What is Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma, or more technically malignant mesothelioma, is a rare type of cancer which develops in the lining that covers and protects most of the internal organs in your body — the mesothelium. The cancer typically results from exposure to asbestos and is now the subject of widespread personal injury litigation. The disease often develops after exposure to asbestos in the workplace.
If you have worked on a job where you were exposed to and inhaled asbestos particles or asbestos dust, you could develop mesothelioma. It can also spread to the abdomen, heart, lungs, and testicles. The disease is referred to as “the slow killer,” because it takes years, even decades, to develop. Once it has been diagnosed, there is very little chance of recovering from it.
Asbestos can cause several deadly diseases, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, including:
- Mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer found in the thin lining of the lung, chest, abdomen and heart that is almost always linked to asbestos exposure;
- Lung cancer, which causes the largest number of deaths related to asbestos exposure;
- Asbestosis, a serious, progressive, long-term non-cancer disease of the lungs for which there is no effective treatment.
Types of mesothelioma include: pleural, most commonly found in the outer lining of the lungs; peritoneal, a cancer of the lining of the abdomen; pericardial, which affects the heart; and reproductive, which affects the reproductive organs.
Symptoms of the disease
Unfortunately, mesothelioma does not exhibit any symptoms or warning signs early on, when the disease is starting to develop. If you have worked on a job where you might have been exposed to asbestos dust or particles, regardless of the length of time involved, you should talk with your family physician and get regular check-ups from now on. The three primary symptoms of the disease are difficulty when swallowing, a persistent and raspy cough, and shortness of breath.
Pericardial mesothelioma symptoms include chest pain, fatigue, irregular heartbeat, and a persistent cough. The symptoms of peritoneal or abdominal mesothelioma usually include abdominal pain, fatigue, nausea, swelling of the abdomen, or lumps under the skin of the abdomen. Because of the rarity of testicular mesothelioma, little is known about this form of the disease and its symptoms.
Options for Treatment
Currently, there is no cure for mesothelioma. Many patients have undergone alternative therapies that include clinical trials where experimental methods attempt to treat the disease. The three most common mainstream options are chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery, which help to relieve some of the symptoms of the disease and improve the patient’s quality of life.
Mesothelioma surgery is usually combined with other asbestos-related cancer treatments. A pleurectomy / decortication is a surgical procedure in which the pleura, a membrane lining the lungs and chest cavity, are removed without removing the entire lung. Chest tube drainage and pleurodesis are procedures that relieve pain and inflammation. A pleuroperitoneal shunt may be used in patients who have been unsuccessful with chemical pleurodesis or other therapies. Extra-pleural pneumonectomy (EPP) involves the removal of the pleura, diaphragm, pericardium and the lung with tumors.
Non-surgical treatments include chemotherapy, which focuses on shrinking existing tumors, controlling the spread of cancerous cells, and removing residual cancer cells following surgery. Radiation therapy uses X-rays to destroy cancerous mesothelial cells and shrink asbestos-related tumors. Photodynamic therapy, an experimental mesothelioma treatment, destroys cancer cells by using energy from light and may be effective when combined with surgery. Immunotherapy, or biological therapy, treats cancer by using the body’s own immune system to fight cancer cells. Promising clinical studies are underway for the use of immunotherapy in mesothelioma treatment.
Types of Mesothelioma Lawsuits
There are two types of mesothelioma lawsuits:
- Personal Injury Claims – Mesothelioma victims may file a lawsuit for damages that include medical expenses, loss of income, and pain and suffering.
- Wrongful Death Lawsuit – The survivor of a mesothelioma victim may be able to file a wrongful death claim.
If you have a recent asbestos cancer diagnosis, including mesothelioma, or know of a family member who does, we encourage you to contact a mesothelioma lawyer. You have a right to compensation from those companies that knowingly placed you and your family at risk for this serious and deadly disease. You have only a limited time after your diagnosis to file a claim, so you must act quickly.