes in asbestos-related cases and choose one in their local area rather than a large national firm that may not be as familiar with the asbestos suits already filed in that particular region.

 

How do I Protect Myself and My Family?


Don’t hesitate to ask for proof of experience and feel free to request references of any lawyer you might be considering. You’ll want to make sure that your attorney will be one that does the best job possible for you and your family, resulting in a successful case that will provide compensation for medical and other expenses, loss of income, and for your family after you’ve passed.

 

Don’t hesitate to ask for proof of experience and feel free to request references of any lawyer you might be considering. You’ll want to make sure that your attorney will be one that does the best job possible for you and your family, resulting in a successful case that will provide compensation for medical and other expenses, loss of income, and for your family after you’ve passed.