Mesothelioma is a fairly rare yet very deadly form of cancer. It develops in the mesothelium, which is the protective lining that covers the internal organs in the body.
There are in fact several types of mesothelioma. The most common form of this type of cancer is pleural mesothelioma. This form of mesothelioma starts in the chest and then expands to other parts of the body. The second most common form of this cancer is peritoneal mesothelioma, which starts in the stomach. In some cases, mesothelioma may develop around the heart or in the testicles but this is extremely rare.
Many people do not get timely treatment for this condition because the symptoms are so commonplace that they are mistaken for less serious conditions. Most people get mesothelioma in the lungs and the main symptoms of this form of cancer include shortness of breath, a persistent cough, fatigue and in some cases more serious breathing problems. When this form of cancer starts developing in the stomach, common symptoms include swelling and tenderness of the stomach.
It is also important to note that this type of cancer takes many years to develop. In fact, those who were exposed to asbestos often do not develop related health problems until ten, fifteen or even twenty years after the initial exposure. Anyone who was ever exposed to asbestos at any time should be on the lookout for the above mentioned symptoms and immediately see a doctor should these symptoms occur.
While mesothelioma has killed tens of thousands of people, it can be treated if it is caught early on. There are various treatment options available; the most common options being radiation treatment, chemotherapy and surgery.
If the sickness has not spread to other organs, then a doctor will usually recommend surgery to remove the tumors before they cause further damage. In many cases a person will still need to take chemotherapy or radiation treatments to ensure that this cancer is completely removed from the body.
There are also some alternative forms of treatment that a person may want to consider. Immunotherapy, gene therapy and photodynamic therapy are a few new treatment options that some doctors are starting to explore. These treatments can be used on their own or in conjunction with common cancer treatment courses. How effective any given course of treatment is depends on how much the cancer has spread, a person’s age and his or her overall state of health.
The History of Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma is generally caused by breathing in asbestos dust. These small grains of dust are next to impossible to see with the naked eye but cause irreversible damage.
Asbestos is a material that was commonly used to build houses, offices and other structures in the late 19th and early 20th century. This material’s resilience to damage and low cost made it extremely popular and so many builders were exposed to it, as were the miners who obtained the raw material. Asbestos was also used to make fire resistant clothing, insulation, outdoor furniture and for packaging items for international shipping. This widespread use continues to put many people in danger, as older homes and items continue to be contaminated even though the use of asbestos has been banned many years.
Manufacturers started to realize in the 1930s that those who worked with asbestos were developing serious lung problems that in many cases resulted in a premature death. Unfortunately, these problems were hid from the public for many years. Mesothelioma was first identified in the 1940s but it was until the 1970s that the courts officially recognized the fact that mesothelioma was indisputably caused by asbestos dust and that manufacturers deliberately covered this up in favor of profits.
Those who were exposed to mesothelioma were generally not aware that this substance posed a serious health risk and are thus able to claim compensation from the employer, home builder and/or other person or business entity that put them at risk. Families who lost loved ones due to this health condition can also file a lawsuit against the responsible party or parties. Furthermore, courts have recognized that in some cases family members were indirectly exposed to mesothelioma even though they did not work for an employer who used this material. This exposure usually occurred as a result of washing clothing that had asbestos dust on it.
The first step in filing a lawsuit is to find a lawyer who specializes in cases of this nature. While it is an established fact that asbestos causes cancer and other serious health problems, a person will need legal help in order to file a case, have it processed and more importantly to prove that the party being sued knowingly put one at risk.
Settlement vs. Court Case
In many cases a company or employer may seek to settle a case instead of having it taken to court. There are advantages and disadvantages to settling a case. The main advantage is that a person will be able to get speedy compensation. Court cases can take years to process and the other party may appeal the ruling even after a judge or jury has issued a verdict.
At the same time, a person can often win greater compensation by taking the case to court instead of pursuing a settlement. Furthermore, taking the case to court exposes a company or individual who knowingly put lives at risk and can prevent this individual or company from doing business in the future.
Mesothelioma is a deadly form of cancer that is caused by exposure to asbestos dust. This exposure was unfortunately a very common occurrence for millions of people who worked up until the late 1970s but the good news is that the cancer can be treated if it is caught early on. Furthermore, those who were unwittingly exposed to this harmful substance can file for compensation with the assistance of a qualified lawyer. The funds received as a result of the settlement or final verdict can then enable a person to get needed treatment and care.