What Is Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is a rare form of lung cancer. It is a very aggressive cancer, and its main cause is exposure to asbestos.
The most common form of mesothelioma occurs when lung tissue begins creating tumors that surround the lungs. Other, less common types of mesothelioma can form around areas including the abdomen and the heart.
What Causes Mesothelioma?
Cancers occur when the DNA contained in a cell is damaged. DNA is the building block of our genes, and it tells our cells how to function, including how to grow and divide into new cells. Changes in a person’s DNA can cause cells to grow out of control, and these irregular cells can lead to cancer.
The main cause of mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos, a fibrous mineral which was often used in insulation materials, especially in the 1900s. When asbestos fibers are inhaled, they may become lodged inside the body, where they can remain undetected for years. They usually travel to the pleura, or membranes surrounding the lungs, where they can cause scarring and inflammation. This can damage the DNA in the cells and cause uncontrolled, tumorous cell growth.
The tumors often develop for many years before they are properly diagnosed. Symptoms can often be mistaken for other conditions, causing delays in proper diagnosis and treatment. By the time it is diagnosed, the cancer may have already progressed to an advanced stage where treatment will be less effective.
What Is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous mineral. It is made up of very fine, needle-like fibers and is heat resistant. In the past, asbestos was commonly used as an insulator in the construction industry because of its ability to withstand high temperatures. Its uses included forming part of fire-resistant wall panels, ceiling, and floor tiles, and being added to concrete.
Although asbestos can be an effective flame retardant, its use has been banned in many countries because of the health risks it poses. In the US, it was used frequently in the 1900s, especially from the 1930s to the 1970s, but was phased out during the 1980s once its dangers became obvious. Currently, it is not completely banned in the US, but its use is highly regulated.
Who Is at Risk of Developing Mesothelioma?
If you have been exposed to an intense concentration of asbestos, or if you have had prolonged exposure on a regular basis, then you may be at risk of developing mesothelioma. Exposure can be particularly dangerous when pieces of asbestos have been broken up, as there is a greater chance of inhaling loose fibers. Many people who worked in the construction industry during or before the 1980s are at risk.
Even today, many construction workers still encounter asbestos when renovating or demolishing buildings that were built before asbestos use was regulated. If an employer does not enforce proper safety precautions in such situations, employees could be at risk. A mesothelioma lawyer can help you make a claim if you have been exposed to asbestos and suffer from mesothelioma as a result of your employment.
Other groups that are at risk of mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure include military personnel (the Navy heavily relied on the use of asbestos during ship construction during World War II and following decades), as well as firefighters.
It is important to note that patients may not notice any symptoms associated with the inhalation of asbestos immediately when exposed, and issues may not even surface for years or decades.
How Is Mesothelioma Treated?
Treatment for mesothelioma can include radiation or chemotherapy. Surgery may be required to remove tumors, or in some cases, the entire lung. Some people suffering from mesothelioma may require a combination of these methods.
There are also several newer, less common mesothelioma treatment options such as photodynamic therapy and gene therapy. These new, though expensive, treatments have significantly improved conditions for victims.
However, although these treatments can improve conditions for patients, there is no cure for mesothelioma.
Why Should I Contact an Attorney?
An experienced attorney can discuss your legal options with you and your family, who may have experienced secondary exposure. Our knowledgeable mesothelioma lawyers can help recover compensation for you and your loved ones. Contact us today for a free consultation with no obligation.