Everything you need to know about Mesothelioma (TYPES, CAUSES, TREATMENT, MESOTHELIOMA LAWYER): Mesothelioma is a malignant tumor that is caused by inhaled asbestos fibers and forms in the lining of the lungs, abdomen or heart. Symptoms can include shortness of breath and chest pain. The life expectancy for most mesothelioma patients is approximately 12 months after diagnosis. Treatment may improve prognosis and can include surgery, chemotherapy or radiation, getting Mesothelioma Lawyer is also important.
Mesothelioma is an aggressive and deadly form of cancer, it’s a can of sickness we don’t wish anybody to suffer, because for many people with mesothelioma, a cure isn’t possible in this post, we bring you everything you need to know about mesothelioma.
What is mesothelioma
Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that develops from the thin layer of tissue that covers many of the internal organs (known as the mesothelium). The most common area affected is the lining of the lungs and chest wall. Less commonly the lining of the abdomen and rarely the sac surrounding the heart, or the sac surrounding the testis may be affected. Signs and symptoms of mesothelioma may include shortness of breath due to fluid around the lung, a swollen abdomen, chest wall pain, cough, feeling tired, and weight loss.These symptoms typically come on slowly.
More than 80% of mesothelioma cases are caused by exposure to asbestos. The greater the exposure the greater the risk. As of 2013, about 125 million people worldwide have been exposed to asbestos at work. High rates of disease occur in people who mine asbestos, produce products from asbestos, work with asbestos products, live with asbestos workers, or work in buildings containing asbestos. Asbestos exposure and the onset of cancer are generally separated by about 40 years. Washing the clothing of someone who worked with asbestos also increases the risk. Other risk factors include genetics and infection with the simian virus 40. The diagnosis may be suspected based on chest X-ray and CT scan findings, and is confirmed by either examining fluid produced by the cancer or by a tissue biopsy of the cancer.
Prevention centers around reducing exposure to asbestos. Treatment often includes surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. A procedure known as pleurodesis, which involves using substances such as talc to scar together the pleura, may be used to prevent more fluid from building up around the lungs. Chemotherapy often includes the medications cisplatin and pemetrexed. The percentage of people that survive five years following diagnosis is on average 8% in the United States.
In 2015, about 60,800 people had mesothelioma, and 32,000 died from the disease. Rates of mesothelioma vary in different areas of the world. Rates are higher in Australia, the United Kingdom, and lower in Japan. It occurs in about 3,000 people per year in the United States. It occurs more often in males than females. Rates of disease have increased since the 1950s. Diagnosis typically occurs after the age of 65 and most deaths occur around 70 years old. The disease was rare before the commercial use of asbestos.
Working with asbestos is the most common risk factor for mesothelioma. However, mesothelioma has been reported in some individuals without any known exposure to asbestos. Tentative evidence also raises concern about carbon-fibre nanotubes.
Signs and symptoms of Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma that affects the pleura can cause these signs and symptoms:
- Pleural effusion, or fluid surrounding the lung
- Shortness of breath – which could be due to a collapsed lung
- Fatigue or anemia
- Wheezing, hoarseness, or a cough
- Blood in the sputum (fluid) coughed up (hemoptysis)
- Dry coughing
- Respiratory complications
- Pain in the chest or abdomen
- Fever or night sweats
- Weakness in the muscles
- Weight loss for no reason
In severe cases, the person may have many tumor masses. The individual may develop a pneumothorax, or collapse of the lung. The disease may metastasize, or spread to other parts of the body.
Diagnosis: Imaging Tests
Your doctor may ask questions about your health history, then give you a physical to look for lumps or fluid buildup in your chest or belly. He also may want to get a closer look at your lungs with a chest X-ray. Depending on what that shows, he may recommend a scan to see where the tumor may be and if it has spread. This might be a computerized tomography (CT) scan, when several X-rays are taken from different angles and put together to make a more complete picture. Or he might suggest a positron emission tomography (PET) scan, which uses radiation to make 3-D color images.
The only way to know for sure if you have mesothelioma is for your doctor to take a sample of the tumor for testing. To do this, he might make one or two small cuts, then use a tiny camera and special tools to take the sample. Or he might take out some tissue or fluid with a needle. In some cases, your doctor might use open surgery, where he makes a larger opening in your body to get the sample.
