While any diagnosis of cancer can be devastating, finding out that you have mesothelioma can be catastrophic due to the life-threatening nature of the disease. This is a rarer type of cancer that can attack the lining of many vital organs and is caused by exposure to asbestos. According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 3,000 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year.
If you suffer from mesothelioma, you may have developed this disease due to your exposure to asbestos at work or through the negligence of another party. The experienced and compassionate Mesothelioma attorneys at Neblett, Arsenault & Beard are here to help you fight for the compensation that you deserve so that you can receive the expensive medical treatments that you need to fight this devastating cancer.
Mesothelioma: What Are the Causes and Who Is Most at Risk?
A layer of specialized cells called the mesothelial cells lines the inside of the chest, abdomen, space around the heart, and many internal organs. Malignant mesothelioma is a type of cancer that starts in the linings of these vital organs. It is caused by exposure to asbestos, which are fibers comprised of six minerals found in nature. Asbestos was widely used in many commercial and residential products in the 1960s and 1970s due to its strength and resistance to heat and chemicals. Flooring and roofing, insulation products, paints, paper products, drywall, and automotive parts are just some of the products that were manufactured using asbestos.
When asbestos was widely used, its fibers could become airborne and inhaled by those exposed to it. These fibers can become trapped in a person’s lungs and travel to other vital organ linings, with the development of mesothelioma being a possible consequence. It can take between 30 and 50 years for the symptoms of this disease to become apparent. Many of the people who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma are workers who were exposed to asbestos decades ago. Individuals in these industries are especially at high risk:
- Drywall installers
- Iron workers
- Pipe fitters
- Railroad workers
- Construction workers
- Factory workers
- Insulation workers
- Automotive factory workers
- Chemical and power plant workers
- Auto mechanics
- Shipyard workers and shipbuilders
Employees exposed to asbestos are not the only ones at risk. Others who could develop mesothelioma include:
- Families. Families of workers could be exposed to harmful levels of asbestos when workers brought asbestos fibers home on their clothes and bodies. Spouses who washed a worker’s work clothes were especially at risk of asbestos exposure.
- Users of everyday products. Because of the widespread use of asbestos in common household products such as hairdryers, coffee pots, toasters, and talc powder, people and their children could have been exposed to harmful asbestos through use of these products at their homes.
Types of Mesothelioma
There are a number of different types of malignant mesothelioma, which are based on the part of the body affected by this cancer. These include the following:
- Pleural mesothelioma. This type of mesothelioma affects the lining of the lung and chest and accounts for three out of four cases of mesothelioma. This is due to the fact that asbestos is mostly inhaled and then becomes lodged in the lungs. Symptoms can include pain in the chest, coughing, shortness of breath, and weight loss.
- Peritoneal mesothelioma. Peritoneal mesothelioma attacks the lining surrounding the abdomen and is caused by ingesting asbestos fibers. Some of the symptoms include abdominal swelling and tenderness, bowel obstruction, fatigue, loss of appetite, and fluid buildup. This is the second most common type of mesothelioma.
- Pericardial mesothelioma. This is a rarer form of mesothelioma that starts in the lining around the heart. A person can have many of the symptoms of pleural mesothelioma, but may also experience heart murmurs, palpitations, and irregular heartbeat.
- Sarcomatoid mesothelioma. This is a type of pleural mesothelioma and is characterized by the presence of sarcomatoid cells. These cancer cells grow at a more aggressive rate than other mesothelioma cancer cells and are much more resistant to treatment.
- Epithelioid mesothelioma. This is also a subtype of mesothelioma that is characterized by the type of cancer cell present. In this type of cancer, the healthy epithelial cells found throughout the body mutate into epithelioid mesothelioma cells from exposure to asbestos. This type of cancer is less aggressive than sarcomatoid mesothelioma, and there are many more treatment options. Most people diagnosed with mesothelioma have this type of cancer cell.
You May Need Expensive Medical Treatments for Malignant Mesothelioma, and You May Be Entitled to Compensation From Your Employer
Because the symptoms of mesothelioma take decades to emerge, this type of cancer may have progressed to a more serious stage of the disease before it is diagnosed and when there are fewer treatment options. Currently, there is no cure for mesothelioma, and it is often fatal. However, there are still many treatment options available that may help to slow the progression of your cancer and allow you to live with less pain. Some of these include:
- Surgery. You may need surgery to remove the cancerous tumors or as many of them as possible. Unfortunately, a surgeon usually cannot remove all of the cancer cells. Surgery may also be performed to reduce the pain and other symptoms of your disease.
- Chemotherapy. Chemotherapy is a standard treatment that is utilized along with other treatments like radiation and surgery. Its goals are to kill cancer cells, shrink the size of tumors, and prevent the cancer from spreading. You could suffer serious side effects from chemotherapy drugs, such as hair loss, nausea, loss of appetite, fatigue, and vulnerability to infections.
- Radiation. Radiation can shrink the cancer tumors and reduce pain and is often used in conjunction with surgery and chemotherapy. Especially if you have epithelioid pleural mesothelioma, radiation along with surgery can increase your life expectancy.
There are also newer treatments being developed to help patients manage their pain, kill the cancer cells more effectively, and slow the disease’s progression. You may also want to explore clinical trial options with your doctor. Some of these treatments include:
- Complementary treatments. While complementary and alternative therapies such as acupuncture, meditation, touch therapy, and other treatments will not stop the cancer from growing, they can help you manage the pain and improve your quality of life. They can be an integral part of your treatment plan.
- Immunology. Immunology is one of these more innovative treatments that employs the use of medications and the addition of laboratory-created proteins missing in the body that can help build your immune system and fight the cancer cells. This is one of the most promising treatments presently being developed for mesothelioma.
- Photodynamic therapy. This newer treatment utilizes a light-activated drug that is injected into a vein. A few days after the drug has traveled throughout a patient’s body, a special red light is inserted into the chest to activate the drug, which kills cancer cells.
- Targeted drugs. These are new and more specialized drugs than traditional chemotherapy drugs that target certain proteins or other changes in the cancer cells in an effort to destroy them.
- Gene therapy and virotherapy. Gene therapy is also a newer treatment that attempts to add certain genes to the cancer cells to make them easier to kill. Virotherapy involves modifying certain viruses to attack cancer cells or infecting cancer cells with a virus with the goal of stimulating the immune system to respond.
You need to realize that your medical treatment will be ongoing and expensive. You could need to see multiple specialists and receive innovative and expensive medical drugs and treatments for the rest of your life.
While the prognosis for mesothelioma is not good, you should not give up hope or deprive yourself of the medical care you need to fight this destructive disease. Even if you are only able to control your cancer for now, this may give researchers time to develop better drugs and treatments to slow the progression of your disease—and maybe find a cure.
Let Us Help You Hold Your Employer Accountable for Compensating You
Have you or a loved one been diagnosed with mesothelioma? The experienced attorneys at Neblett, Arsenault & Beard are here to take over the burden of fighting for the compensation that you deserve for your medical care, lost wages, and pain and suffering so that you can focus on treating your illness. 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 represent clients throughout the country who have developed mesothelioma from asbestos exposure. To learn more about how we will fight aggressively for your rights, contact us online or call us directly at (318) 541-8188 today to schedule your free consultation.