According to Asbestos.com and the American Cancer Society, there are about 3,000 new cases of mesothelioma each year, just in the United States. However, even though there are still new cases, the amount of asbestos in the U.S. has significantly decreased. As a result, according to some sources, the number of cases of mesothelioma is decreased as well. Despite this good news, it is important the general public receives a basic education about what mesothelioma is, how to spot the symptoms, the causes, the treatment options available, and getting the compensation you deserve.
1. What is It?
Mesothelioma is a type of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos, a common building material that is no longer used in modern construction. Asbestos provided sound absorption, fire resistance, and was used in insulation, concrete, ceiling construction, and even in fabrics and small appliance wiring applications. However, during the 20th century, it was discovered that asbestos causes serious and fatal disease among those who were exposed to it for prolonged periods of time. In addition to mesothelioma, exposure to asbestos is also responsible for some types of lung cancer and asbestosis. It is important to understand the difference between mesothelioma and lung cancer.
Is Asbestos Legal?
According to Wikipedia, As of 2019, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has not banned the use of asbestos. However, asbestos was one of the first hazardous air pollutants regulated under the Clean Air Act of 1970, Section 112. Many applications have been disallowed by the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The United States has extensive laws regulating the use of asbestos at the federal, state, and local level. Many home and property sales transactions of buildings constructed prior to 1970 require an asbestos inspection, as well as acknowledgement of all parties involved of the possibility of asbestos in the structure.
Where does Mesothelioma occur?
The mesothelium exists on the lungs, abdomen, heart, and testes as a protective lining. When cancerous tumors form on this lining, the condition is called malignant mesothelioma or just mesothelioma. In most cases, mesothelioma will occur when:
- A person swallows or inhales airborne fibrous asbestos.
- Once ingested or inhaled, the fibers become stuck in the mesothelium lining of the body.
- The fibers remain lodged in the body and the lining becomes inflamed.
- The fibers are never removed and, as a result, tumors form and continue to damage the body.
Mesothelioma is most likely to occur latently in men; due to the nature of the disease, most diagnosis of mesothelioma will not be made for 20-50 years after exposure, which means most affected patients will be in their 50s, 60s, and 70s. This means most don’t discover the consequences of exposure until their illness is advanced.
2. What Causes mesothelioma?
Because asbestos is everywhere, anyone can gain exposure to it. However, those at risk include those who have personally come in contact with asbestos fibers as well as those who live with someone with direct contact to asbestos. Those indirect cases occur because these fibers will be on the exposed person’s skin and clothes and are therefore brought into the home.
Veterans & Mesothelioma
Those in the military are some at the greatest risk to develop mesothelioma, especially those in the Navy. Ships such as battleships, cruisers, submarines, frigates, aircraft carriers, auxiliary vessels, and destroyers are all places where veterans may have come in contact with asbestos during their service.
Others, due to their occupation, may come in contact with asbestos. Those include electricians, auto mechanics, drywall tapers, and firefighters are those the most at risk. Job sites that can have this toxic material include shipyards, metal shops, chemical plants, power plants, schools, and oil refineries.
Other environments that increase your risk for mesothelioma through contact with asbestos include mining ventures and natural disasters. The attack on the World Trade Center was not only a tragic event for those lives lost from the initial attacks, but also those who were exposed to the cloud of debris and asbestos.
3. What Are Symptoms of mesothelioma?
Because of the widespread use of asbestos, it is likely that everyone has been around materials that have asbestos in them. However, the inhalation of trace amounts won’t usually cause health problems. A person can gain exposure to asbestos in the workplace, public buildings, military service, and even at home. However, those working in construction, shipyards, and the military are at the highest risk and more likely to have been exposed.
Mesothelioma that occurs in the lungs and chest is called pleural mesothelioma. According to a Mayo Clinic article, symptoms include:
- Chest pain, specifically under the rib cage
- Painful coughing
- Lumps under the skin on the patient’s chest
- Shortness of breath
- Weight loss
Mesothelioma that exists in the abdomen is called peritoneal mesothelioma and symptoms, according to the same article, include:
- Swelling and pain in the abdomen
- Lumps in the abdominal area
- Weight loss
Other types of mesothelioma include pericardial mesothelioma (occurs around the heart) and mesothelioma of tunica vaginalis which may first appear as a lump or swelling on the testicles.
I might have Mesothelioma. What should I do?
If you are experiencing these symptoms, it is best to seek the help of a healthcare professional as soon as possible. The sooner you are diagnosed, the better your rate of survival will be. If localized mesothelioma is found within two years, a patient has a 2-year survival rate of 41-46 percent. Because this type of cancer can spread to the rest of the body, it is imperative that you seek treatment right away: The two-year survival rate is decreased to 26-38 percent if it has spread. The 5-year survival rate is below 20 percent even if it is localized. Seek medical help as soon as possible.
4. Mesothelioma Treatment
The type of of mesothelioma that you have and the stage of cancer both influence the means of treatment. The most common treatments include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. However, other treatments include immunotherapy and photodynamic therapy with other even more effective treatments in clinical trials. Other treatments include:
- Biological therapy
- Photodynamic therapy
- Gene therapy
Find out more about these new innovative treatment options and those that are currently in clinical trials, in our recent blog post, “Newest Advances in the Treatment of Mesothelioma.” Even though the survival rate is low for those diagnosed with mesothelioma, there is hope through advances in technology and medical research.
5. Compensation for mesothelioma
Lastly, if you think you have mesothelioma, it is important that you know your compensation options. Receiving your diagnosis as soon as possible is important because filing a mesothelioma lawsuit is time sensitive. You will also need a mesothelioma attorney who is licensed to file a lawsuit. In most cases, individual claims or class action lawsuits are settled out of court and will allow you to receive compensation.
Are you ready to seek compensation?
Napoli Shkolnik PLLC work with those seeking a mesothelioma attorney to get the compensation that they deserve. Our lawyers will work with you to decide which type of case will be best for you and can assist you in joining a class action case or guide you through the process of filing as an individual. We are known locally and trusted nationally. Learn more about the Napoli Shkolnik PLLC attorneys and contact us, by visiting our website.