Only pleural mesothelioma, the kind in your lungs, has stages. They tell you how advanced the cancer is and help your doctor know how to treat it.
Stage I: It’s in the lining of only one side of your chest wall.
Stage II: It has spread into the lining or tissue of your lung and diaphragm.
Stage III: It has moved deeper into your chest, maybe into lung muscle or lymph nodes.
Stage IV: It has spread throughout your chest or to other parts of your body.
Mesothelioma and Asbestos
Mesothelioma develops in the mesothelium, a thin membrane encompassing the body’s internal organs and cavities. It often takes 10 to 50 years for symptoms to manifest, making it difficult to pinpoint the cause and challenging the possibility for early detection. In the majority of cases, the cause is exposure to asbestos.
Types of Mesothelioma
There are four primary types of malignant mesothelioma based on where the tumors initially develop following asbestos exposure: in the lining of the lungs (pleural), abdomen (peritoneal), heart (pericardial) or testicles (testicular).
Mesothelioma is further categorized by cell type, which can impact diagnosis, prognosis and available treatment options. The most common cell types for mesothelioma are sarcomatoid and epithelioid.
Mesothelioma Types by Location
Mesothelioma cancer forms after a person has been exposed to asbestos fibers. Years after initial exposure has occurred, abnormal cells begin to grow and multiply in the mesothelium, a thin layer of cells lining the outside of internal organs, including the lungs, heart, abdomen and testicles. The location of the tumors is the primary method for determining the type of mesothelioma.
Pleural Mesothelioma (Lungs)
Pleural mesothelioma forms in the lining of the lungs, known as the pleura, and is the most common form of the aggressive disease. Approximately 80% of all diagnosed cases of mesothelioma are pleural, and the disease is often not definitively diagnosed until it has progressed into its later stages.
Symptoms associated with pleural mesothelioma include shortness of breath, coughing, chest pain and fatigue, which are sometimes misattributed to other diseases, like lung cancer. Nonspecific symptoms, along with the long latency period after exposure to asbestos, complicate diagnosis. On average, pleural mesothelioma patients survive six to twelve months after diagnosis, with a one-year survival rate of about 73% and five-year survival rate of about 5%.
Peritoneal Mesothelioma (Abdomen)
Peritoneal mesothelioma is the second-most common type of the cancer and is diagnosed in about 15-20% of all mesothelioma cases. Cancer cells grow in the lining of the abdominal cavity, known as the peritoneum, causing symptoms like abdominal pain and swelling, weight loss and fluid in the abdomen.
Though the general prognosis for peritoneal mesothelioma is poor, patients have a better life expectancy than other forms of the disease thanks to advancements in treatment, like surgery combined with hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC). Peritoneal mesothelioma patients have a one-year survival rate of 92%. In addition, at least 50% of patients who undergo surgery combined with HIPEC will live five years or more.
Pericardial Mesothelioma (Heart)
Pericardial mesothelioma is a very rare form of the cancer and is diagnosed in less than 50 people in the United States each year, accounting for about 1% of the total number of cases. Mesothelioma tumors form in the lining of the heart sac, called the pericardium, causing symptoms like chest pain, fluid buildup and arrhythmia.
Because of the tumors’ proximity to the heart, patients may experience severe symptoms even at early stages. Due to its rarity, the general prognosis for pericardial mesothelioma is very poor. Patients survive six months on average, with a one-year survival rate of 51%. In most cases, pericardial mesothelioma patients only have palliative care options available to help alleviate symptoms.
Testicular mesothelioma is diagnosed in less than one percent of all cases and there are only about 100 diagnosed cases described in medical literature. The cancer develops in the tunica vaginalis, the lining of the testicles, and typically presents symptoms like testicle pain, a mass on the testicle, and scrotal swelling caused by fluid buildup.
Patients with this type of mesothelioma have a better life expectancy than other forms, with an average prognosis of about two years. However, studies have shown that testicular mesothelioma does have a high rate of recurrence, including almost 93% of patients within five years of their initial diagnosis.
