Over 3,000 new cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed by doctors every year across the United States. The disease resulted in the death of over 2500 people in 2010 alone, and over 17,500 people from 2004-2010. Although asbestos is rarely used in the United States today, the cancer it causes still continues to affect thousands. Here’s what you need to know about mesothelioma, and how to take action if you or a loved one have been affected by this deadly disease.
What Is Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is a specific type of lung cancer that primarily affects individuals who have been exposed to asbestos. It takes approximately 20 to 50 years after exposure to asbestos for mesothelioma to develop, making it more difficult to trace the cause of exposure.
Asbestos is a naturally occurring, flame retardant material that was commonly used in construction, maritime, commercial and industrial settings such as shipyards, oil refineries and automotive repair shops. When handled, tiny asbestos particles, dusts and fibers are breathed in to the lungs, where they migrate through the lymphatic system and become lodge in the mesothelial tissue of the pleura, a thin membrane that surrounds the lungs, heart and peritoneum. Over time, the asbestos particles, dusts and fibers cause damage to the body’s mesothelial cells resulting in tumors and malignancy. Tumors are the most common result of asbestos damage in the lungs, however, asbestos can also become lodged in the abdominal cavity and cause peritoneal mesothelioma. Although rare, mesothelioma can also occur in the pericardium (the outer layer of tissue that protects the heart) and the testicles.
Who Gets Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is most commonly seen in individuals who spent time working in maritime, construction, commercial and industrial settings prior to the 1980’s. Men and women who worked in shipyards, built houses, or worked in automobile repair facilities before asbestos was outlawed are likely to have been a victim of asbestos exposure and may go on to develop mesothelioma.
How Is Mesothelioma Diagnosed?
It generally takes decades for mesothelioma to begin manifesting symptoms, and even then, symptoms may be mild or even unnoticeable. An individual may notice fatigue or unusual tiredness early in the onset of the disease, or may notice some pain around the site of the tumor. Once the disease has progressed, symptoms become much more noticeable and can include difficulty breathing, severe pain near the tumor site, and weight loss.
The most effective tests used to detect mesothelioma are biopsies, but other tests are sometimes employed, such as BAL (bronchoalveolar lavage), imaging scans, like x-rays or MRI’s. If an imaging test result is abnormal, a doctor will likely recommend that a biopsy of the mass be performed to detect malignancy. If an individual’s biopsy tests positive for mesothelioma, a confirmed diagnosis can be made and the cancer can be staged according to the growth of the tumor and presence of symptoms.
What Legal Options Do I Have if I Have Been Diagnosed With Mesothelioma?
If you or a loved one have a confirmed mesothelioma diagnosis, it’s critical that you take action immediately. Financial compensation may be available for yourself and your family by tracing your exposure to asbestos to the original source. Veterans’ Benefits may be available for those whose asbestos exposure can be linked to the military, and if the company you worked for has a trust fund set up, you may have access to that as well. Depending on your case, pursuing a personal injury lawsuit may also be a smart move.
Mesothelioma treatment is costly, and obtaining funding for surgical procedures and therapy is a high priority. Ensuring that your family will be well taken care of regardless of the outcome is also imperative. By working with an experienced Northern California mesothelioma attorney, you can begin learning about the legal options you have available to you.
Attorney Stephen Healy has obtained millions of dollars in personal injury settlements for his clients, and can bring a unique level of expertise and dedication to your mesothelioma case. To discover more about mesothelioma and what you can do to ease the burden of this disease on your loved ones, contact Attorney Healy for a consultation today by calling (844) 466-3768.