Commonly Asked Questions About Mesothelioma
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- What is Mesothelioma? What is the difference between pleural mesothelioma and peritoneal mesothelioma?
Malignant mesothelioma is a disease in which a cancerous tumor grows on the mesothelium – the sac lining the internal body cavities. The specific type of mesothelioma is named for the tissue where the cancer started. Pleural mesothelioma starts in the chest, in the pleura that surrounds the lungs (outer lining of the lungs and internal chest wall). It makes up about 70% of mesothelioma cases. Peritoneal mesothelioma starts in the lining of the abdominal cavity.
- What are the symptoms of mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma begins as small nodules on the lining of lungs. These nodules grow larger and slowly cover the entire pleural lining, eventually completely encasing the lungs. In earlier stages of tumor growth, symptoms are non-specific such as fever and night sweats. Initially, the disease may be mistaken for pneumonia. Gradually increasing tumors often lead to accumulation of fluid into the pleural cavity (known as pleural effusion). The right sided chest involvement is slightly more common. The fluid compresses the lungs and leads to progressive shortness of breath and dry cough. Sometimes, a large amount of fluid accumulates rapidly within hours leading to a sudden onset of breathlessness. In advanced cases, patients may complain of chest pain due to a spread of the cancer to the bony chest wall.
- Who is at risk of asbestos exposure?
Those at greatest risk for asbestos exposure are people who worked in the asbestos, construction, and shipbuilding industries. Millions of people have suffered exposure to asbestos due the proliferation of the over 3000 products know to contain asbestos.
- How much exposure does it take to get the disease? What is the latency period?
Very little exposure can result in mesothelioma. Sometimes people who worked with asbestos for as little as one or two months get mesothelioma. The “latency period” refers to the time between asbestos exposure and diagnosis of the disease. For mesothelioma, the latency period can be decades long, and people exposed in the 1940s, 50s, 60s, and 70s are now being diagnosed.
- How common is mesothelioma?
Approximately 3,300 new cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed in the United States each year according to a report published in 2008. Data as to incidence vary considerably, but the annual incidence of mesothelioma in the adult male population of the United States is estimated to be 7 to 13 per million. Mesothelioma is 5 times more common in men than in women. It is often diagnosed at 60 to 70 years of age but the disease can appear in either men or women at any age. 2,000 Americans die each year as a result of mesothelioma.
- Does exposure to asbestos only lead to mesothelioma?
While mesothelioma is sadly a common consequence of asbestos exposure, it is not the only condition caused by this deadly material. Another condition called asbestosis is often caused by inhaling asbestos particles.
- What is asbestosis?
Asbestosis is the accumulation of scar tissue in the lungs caused by asbestos particles. Over time, this scar tissue will overwhelm the lung and cause lung and heart failure.
- What treatments are available for victims of asbestos-related illnesses?
While the there are no cures for mesothelioma or asbestosis, medical science makes advances every day in diagnosing and treating these devastating conditions.
- What are clinical trials, and how do they affect mesothelioma patients?
A clinical trial is a research study using volunteers. A clinical trial tests the effectiveness and safety of a new procedure or drug, including proper dosage and side effects. Taking part in a clinical trial may prolong or improve a mesothelioma patient’s life. On the other hand, clinical trials deal with experimental drugs or procedures that may have negative results or be ineffective.
- What should people do if diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease?
Victims should follow all the directions of their doctors, but they should also contact an attorney to see if they have reason to pursue legal action against the party responsible for their injuries.
Do I have a Mesothelioma Lawsuit?
The Toxic Tort Litigation Group at our law firm is an experienced team of trial lawyers that focus exclusively on the representation of plaintiffs in asbestos-related mesothelioma lawsuits. We are handling individual litigation nationwide and currently accepting new cases in all 50 states.