Mesothelioma Cell Types
There are three main types of mesothelioma cells: epithelial, sarcomatoid, and biphasic. Depending on the type of cells found during lab tests, treatment options and life expectancy will change. Because epithelioid cells and sarcomatoid cells respond differently to certain treatments, cell type is often taken into account when a mesothelioma specialist creates a treatment plan.
Epithelioid mesothelioma is the most common cell type and makes up about 75% of all mesothelioma cases. This cell type usually responds well to treatment and provides patients with a better prognosis than the other two cell types, with an average life expectancy of 12 to 24 months.
The most dangerous and difficult to treat of the three cell types, sarcomatoid mesothelioma accounts for about 10-20% of all diagnosed mesothelioma cases. These cells are associated with both pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma and, because of their aggressive growth, often leave patients with a very short prognosis of just six months.
When a patient has biphasic mesothelioma, both epithelial and sarcomatoid cells are present in the mesothelioma tumors. Because both types of cells are found, patients are often subject to varying prognoses, though it largely depends on which cells are more prevalent. Patients with more epithelial cells will likely have a better response to suggested treatments compared to those who have more sarcomatoid cells.
Rare Cell Types
Mesothelioma cells may also sometimes be classified as rare subtypes of epithelial or sarcomatoid mesothelioma, including adenoid, cystic, well-differentiated papillary and small cell mesothelioma. Depending on what subtype is identified, it may limit what treatments are available and the prognosis a patient is given at diagnosis.
Malignant vs. Benign Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma is categorized by the type of cells found in fluid or tissue samples taken from the body and can be either benign or malignant.
Benign mesothelioma is a non-cancerous form of the disease. These tumors have a low rate of recurrence and can often be completely resected with surgery. Benign tumors are typically localized, slow growing and non-invasive. They rarely metastasize to other parts of the body. In some cases, benign mesothelioma tumors may potentially become malignant, or cancerous.
Malignant mesothelioma makes up the vast majority of diagnosed cases. Malignant tumors often grow or spread quickly, which can limit viable treatment options. As such, patients with malignant mesothelioma live on average 12 to 21 months after diagnosis.
Mesothelioma Treatment by Type
Most mesothelioma patients will have several treatment options available to them depending on the type of disease. The three primary types of treatment available to patients include surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, though two or more treatments are often combined as part of a multimodal plan.
Patients who are diagnosed with early-stage mesothelioma and are in generally good health may be candidates for more radical treatments. These can include extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP), pleurectomy/decortication (P/D) or peritoneal cytoreductive surgery (CRS), along with intra-operative chemotherapy options like hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) and Pressurized Intraperitoneal Aerosol Chemotherapy (PIPAC). There are also immunotherapy and targeted therapy options available through ongoing clinical trials.
As the disease progresses, options become more limited because more aggressive approaches are not feasible and do not produce benefit. Chemotherapy and immunotherapy treatments then become the primary options. Patients who are too ill to receive any treatment are more appropriately given palliative options to reduce pain and receive end-of-life care.
Standard treatments for malignant mesothelioma include surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Treatment plans may incorporate a combination of the three, if possible for the patient. For cases where standard treatments do not work, mesothelioma patients may be able to participate in clinical trials to try experimental treatments.
There is no cure for mesothelioma, but it is possible for treatment to improve patient prognosis. Treatment options will vary based on the type of mesothelioma, patient characteristics and staging. For late-stage patients, there are alternative therapies and palliative care options that can help improve symptoms and quality of life.
Standard Mesothelioma Treatments
When determining which treatment type is best for the patient, mesothelioma doctors will consider mesothelioma type, cell type and patient characteristics. The patient’s age and overall health may limit what treatment options are viable. The stage of cancer is also an influential factor. If the disease is localized, more treatment options are available than if spreading has occurred.
For patients with an early-stage mesothelioma diagnosis, surgery can be used to remove all or most of the tumor(s). Depending on the tumor location, surgery may include removing the mesothelial lining, one or more lymph nodes, or part or all of a lung or other organ. Radical mesothelioma surgeries that have shown success include a pleurectomy/decortication (P/D) and extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP).
Your doctor’s recommendation will depend on the cancer’s stage (if it has one), your overall health, and how well your lungs work. Surgery is the most common treatment. If you find it early enough, your doctor may be able take out all the cancer. Even if he can’t, surgery can help with symptoms like pain, trouble breathing, and fluid buildup.
