What You Need to Know About Pleural Mesothelioma

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Anatomy of the human lungsMalignant mesothelioma is a dangerous type of cancer that is caused by exposure to asbestos. Asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral, was widely used in manufacturing and many consumer products until the 1970s—before the dangers of asbestos became known. Unfortunately, many workers who were exposed to asbestos at their jobs during this time period are in danger of developing this devastating cancer.

Pleural mesothelioma is the most common type mesothelioma and affects the lining around the lungs. If you developed pleural mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure at your job, you may be entitled to compensation for your expensive medical treatments, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Causes of Pleural Mesothelioma

Pleural mesothelioma is a cancer that affects the pleura, the lining around the lungs and the chest cavity. Exposure to asbestos is by far the most common cause of pleural mesothelioma.

In the workplace, asbestos fibers could become airborne and were easily inhaled by workers and visitors. These fibers would then travel into the lungs and become trapped in the lining of the lungs where they would cause the cells to mutate into cancer cells. Pleural mesothelioma is the most common type of mesothelioma, with approximately 75 percent of these cancers being pleural mesothelioma.

Drywall, paint, pipes, flooring, roofing, rubber, bricks, appliances, and many other construction, commercial, and consumer products were manufactured with asbestos. Because of this, many workers were exposed this toxic substance, sometimes for their entire careers. Workers at highest risk of developing pleural mesothelioma include:

  • Construction workers.
  • Firefighters.
  • Industrial workers.
  • Power plant workers.
  • Shipyard workers.
  • Factory workers.
  • Asbestos mining and plant workers.
  • Boiler workers.

These are just some of the workers who are at risk of developing pleural mesothelioma. Unfortunately, family members of these individuals may have also been exposed to asbestos and are at higher risk of becoming ill with this cancer. When workers came home with asbestos on their clothes and bodies, the asbestos fibers could become airborne and inhaled by their family members.

Stages of Pleural Mesothelioma

It can take 20 to 50 years after a worker’s exposure to asbestos for pleural mesothelioma to develop. Some of the symptoms of this cancer include:

  • Shortness of breath.
  • Chest or lower back pain.
  • Problems with swallowing.
  • Persistent cough.
  • Hoarseness.
  • Fluid around the lungs.

Because of the slow progression of this type of cancer over decades and the fact that the symptoms are similar to those of other lung conditions, pleural mesothelioma is often not diagnosed in the early stages of the disease. Once a patient has been diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma, his physician will determine the stage of progression of the disease. The stages of this type of cancer include:

  • Stage I. The cancer cells are confined to one side of the pleura lining. In addition, there is no cancer in the lymph nodes or metastases present.
  • Stage II. In Stage II, the cancer cells have traveled to one lung and the nymph lodes.
  • Stage III. The tumor has spread to a larger area, which can include the lungs, chest wall, abdomen, and cardiac cavity.
  • Stage IV. This is the final stage of the disease where the cancer has metastasized throughout the chest, neck, bones, and abdomen.

Treatments Options for Pleural Mesothelioma Are Expensive

Pleural mesothelioma is an aggressive form of cancer, and a patients’ prognosis is not good. However, the prognosis for pleural mesothelioma is better than for other types of mesothelioma, and there are some cases where patients have lived for years with the disease. If the patient’s cancer cell type is epitheloid—which most common for patients with pleural mesothelioma—the growth of the cancer cells is slower and there are more treatment options. In addition, new treatments are being developed, so patients should not give up hope.

Many patients with pleural mesothelioma will undergo a multimodal treatment plan, in which a combination of cancer treatments is used to slow the progression of the disease and improve the patient’s quality of life. The exact treatments will be based on many factors, including the stage of the cancer. Unfortunately, no current treatments can cure a patient with this form of cancer.

Possible treatments include:

  • Surgery. Surgery is much more likely to be successful if a person is at Stage I or II. It can include removal of the lining around the lung and chest, removal of a lung, or excision of any visible tumors.
  • Chemotherapy. Chemotherapy is the primary treatment for pleural mesothelioma. It can be used to shrink tumors before surgery or to kill cancer cells that cannot be removed during surgery.
  • Radiation. Radiation is often used in combination with surgery or chemotherapy to prevent cancer cell growth and reduce the symptoms of pleural mesothelioma.

Surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation are the traditional types of treatment for pleural mesothelioma. However, there are many clinical trials and emerging treatments that may help control the cancer and extend a patient’s life. These treatments can be very costly, and patients may need to travel to specialized cancer hospitals to receive some of these innovative treatments or to participate in clinical trials. However, these treatments can be a crucial part of a person’s treatment plan and may include:

  • Immunotherapy. This treatment utilizes the patient’s immune system to fight the cancer. In active immunotherapy treatment, the patient is given medications to boost his immune system. Passive immunotherapy is the other type of treatment and involves adding laboratory-created proteins that the patient’s body is lacking. Currently, this form of treatment is showing promising results.
  • Photodynamic therapy. Photodynamic therapy uses photosensitizers, which are light-sensitive chemicals. When they are activated through the use of light, oxygen is released that can kill nearby cancer cells. It can also weaken cancer cells and make chemotherapy and radiation more effective.
  • Virotherapy. This is an emerging type of treatment that utilizes virus, such as measles and herpes, to fight the cancer cells after the virus have been modified. Some types of virus are used to attack the cells while others can be effective in boosting the patient’s immune system.
  • Gene therapy. Gene therapy is still in the testing phases but is being developed to restructure mutating cancer cells. It may also increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy and radiation.

Contact Our Louisiana Mesothelioma Attorneys for Help

Have you been diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma? Our experienced mesothelioma attorneys understand how devastating this diagnosis can be and the importance of receiving the expensive medical treatments that you need and deserve. We work on a contingency fee basis, which means we don't charge for our services until after your claim is settled. Our fee is based upon a percentage of your settlement, so there are no upfront costs required for you to get the legal help you need. 

We will investigate the circumstances surrounding your illness and fight aggressively to obtain the compensation you need for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering from any negligent parties. Contact us online or call our office directly at (318) 541-8188 to schedule your free consultation, get your questions answered and learn more about your legal options.

Richard J. Arsenault
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Recognized by several legal associations, Richard Arsenault has vast experience in complex litigation cases.