Mesothelioma or Asbestos Cancer Information
Mesothelioma is a cancer that is almost exclusively caused by exposure to asbestos. Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that is mined throughout the world and is known for its ability to withstand fire and heat. Due to its fire resistant quality, asbestos has been used for purposes such as building insulation, lamp wicks, drywall, and fireproof clothing. While the peculiarities of asbestos have been known and used since ancient times, the first record of the potential health risks of asbestos exposure was not documented until the early twentieth century (although some sources state that the hazardous effects of human exposure to asbestos can be traced back to the first century AD where the Roman philosopher Pliny the Elder attributed the deadly lung disease commonly found in slaves to exposure to asbestos dust).
Mesothelioma (cancer caused by asbestos) is a painful disease where the cells of the membrane that protects many of your body’s organs (mesothelium)
become abnormal and start dividing uncontrollably. Mesothelioma from asbestos exposure usually starts in the membrane lining the chest (the pleura), but is an aggressive cancer that is difficult to control and can easily metastasize and affect other parts of the body.
Some of the symptoms of mesothelioma include shortness of breath, chest pain, and a dry cough. Symptoms like these often resemble other diseases, such as viral pneumonia, which can lead to a delay in diagnosis. While the symptoms of mesothelioma are generally non-distinct, diagnosis is usually determined by a chest x-ray. If the x-ray reveals that fluid is present, a fluid sample is often taken to determine if it is benign or malignant. Sometimes a needle biopsy is used to confirm a diagnosis of mesothelioma.
Since mesothelioma is caused by exposure to asbestos and the hazardous nature of asbestos has been well-known since the early twentieth century, if you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you may have a personal injury laim (see Understanding Personal Injury Lawsuits) against the source of your asbestos exposure (i.e., employer, landlord, restaurant, school, etc.). For example, personal injury lawyers have recovered billions of dollars for people with mesothelioma because the victim’s employers did not take the proper measures to protect them from exposure to asbestos (see What is a Tort?).
If you were diagnosed with mesothelioma, it is essential that you talk to a personal injury lawyer with experience handling mesothelioma claims. Even if it has been years since you worked in an asbestos environment, it often takes decades before any of the symptoms of mesothelioma are experienced; therefore, you may still be able to file a claim for damages (see Understanding Statutes of Limitations). An experienced personal injury lawyer who is familiar with mesothelioma claims can help you know and understand your rights.