Chemotherapy drugs work by attacking fast-growing cells, such as cancer cells. Often used in conjunction with surgery, chemotherapy can kill any remaining mesothelioma cells and help prevent recurrence.
Through the use of targeted radiation, mesothelioma cells can be killed after surgery, or in situations where tumors are causing symptoms like pain. Two types of radiation for mesothelioma include external beam radiation therapy (EBRT) and intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT).
For this, doctors use beams of high energy to kill cancer cells. It’s sometimes used after surgery to kill off any that are left behind. You can also get it to ease symptoms like pain, trouble breathing, or problems swallowing. It’s usually given in doses that last just a few minutes. Side effects can include feeling more tired than usual, shortness of breath, and upset stomach.
In many cases, mesothelioma specialists will recommend a multimodal approach, which combines surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy, or even emerging treatments in some cases. In various studies, multimodal treatment has been shown to be more effective than any of the individual treatments alone. In particular, surgery combined with hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC), a heated chemotherapy wash applied directly to the abdominal cavity, has demonstrated around a 50% survival rate or higher for peritoneal mesothelioma patients in recent clinical studies. With aggressive multimodal plans, patients should be aware of all potential treatment side effects.
When conducting a multimodal treatment plan, doctors will refer to treatments as neoadjuvant, primary or adjuvant. The three types of treatments are determined based on the order that they are performed.
Neoadjuvant therapy: Used before the primary treatment to shrink or reduce tumor size (commonly radiation or chemotherapy).
Primary treatment: The main treatment type, used to remove as much of the cancer as possible (commonly surgery).
Adjuvant therapy: Treatment performed after the primary treatment to kill remaining cancer cells (commonly chemotherapy).
Clinical Trials and Experimental Treatments
Researchers and specialists continue to make advances in mesothelioma research, with efforts towards finding a cure and more effective treatment options. Before a treatment becomes approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and readily available to all patients, it’s considered an experimental treatment and only offered through clinical trials. Experimental treatments have the potential to become a standard care option if proven successful.
Malignant mesothelioma patients must meet certain criteria in order to be eligible to participate in a clinical trial. In most cases, emerging treatments are designed for patients that are in the late stages of their diagnosis and/or if the cancer is not responding to standard treatment options. Emerging treatments may be able to extend life expectancies for patients, however, patients still must meet other criteria specific to the trial, which can include a particular type and cell type, stage of disease or prior treatments received. Ultimately, patients should discuss their options with their mesothelioma doctor to understand eligibility.
Immunotherapy has been shown to be successful in treating mesothelioma and other diseases by boosting the immune system. Used on its own or when combined with standard treatments like chemotherapy, immunotherapy has shown promising success in the treatment of mesothelioma, in some cases extending life expectancy by months or even years.
The effectiveness of different immunotherapy drugs continues to be tested, particularly when used during a multimodal treatment plan. Types of immunotherapy include:
- Adoptive cell therapy
- Cancer vaccines
- Checkpoint inhibitors
- Monoclonal antibodies
Gene therapy is another emerging treatment that has shown promise in treating malignant mesothelioma for some patients. Gene therapy works by repairing the genetic structure or function of cells. If repair is successful, it can potentially treat the disease or help prevent the development of diseases without as many side effects as treatments like chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Types of gene therapy include:
- Gene transfer
- Genetic virotherapy
- Oncolytic viruses
Palliative Mesothelioma Treatments
Palliative mesothelioma treatments may be used on their own or in conjunction with standard treatment options. These treatments aren’t used to treat the cancer, but rather to improve symptoms and quality of life for patients.
Common palliative treatments include pleurocentesis and paracentesis, which are used to drain excess fluid buildup around the lungs or abdomen. This helps alleviate symptoms associated with the fluid buildup, including chest or abdominal pain, difficulty breathing and shortness of breath.
Palliative treatments can be invasive or non-invasive, including anything from pain medication to physical therapy, massage, acupuncture, yoga and other alternative therapies. Mesothelioma patients may undergo palliative care during their treatment journey, as their sole treatment plan during the late stages of their diagnosis or after treatment.
