Mesothelioma Side Effects
Mesothelioma is an aggressive form of cancer caused by asbestos exposure. Asbestos was manufactured and used widely until the 1970s, when it was gradually phased out. Though the mineral still isn’t banned in the United States, its use is heavily regulated.
Because mesothelioma has such a long latency period—it can take 20 to 50 years for symptoms to emerge—thousands are still diagnosed with the disease each year.
If you or a loved one were diagnosed with mesothelioma, contact us for a free legal review. You may be eligible for compensation.
You may also want to download our FREE PDF GUIDE to mesothelioma, its effects, and how a lawsuit can help.
What Causes Mesothelioma?
Asbestos is made up of thin, shard-like fibers. When inhaled, these fibers can stick to the protective mesothelium layer of the body’s organs for decades.
The mesothelium is made up of mesothelial cells which produce a lubricant to help organs expand and contract. They are found in the inner or outer layers of the lungs, abdomen, heart, and testicles. Asbestos fibers can cause cancerous mesothelium tumors to grow around these organs.
Mesothelioma is only caused by exposure to asbestos.
Types of Mesothelioma
Though mesothelioma primarily affects the lungs, it can also develop in the mesothelium layers of other internal organs.
- Pleural Mesothelioma: A cancer of the lungs that makes breathing particularly difficult. This is the most common form of mesothelioma and represents 3 out of 4 diagnoses.
- Peritoneal Mesothelioma: A cancer of the stomach. It is caused by swallowing asbestos fibers.
- Pericardial Mesothelioma: This rare form of mesothelioma (representing only 1% of cases) affects the heart.
- Mesothelioma of the Tunica Vaginalis: Also rare, this form of mesothelioma causes tumors to grow on the outside layer of the testicles.
When mesothelioma affects the lungs, symptoms can include:
- Shortness of breath
- Persistent cough
- Chest pain
- Weight loss
- Excessive sweating
The symptoms of mesothelioma of the abdomen commonly include:
- Abdominal pain
- Swelling of the abdomen
- Weight loss
- Nausea and vomiting
Mesothelioma of the heart can result in the following symptoms:
- Chest pain
- Difficulty breathing
Mesothelioma of the Tunica Vaginalis
Mesothelioma of the testicles may cause the following:
- Swelling of the testicles
- Growth on the testicles
If you have history of asbestos exposure and are experiencing any of the above symptoms, you should consult a doctor and perhaps pursue legal action.
Each form of mesothelioma causes fluid buildup, which can be detected in a physical exam. The cancer may also cause higher levels of osteopontin or soluble mesothelin-related peptides in the bloodstream, which will show in a blood test. However, only a biopsy can confirm a mesothelioma diagnosis.
Biopsies involve taking samples of the fluid or affected organ tissue. These samples are used to confirm the presence of cancerous mesothelioma cells.
Once mesothelioma is diagnosed, a CT scan, MRI, or PET scan detects how far the disease has progressed. The four stages of pleural mesothelioma look as follows:
- Stage I: Limited to the mesothelium lining of one lung.
- Stage II: Cancer spreads to diaphragm or throughout both lungs.
- Stage III: Cancer spreads to other parts of the chest and lymph nodes.
- Stage IV: The most advanced stage of mesothelioma. Cancer spreads throughout the patient’s body.
Who Is at Risk?
Anyone who was exposed to asbestos is at risk of developing mesothelioma. Even secondhand exposure—inhaling dust from a loved one’s contaminated work clothes, equipment, or skin—can result in a mesothelioma diagnosis.
Asbestos was commonly used for its durable and fire-retardant qualities, making it popular within the construction and commercial industries. The following groups of workers are particularly susceptible to developing the disease because of their frequent use of the mineral:
- Construction workers
- Railroad workers
- Shipyard workers
- U.S. military veterans (especially the U.S. Navy)
- Asbestos miners
- Refinery workers
- First responders (especially those who helped at Ground Zero)
If you were exposed to asbestos in the past, especially on the job in one of the above occupations, consult with your doctor.
Medical professionals will often use some combination of the following to treat mesothelioma:
- Surgery: To remove malignant tumors. Usually this is only an option if the cancer hasn’t spread. Cancer cells may still remain after the procedure, but surgery can help put the disease in remission.
- Radiation Therapy: Uses powerful x-rays to kill cancer cells. External beam radiation therapy (EBRT), involving a machine outside the body, is the most common radiation treatment for mesothelioma.
- Chemotherapy: Typically used when surgery cannot remove the cancer completely, chemotherapy injects drugs directly into the bloodstream to kill cancer cells. The most common drug combination for mesothelioma is Pemetrexed and Cisplatin.
Mesothelioma is an aggressive form of cancer. Because it typically affects older patients—the average age of diagnosed patients is 60—the survival rates are low.
The majority of patients will succumb to the disease within 18 months of diagnosis. According to the American Cancer Society, 5-to-10 percent of patients will survive five years or longer after diagnosis. Survival rates are higher the younger a patient is and the earlier the cancer is detected.
Hold Asbestos Manufacturers Accountable
Mesothelioma diagnoses and deaths are no random occurrence. Companies knew for decades that asbestos caused cancer, yet they continued to endanger employees and consumers by manufacturing, using, and selling asbestos products.
You can hold these companies accountable by filing a lawsuit on behalf of yourself or a loved one. A lawsuit can help recover damages for medical bills, loss of earnings, pain and suffering, and more.
Contact our legal team today for a free, no-obligation consultation. If you qualify for a lawsuit, there are never any costs unless we win a jury award or settlement on your behalf.