What is asbestos?
Asbestos is a fibrous mineral often used in past construction, engineering and scientific industries for various insulation purposes. Individuals exposed to this mineral are prone to a number of health hazards as its fibers are friable, meaning they easily fragment into tiny particles and can be easily inhaled, embedding in bodily tissues and acting as a carcinogen.
What is mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that is overwhelmingly linked to exposure to asbestos. It can affect the lining of the lungs, abdomen or heart, as well as other areas of the body. There are approximately 2,000 to 3,000 new cases of mesothelioma diagnosed in the United States every year. Prognosis associated with this form of cancer is generally unfavorable, as the cancer is likely to be diagnosed in the later stages.
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What are the symptoms of mesothelioma?
A patient with mesothelioma may experience shortness of breath, coughing up blood and chest pain, as well as fatigue and weight loss. These common symptoms are similar to other health disorders and the natural signs of aging, making it difficult to diagnose. The various forms of mesothelioma can exhibit different symptoms depending on the location of the tumor within the body.
Are there different types of mesothelioma?
There are three main types of mesothelioma that affect different areas of the body. Pleural mesothelioma is the most common form, affecting the lining of the lungs and chest cavity. Peritoneal mesothelioma attacks the lining of the abdomen. And a rare form, pericardial mesothelioma, causes damage to the protective sac that covers and lubricates the heart. Cases of mesothelioma which affect the tunica vaginalis, the lining of the testes, have also been reported, but are generally uncommon. The types of mesothelioma are indicative of the disease’s point of origin.
Who is at risk for exposure to asbestos?
People who have worked in the asbestos, shipbuilding and construction industries are at a greater risk for asbestos exposure. However, anyone in a location containing asbestos is at a risk for developing health issues. There are over 3,000 known products with asbestos material, to which millions of people have been exposed. This form of cancer is typically diagnosed within older males, but has also been diagnosed in younger males, women and children.
Why is asbestos dangerous?
The small size of asbestos particles is dangerous because they can easily become airborne. Once airborne these particles can then be inhaled and imbed themselves in the body’s tissues, where damage to the cellular structure of internal organs, particularly the lungs, begins.
How does asbestos cause mesothelioma?
The exact mechanism by which asbestos fibers cause cancer is still being debated. It is known that, once lodged in tissues of the body, the fibers cause inflammation and cellular damage. Over time, it is thought that the fibers either physically or chemically alter the cells' DNA, causing the cells unnaturally and rapidly, leading to malignancy.
Is mesothelioma the only disease or illness caused by asbestos exposure?
Mesothelioma is not the only disease that is caused by asbestos exposure, although it is the most fatal. Asbestosis is another condition that is caused by inhaling asbestos particles, as well as lung cancer.
What is asbestosis?
The accumulation of scar tissue in the lungs from asbestos particles causes asbestosis. Over a period of time, the lung becomes overwhelmed from the scar tissue, causing lung and heart failure.
Are treatments or cures available for asbestos-related illnesses?
Currently, no cure exists for either mesothelioma or asbestosis. Most treatments are palliative in nature, and are aimed at improving the patient’s quality of life. However, medical science is continuously making advances to diagnose and produce treatments for these devastating, often deadly, conditions. Sometimes clinical trials are available for cancers such as mesothelioma.
Can tobacco use cause mesothelioma?
Cigarettes are not a cause of mesothelioma. However, individuals who are exposed to asbestos should not smoke, as the combination has a synergistic effect.
What should I do if I am diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease?
A patient diagnosed with mesothelioma should adhere to the treatment plan organized by their doctors and specialists. One can also contact an attorney to see if legal action against the responsible party is a possibility.
Is there a statute of limitations for filing a claim?
Yes. Each state has statutes of limitation laws which restrict the amount of time you have to initiate a claim. An attorney with expertise and experience in mesothelioma lawsuits will be able to determine the specifics regarding your case as they pertain to the state.
How do I afford an attorney?
Most attorneys who specialize in mesothelioma lawsuits work on a contingency fee, meaning no fees, court costs or expenses (with the exception of unpaid medical bills) are paid until you win.