No matter what type of treatment patients pursue, they should discuss all options with their medical care team to understand what is best for their individual case. This can also provide an idea of potential treatment costs for financial planning and decision-making.
The incidence of mesothelioma has been found to be higher in populations living near naturally occurring asbestos. People can be exposed to naturally occurring asbestos in areas where mining or road construction is occurring, or when the asbestos-containing rock is naturally weathered. Another common route of exposure is through asbestos-containing soil, which is used to whitewash, plaster, and roof houses in Greece.
In central Cappadocia, Turkey, mesothelioma was causing 50% of all deaths in three small villages—Tuzköy, Karain, and Sarıhıdır. Initially, this was attributed to erionite. Environmental exposure to asbestos has caused mesothelioma in places other than Turkey, including Corsica, Greece, Cyprus, China, and California.
In the northern Greek mountain town of Metsovo, this exposure had resulted in mesothelioma incidence around 300 times more than expected in asbestos-free populations, and was associated with very frequent pleural calcification known as “Metsovo Lung”.
The documented presence of asbestos fibers in water supplies and food products has fostered concerns about the possible impact of long-term and, as yet, unknown exposure of the general population to these fibers.
Exposure to talc is also a risk factor for mesothelioma; exposure can affect those who live near talc mines, work in talc mines, or work in talc mills.
In the United States, asbestos is considered the major cause of malignant mesothelioma and has been considered “indisputably” associated with the development of mesothelioma. Indeed, the relationship between asbestos and mesothelioma is so strong that many consider mesothelioma a “signal” or “sentinel” tumor.
A history of asbestos exposure exists in most cases.
Pericardial mesothelioma may not be associated with asbestos exposure.
Asbestos was known in antiquity, but it was not mined and widely used commercially until the late 19th century. Its use greatly increased during World War II. Since the early 1940s, millions of American workers have been exposed to asbestos dust. Initially, the risks associated with asbestos exposure were not publicly known. However, an increased risk of developing mesothelioma was later found among naval personnel (e.g., Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard), shipyard workers, people who work in asbestos mines and mills, producers of asbestos products, workers in the heating and construction industries, and other tradespeople.
Today, the official position of the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the U.S. EPA is that protections and “permissible exposure limits” required by U.S. regulations, while adequate to prevent most asbestos-related non-malignant disease, are not adequate to prevent or protect against asbestos-related cancers such as mesothelioma. Likewise, the British Government’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) states formally that any threshold for exposure to asbestos must be at a very low level and it is widely agreed that if any such threshold does exist at all, then it cannot currently be quantified. For practical purposes, therefore, HSE assumes that no such “safe” threshold exists. Others have noted as well that there is no evidence of a threshold level below which there is no risk of mesothelioma.
There appears to be a linear, dose–response relationship, with increasing dose producing increasing risk of disease. Nevertheless, mesothelioma may be related to brief, low level or indirect exposures to asbestos. The dose necessary for effect appears to be lower for asbestos-induced mesothelioma than for pulmonary asbestosis or lung cancer. Again, there is no known safe level of exposure to asbestos as it relates to increased risk of mesothelioma.
The time from first exposure to onset of the disease, is between 25 and 70 years. It is virtually never less than fifteen years and peaks at 30–40 years. The duration of exposure to asbestos causing mesothelioma can be short. For example, cases of mesothelioma have been documented with only 1–3 months of exposure.
Asbestos is a natural mineral that can cause serious health problems, like malignant mesothelioma, when fibers become airborne. Exposure most often occurs in the workplace, but can happen to anyone who comes into contact with asbestos in homes, buildings and various products. Since the mineral is not banned, asbestos exposure is still a health threat in the United States.
Asbestos was widely used in thousands of products, including everything from construction materials to consumer goods. Individuals are most commonly exposed to asbestos in the workplace, but environmental exposure, product exposure and secondary exposure are all continued risks to the general public. Research estimates millions of people are still exposed to asbestos each year, which can result in serious health effects, including mesothelioma cancer, decades after initial exposure.
What is Asbestos?
Asbestos refers to six naturally occurring fibrous minerals that are heat- and fire-resistant. Once deemed a miracle material, asbestos has been used in various applications for many years, especially in construction. Asbestos was often used in insulation and other building materials for homes, schools and commercial buildings. The mineral was also used throughout a variety of other industries, like shipbuilding, oil refineries, various industrial plants and in the automotive industry.
