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The tissue that lines your lungs, stomach, heart, and other organs is called mesothelium. Mesothelioma (me-zoe-thee-lee-O-muh) is a tumor of that tissue. Mesothelioma is an aggressive and deadly form of cancer.
Malignant mesothelioma is rare cancer that occurs in the thin layer of tissue that covers the majority of your internal organs (mesothelium). Mesothelioma treatments are available, but for many people diagnosed with mesothelioma, a cure is not possible. Doctors divide mesothelioma into different types based on what part of the mesothelium is affected. It most often affects the tissue that surrounds the lungs (pleura). This type is called pleural malignant mesothelioma. Other, rarer types of mesothelioma affect tissue in the abdomen (peritoneal mesothelioma), around the heart and around the testicles. Mesothelioma doesn’t include a form of noncancerous (benign) tumor that occurs in the chest and is sometimes called benign mesothelioma or solitary fibrous tumor.
Sometimes it is hard to tell the difference between malignant mesothelioma and lung cancer. Your doctor uses imaging tests and a biopsy to make the diagnosis. Malignant mesothelioma is often found when it is advanced. This makes it harder to treat. Treatment for a mesothelioma patient may include surgery, radiation, and/or chemotherapy.
Symptoms to watch for include:
If you suspect that you may have mesothelioma, you need to talk to your doctor and other medical experts promptly. Your doctor will first take your medical history and perform a physical exam, and then decide if you need additional testing. There are several tests available including X-ray, pulmonary function test, computerized tomography scan (CT) and a lung biopsy among other tests.
The main risk factor for developing mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos. The risk of developing mesothelioma is largely dependent on the exposure amount and time frame. Most cases of mesothelioma have been linked to repeated asbestos exposure in the workplace. Asbestos is a group of minerals that occur naturally as bundles of fibers. These fibers, found in soil and rocks in many parts of the world, are made of silicon, oxygen, and other elements.
When asbestos fibers in the air are inhaled, they tend to stick to mucus in the throat, trachea (windpipe), or bronchi (large breathing tubes of the lungs). Chrysotile fibers tend to be cleared from the lungs by being coughed up or swallowed. But the long, thin amphibole fibers are harder to clear, and they may stay in the lungs, traveling to the ends of the small airways and penetrating into the pleural lining of the lung and chest wall. These fibers may then injure mesothelial cells of the pleura, and eventually cause mesothelioma.
Despite the fact that asbestos is classified as a known human carcinogen (a substance that causes cancer), it has been used in many products because of its heat and fire resistant properties.
Between the 1930s and 1970s, the use of asbestos in products increased dramatically. In that amount of time, asbestos could be found in about 3,000 widely used products. Products traditionally using asbestos include insulation, floor tiles, door gaskets, soundproofing, roofing, patching compounds, fireproof gloves, ironing board covers, and brake pads. But, asbestos has even been used in products such as hair dryers.
In 1973, under the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Air Act, spray applied asbestos products were banned for fireproofing and insulating. Going even further in 1989, the EPA enacted the Asbestos Ban and Phase Out Rule which was designed to eliminate the use of asbestos in manufacturing processes.
But, in 1991, the ban as overturned in Corrosion Proof Fittings v. the Environmental Protection Agency. However, six categories of products remained banned:
Contrary to popular belief, asbestos is not illegal in the United States. Although the use of Asbestos in products has decreased in the U.S., millions of Americans are still being exposed to asbestos in their workplace. Even today, more than 70% of the world still uses asbestos in products. People at risk of asbestos exposure in the workplace include:
It is estimated that about 3,000 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year in the United States. The rate of diagnosis increased dramatically between the 1970s and 1990s but since has become stagnant. However, rates are increasing in other parts of the world because of the continued use of asbestos in manufacturing.
According to The American Cancer Society, the average age for a pleural mesothelioma diagnosis is 72.
When asbestos workers are not adequately warned that their exposure to asbestos could result in mesothelioma or other debilitating lung diseases, the worker or family members may have legal options. Law firms specializing in asbestos litigation can discuss those options with you.
Mesothelioma and asbestos exposure lawsuits allege that one or more of these parties had a duty to warn you about the dangers of asbestos, failed to provide you with adequate warnings and that, as a result, you developed mesothelioma and you are entitled to damages.
An asbestos attorney can also submit a claim against an asbestos trust fund. These types of trusts originated in the 1970s when it became clear asbestos was the primary cause of mesothelioma. Many of the companies that produced or sold products containing asbestos began going bankrupt because of the mesothelioma lawsuits filed against them that were eventually settled. The money allocated to the trust allows for all current and future asbestos claims to be paid out to those injured.
In short, the trusts compensate workers injured by negligent companies that sold or manufactured products containing asbestos.
Mesothelioma victims or their survivors should contact a mesothelioma attorney as soon as possible so they do not risk losing their legal rights completely. Each state has its own deadline for allowing victims of asbestos cancer to file lawsuits. These rules are called statute of limitations.
The first step in the legal process is to contact a mesothelioma lawyer for a free, no-obligation consultation. Your attorney will review your work history, medical history and other facts pertinent to your case and advise you on your ability in filing a mesothelioma lawsuit.
Your attorney will zealously represent you and provide compassionate counsel to you and your family during every stage of your case. TorHoerman Law represents clients in 50 states and the attorneys serve as leaders in several national litigation efforts. Our veteran staff of investigators, medical staff, secretaries, paralegals, and case support personnel are skilled at providing the exceptional personal attention that your mesothelioma lawsuit deserves.
Contact TorHoerman Law today for a free, no obligation asbestos lawsuit consultation.
“Asbestos Trust Funds - $30 Billion for Mesothelioma Veterans and Families.” Mesothelioma Veterans Center, www.mesotheliomaveterans.org/compensation/asbestos-trust-funds/.
“Key Statistics About Malignant Mesothelioma.” American Cancer Society, www.cancer.org/cancer/malignant-mesothelioma/about/key-statistics.html.
Leer, Ben. “Why Isn't Asbestos Banned in the United States?” Mesothelioma Center - Vital Services for Cancer Patients & Families, 20 Nov. 2018, www.asbestos.com/blog/2012/09/17/why-isnt-asbestos-banned-in-the-united-states/.
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