Asbestos (Mesothelioma)

What is Mesothelioma?


Mesothelioma is a tumor that starts in the mesothelium, the lining of certain internal organs. An estimated 2,500 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year in the U.S. The disease occurs more often in men, and the average age of diagnosis is 69. The disease has been linked to exposure to asbestos.


Malignant mesotheliomas are caused by asbestos exposure. The greater the exposure, the greater the risk, although experts believe there is no safe level of asbestos exposure. The onset of the disease can take anywhere from 15 to 50 years.


Mesothelioma prognosis depends on the size of the cancer, where it is, how far it has spread, how it responds to treatment, the general health of the patient, as well as other factors.


Mesothelioma was rare before the commercial use of asbestos. In recent years, diagnoses of mesothelioma has leveled off and even decreased. This decrease is likely related to efforts over time to reduce workplace asbestos exposure.


Asbestos and Mesothelioma


Mesothelioma is caused by asbestos exposure. Asbestos is a fibrous, fire resistant mineral that has been widely used in many industrial products including cement, brake linings, roof shingles, flooring products, textiles and insulation. It can also be found in talc, including talcum powders used for personal hygiene, baby powders, and talc-containing cosmetics.


Millions of people may have been exposed to asbestos, especially in the workplace, including miners, factory workers, insulation manufacturers and installers, railroad and automotive works, ship builders, plumbers, and construction workers.


Family members of people who work in environments where they are exposed to asbestos can also be at risk for secondary asbestos exposure, because the fibers can adhere to workers’ clothes and be carried home. For example, washing the clothes of someone who works around asbestos increases that person’s risk of developing mesothelioma.


Mesothelioma Symptoms


Early mesothelioma symptoms are often mistaken for common, minor ailments and, as a result, most people with the disease have symptoms for at least a few months before they are diagnosed.


Symptoms vary depending on where the cancer originates, and can include pain in the side of the chest, lower back or abdomen; swelling in the abdomen, face or arms; shortness of breath; coughing; fever; difficulty swallowing; fatigue; nausea and vomiting; excessive sweating; and unexplained weight loss.


These symptoms can be caused by other conditions. If you have experienced these symptoms – especially if you have been exposed to asbestos – you should talk to your doctor right away so that the cause can be identified and the condition treated.


Types of mesothelioma


There are four types of mesothelioma. All are caused by asbestos exposure.


Pleural mesotheliomas affect the pleura, or lining that coats the lungs and chest wall, and account for about 75 percent of all cases of mesothelioma. Most asbestos-related mesotheliomas are pleural mesotheliomas.


Peritoneal mesotheliomas involve the peritoneum, which lines the inside of the abdomen and many of the abdominal organs. The remaining 25 percent of mesothelioma diagnoses are peritoneal mesotheliomas. Pericardial mesotheliomas develop in the lining around the heart, and are extremely rare.


Tunica vaginalis mesotheliomas affect the sac surrounding the testicles, and are also extremely rare.


In addition to mesothelioma, asbestos exposure increases the risk of lung cancer, asbestosis (a noncancerous, chronic lung ailment), and other cancers including those of the larynx and kidney.


If you or your loved one has suffered a serious injury, or your loved one has died as a result of asbestos exposure or mesothelioma, you may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, loss of wages, and pain and suffering. Please contact Johnson & Lapham LLC at 513-536-6000 for a free, no-cost, no-obligation legal evaluation of your case.


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