When the asbestos materials become damaged, however, fibers can be easily inhaled and eventually develop into serious health problems such as mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis. Despite asbestos being recognized as a carcinogen by at least the 1940s, the mineral was widely used throughout many industries through the 1970s. Today, the toxin is still allowed in certain products and industries in small amounts, leaving the public at risk of dangerous exposure.
Different Types of Asbestos Exposure
Asbestos exposure can happen to anyone, and it can often go unknown for many years, as symptoms of asbestos diseases can take decades to first present. Exposure is most common in the workplace. Depending on the field in which workers are employed, their risk of being exposed to asbestos could be higher than other occupations. Although asbestos is most commonly found on specific jobsites, individuals may also be exposed from household products or from damaged asbestos in homes and other buildings. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), there is no safe level of asbestos exposure.
Many workers and maintenance contractors at industrial and commercial jobsites are subjected to dangerous levels of asbestos while on the job. Due to the high-heat environments of sites such as steel mills, breweries, power plants and oil refineries, workers are often exposed to asbestos-containing materials, even in industries that no longer actively rely on the mineral. Some workers even wore heat-resistant protective equipment made with the mineral, leaving them at an increased risk.
Hundreds of companies across these and other industries used asbestos for decades, despite knowing the dangers. Historical records show many employers were aware of the dangers of exposure but continued to utilize asbestos for processes and products because it was inexpensive. Because of this neglect, estimates show at least 27 million workers in various occupations were exposed to harmful asbestos between 1940 and 1979. Research has shown worldwide at least 125 million workers continue to be exposed to asbestos on the job each year. Occupational asbestos exposure is one of the most common causes of mesothelioma, accounting for 70% of all mesothelioma deaths.
Asbestos was used across all branches of the military, most commonly in the construction of military ships, in vehicles and aircraft and even throughout military bases. Estimates show at least 4.2 million civilians and veterans worked in shipyards during World War II alone. Due to the abundant use of asbestos and confined spaces of many military vessels, asbestos exposure was almost unavoidable for millions of military personnel. Because of this, one out of every three mesothelioma diagnoses is a veteran who was exposed to asbestos during their time of service.
Many companies put consumers at risk by manufacturing and distributing asbestos products in the 1900s. While some materials, like insulation and siding, were largely only in direct use by certain industries, consumer goods like hair dryers and crock pots also frequently contained asbestos. Though today there are regulations in place to discontinue the use of asbestos in many of these goods, certain products like insulation can still contain up to 1% of asbestos.
Talc is a natural mineral that is generally deemed safe, but it can pose dangers when it becomes contaminated by asbestos. Since talc and asbestos deposits occur naturally in similar areas, talc can easily become contaminated with asbestos fibers when mining, which can eventually make its way into talcum powder products. Products, such as cosmetics and baby powder, are now tested for asbestos, but workers and consumers may have been exposed for years, whether through mining or applying topical asbestos-containing products to the body. Although many instances of cancer from talcum powder have involved consumers developing ovarian cancer, mesothelioma and lung cancer cases are also emerging.
Occupational exposure does not only impact workers, but the exposure also has the potential to extend to their family members and others. Secondary exposure accounts for about 20% of mesothelioma cases and occurs when individuals who work in asbestos-contaminated environments bring home asbestos fibers on their clothes, skin or hair. Fibers can cling onto fabrics and skin, making them transferable to those who may not have been exposed otherwise. Women are often the victims of asbestos-related disease as a result of secondary exposure, as in the past, they have typically been less likely to be on the jobsites.
Asbestos Exposure in the United States
Asbestos use was widespread across the country. Certain states, like California, have high quantities of natural asbestos deposits. Other states, like New York, have high rates of mesothelioma because there are numerous industries and jobsites with known asbestos use. Learn more about how your state is impacted by asbestos.
Health Risks of Asbestos Exposure
When asbestos fibers are inhaled, they can easily become stuck in the linings of the lung, abdomen or heart. Because the fibers are so durable, the body isn’t able to break them down. Over time, asbestos fibers can cause scarring and inflammation, which may eventually lead to tumors. In addition to several types of asbestos cancer, the mineral may also cause chronic lung diseases, like asbestosis. Asbestos-related illnesses like mesothelioma often have a latency period of 10 – 50 years before symptoms like shortness of breath start to show, making them difficult to diagnose and treat.
