Mesothelioma is a cancer occurring in the lining of the lungs, chest and abdomen. The only known cause of mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos products.
The asbestos companies KNEW of the dangers of asbestos for many years before they ever warned the public of those risks.
About 4,000 people per year die from mesothelioma.
As many as 3,500 new cases are reported in the US each year. The incidence of cases have been rising since 1980, probably reflecting the 20 to 40 year latency period for asbestos exposure and disease presentation.
Legal Rights from Attorney for Mesothelioma
The number of mesothelioma cases diagnosed annually is expected to peak between the years 2000 and 2020
By the year 2030, it is estimated that asbestos will have caused 60,000 instances of mesothelioma and approximately 250,000 other cancers resulting in death.
The risk of developing mesothelioma varies, depending on duration and intensity of exposure.
Malignant mesothelioma affecting the lungs and chest cavity is referred to as “pleural mesothelioma”. When the disease affects the abdominal cavity, it is referred to as “peritoneal mesothelioma”. A more detailed discussion of both types of malignant mesothelioma appears later in this book.
Malignant mesothelioma is rare and seldom curable. Most victims of this disease die within two years of diagnosis For patients who undergo no treatment at all, the median survival rate is 4 months to 12 months. Those who undergo treatment often prolong their lifespan. The longest living mesothelioma victim has lived more than 9 years post-diagnosis but such lengthy survival is rare.
Mesothelioma generally begins in the lungs and spreads to the abdominal lining; the patients prognosis worsens when the abdominal lining becomes affected. In most cases, death is the result of the invasive nature of the tumor on heart and/or lungs.
Asbestos exposure is generally a common factor uniting mesothelioma victims.
Patients are generally male (over 80%).
Typical symptoms include chest pain, shortness of breath, coughing, weight loss, and sexual dysfunction. In later stages of the disease process, patients may experience deformation of the chest wall and abdominal masses that may or may not obstruct the bowel.
There is no standard treatment regimen for treating mesothelioma, and the Food and Drug Administration has never articulated a treatment protocol for this disease.
Chemotherapy is frequently offered as a treatment regimen but most patients who receive chemotherapy do not respond favorably.
Radiation therapy may also be offered, but is typically regarded as a palliative measure only (ineffective at increasing survival, but mildly to moderately helpful in relieving pain and other effects of the disease).
Treatment regimens may also include surgery to remove bulk from the tumor.
Involvement of the visceral pleura is one of the most important factors in determining a patients prognosis. There has been no randomized phase III study showing the superiority of any treatment (including radiation) compared to another.
Complementary methods (therapies not a direct part of the conventional treatment offered by the patients doctor), such as a vegetarian diet, exercise, vitamins, herbal remedies, and stress management may help the patient to deal with the effects of mesothelioma and may enhance their quality of life.
Families of asbestos workers have an approximately 1% risk for contracting mesothelioma; typically The Cause to family members is presented by the workers asbestos-laden clothing or manufactured articles
While there are occasional patients who cannot document a work, family or other exposure to asbestos. These are regarded as cases that arise from “background” exposure of some incident of exposure of which the individual is simply unaware.
It is possible that certain genetic factors may play a role in predisposing certain individuals to mesothelioma and making them more susceptible to the disease.
With mesothelioma, the cause of death is typically from either extension of the tumor into the surrounding organs, creating bowel obstruction, irregular heartbeat or heart failure; or respiratory failure
In about 50 % of mesothelioma patients, the disease has metastasized to other organs by the time of death.
One theory is that malignant mesothelioma occurs when the tiny fibers of asbestos work their way into the tissue covering the lungs outside surface (pleural tissue) or the tissue that covers the stomach and bowels (peritoneal tissue), and become trapped there.
Pleural mesothelioma can usually be diagnosed earlier than peritoneal mesothelioma
Illness and symptoms do not occur immediately following exposure to asbestos. As in any asbestos-related condition, there is typically a long period of time between exposure to the asbestos and the tiny fibers being breathed in or swallowed into the body and the appearance of disease.
Mesothelioma differs from other types of lung cancer. Lung cancer arises in the lungs inner tissues in contrast to mesothelioma, which develops in the tissue that covers the lung (and which can also affect the peritoneal tissue). Lung cancer is much more common than mesothelioma. Further, lung cancer can have other causes including cigarette smoking, other environmental and lifestyle factors, and genetics. On the other hand, smoking does not cause mesothelioma
Mesothelioma can also recur, meaning that once it has been treated, it can occur again. Recurrent malignant mesothelioma may come back to the same area of the body in which it initially manifested itself (typically the chest or abdomen), or in another, previously unaffected part of the body.
If you or someone you know has an asbestos-related disease, you owe it to yourself to make sure that your rights are protected. Your rights vary depending on many factors such as your residence, where you were exposed to asbestos, and the location of the responsible asbestos companies. Each state has its own laws and governs the law differently. Each state also has its own deadlines for allowing victims of asbestos disease to file lawsuits, called statutes of limitation and statutes of repose.
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