Preventing Asbestos Exposure
Although asbestos is not yet banned on a national level, there are both federal and state laws in place regarding asbestos use and safe removal. In order to support occupational safety and protect the general public, the EPA and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) also have strict guidelines and safety procedures in place to help prevent exposure on the job and from public buildings.
For individuals and homeowners, it’s also important to abide by asbestos abatement laws. Removal of asbestos materials should never be attempted by anyone other than a certified professional, who is trained and understands the local, state and federal regulations to ensure the toxin is properly disposed of. The proper handling of remaining materials that contain asbestos is essential to preventing exposure. It’s important to remember that any amount of asbestos exposure is considered dangerous, and avoiding contact with the toxin is vital to preventing diseases like mesothelioma.
Can You Prevent it?
If your home was built before 1978, be careful when you’re working on it — it’s more likely to have asbestos. If you’re not sure if your home has problem areas, have an expert check. It’s usually safer to leave asbestos in place than to try to take it out.
Mesothelioma Doctors and Cancer Centers
Not all physicians have experience treating mesothelioma cancer. There are mesothelioma doctors around the United States who have experience treating the disease with extensive knowledge regarding the best treatment options, new treatment advances and palliative care to potentially extend patient survival and improve quality of life. Some mesothelioma experts specialize in particular types of the disease. Thoracic oncologists specialize in cancers of the chest with expertise specific to pleural mesothelioma and pericardial mesothelioma. Some specialize particularly in peritoneal mesothelioma.
If a patient is diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, they’ll likely be referred by their primary health care physician to a larger scale comprehensive cancer institute. Comprehensive cancer centers will be able to provide the most up-to-date cancer treatments, as well as access to different clinical trials. Cancer centers are located throughout the country, and many are linked to top medical universities.
A reputable mesothelioma lawyer will help you receive compensation to pay for treatments, living expenses and other costs related to your mesothelioma diagnosis. The ideal mesothelioma lawyer or law firm should have a solid track record of top jury awards and mesothelioma settlement amounts, demonstrating their familiarity with asbestos laws and litigation in your state.
Finding an experienced mesothelioma lawyer is crucial to getting the compensation you deserve. A good mesothelioma lawyer should have drive, dedication and determination to fight hard on your behalf, for the best financial compensation possible, all while demonstrating compassion and understanding for you and your family as you go through the legal process together.
How a Mesothelioma Lawyer Can Help You
Whether you’re a patient diagnosed with mesothelioma or a family member looking after someone who has been diagnosed, there are many ways that a mesothelioma lawyer can help you. From simply providing information on how to pursue legal action to performing detailed research, a good lawyer can offer assistance at any step during the legal process.
A Free Consultation: A reputable lawyer will offer you a free case review, which will offer insight into your eligibility for a case, options for compensation and details on how to move forward with the process, if you decide to file a mesothelioma lawsuit.
Available Compensation: A mesothelioma attorney can help you understand the many types of financial compensation that may be available to you, including settlements, verdicts and asbestos trust fund claims.
Focused Legal Support: Mesothelioma lawyers have experience handling similar asbestos cases, understand past successful trials and current trials, as well as have knowledge on how to build the most effective cases.
Research Assistance: Your lawyer can help you gather a variety of information to support your case, including employment, union, military, residential and medical records as evidence of asbestos exposure. They will also help you with depositions and witness or expert testimonies to support your case. A mesothelioma lawyer will also have experience gathering evidence for mesothelioma cases where time and cause of exposure are unknown.
Venue Selection: A mesothelioma lawyer will coordinate scheduling and location needs to determine where your claim should be submitted and where your legal proceedings will be held.
Case Management: Your mesothelioma lawyer will manage your case, performing necessary research and handlings, while keeping you informed on any potential developments. Effective case management will give you and your family the opportunity to focus on treatment, often allowing you to avoid travel and court appearances, as well.
Mesothelioma and the Law
There are many legal questions that you may have when considering filing a mesothelioma claim and throughout the legal process. Below are a list of questions to consider, as well as resources to better your understanding. A mesothelioma lawyer can also provide you with personalized advice for your individual case.
Top Mesothelioma Law Firms in the U.S.
It’s crucial for patients to choose a lawyer with experience in mesothelioma litigation. The best asbestos lawyers work for national mesothelioma law firms, granting them access to a range of resources and information that smaller, less experienced lawyers are unlikely to have, giving you the best chance at gaining the compensation you deserve.
Early, Lucarelli, Sweeney & Meisenkothen
Early, Lucarelli, Sweeney and Meisenkothen is a national law firm recognized for its representation of over 3,000 hard-working men and women who have been exposed to asbestos and diagnosed with mesothelioma. ELSM’s experience in asbestos litigation spans four decades.
Gori Julian & Associates, P.C.
At Gori Julian and Associates, P.C., we have handled hundreds of mesothelioma lawsuits on behalf of people throughout the United States. This experience allows us to choose jurisdiction in which to file your case based on many factors including, but not limited to, state of residence, job sites and previous and current employers.
Simmons Hanly Conroy
As one of the nation’s leading mesothelioma law firms, Simmons Hanly Conroy has a proven track record. Every mesothelioma lawyer at the firm is committed to helping families affected by mesothelioma and asbestos-related diseases.
Commonly Asked Mesothelioma Lawyer Questions
Asbestos laws and litigation can be complex and difficult to understand if you’ve never had any legal experiences. A mesothelioma lawyer can provide you with a free consultation to get answers to all of your questions, while also giving you an idea of what to expect if you decide to pursue an asbestos lawsuit.
Below is a list of common questions mesothelioma victims and their loved ones may ask when considering their legal options, however, it’s important to note that details may vary based on individual cases.
When should I hire a mesothelioma lawyer?
Patients or their loved ones should contact a mesothelioma lawyer as soon as possible after receiving a mesothelioma diagnosis. The statutes of limitations put deadlines in place for taking legal action, which could hinder your ability to receive compensation. Each state in the United States has its own statute of limitations. In general, patients often have 1 – 3 years after their diagnosis to take legal action.
An experienced asbestos attorney can help you and your family understand timelines, all of your legal rights and potential avenues for compensation. If you decide to pursue a lawsuit, your attorney can begin researching your case right away.
Am I eligible to file a mesothelioma lawsuit?
Due to the long latency period of mesothelioma, some patients aren’t diagnosed until decades after exposure, making them wonder if it’s too late to file a mesothelioma lawsuit, especially if asbestos companies are no longer in business. However, asbestos trust funds are set up to provide victims with compensation for years to come, which mesothelioma lawyers have experience with.
Why should I hire a mesothelioma lawyer?
A lawyer that specializes in asbestos cases is different in that they have important experience dealing with similar cases. They understand the asbestos legislation, have experience gathering evidence related to asbestos exposure and know what to expect in terms of compensation for asbestos victims. Mesothelioma lawyers have experience gaining many different forms of compensation, including veterans’ benefits, settlements or verdicts from a mesothelioma lawsuit, claims against an asbestos trust fund and disability benefits.
How much does it cost to hire a mesothelioma lawyer?
If you hire a reputable law firm, you will receive a free case evaluation and usually face no up-front costs. Most mesothelioma lawsuits are handled on a contingency-fee basis, so you won’t have to pay any fees unless your case is won, and fees will not be due until you receive your compensation.
Costs will vary for each case, but if you don’t have to go to trial, expenses are usually 3 – 5% of your award. Experienced lawyers and law firms know how to keep costs down, understanding the financial burden that you and your family are already facing.
How long will it take to receive compensation after I hire a lawyer?
Every individual case is different, so there is no way to tell exactly how long it might take to receive compensation from a particular claim. It can take months just to gather the appropriate information and documents necessary to simply file a claim. Once the claim is filed, the timeframe to reach a settlement or, if you go to trial, receive a jury award may range from months to years.
An experienced mesothelioma lawyer will be able to provide a realistic idea of how long it may take for you to receive compensation once they know the details of your case. However, it should be understood that the actual timeframe for receiving compensation is an estimate and may be subject to change over the course of the legal proceedings.