Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that is caused by asbestos exposure. Mesothelioma is not a form of lung cancer. It actually develops in the mesothelium; a thin, double-layered protective sheath that surrounds vital organs and body cavities. The mesothelium that protects the chest and lungs is called the pleura and the mesothelium that surrounds the abdomen is called the peritoneum. This protective tissue holds vital organs in position and provides lubrication that allows internal organs to smoothly move during breathing and movements.
Mesothelioma is the most serious of all asbestos-related diseases. Mesothelioma cancer can be very difficult to diagnose and can take anywhere from 25 to sometimes 50 years to develop. Prognosis for mesothelioma is poor and is worse than other forms of asbestos cancer. Mesothelioma typically affects the pleural mesothelium but in some cases, patients develop peritoneal mesothelioma in the abdomen.
The Dangers of Asbestos Exposure
Researchers agree that when asbestos fibers are inhaled, they get trapped in the lungs, causing scar tissue build-up and lesions. Such tissue and lesions lead to difficult breathing, disease, and, too often, death.
In recent years, there has been an alarming increase in the number of cases of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases, probably because many of such ailments don't surface until years - sometimes as long as four decades - after exposure. That puts the thousands of construction workers, drywallers, shipbuilders, floor covering installers, automobile repair workers, cementers, oil refinery workers, and other laborers who worked with asbestos during its hey day - between 1940 and 1980 at serious risk for falling ill with pleural mesothelioma, asbestosis, or lung cancer in the near future.
Pleural mesothelioma is cancer of the pleura, a sac that lines the lungs. The pleura is a membrane that lines the pleural cavities surrounding the lungs. When inhaled, asbestos fibers are absorbed into the lungs, eventually making their way to the edges of the lungs and into the pleura, causing lesions and scarring. Eventually, malignant mesothelioma cancer develops as a result of the damage caused by the asbestos fibers.
Pleural mesothelioma is the most common type of mesothelioma cancer; if you or a loved one has been diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma, contact an attorney as soon as possible. You may be entitled to compensation.
Asbestos fibers can also affect the abdominal region, triggering the development of peritoneal mesothelioma. This type of cancer is just as dangerous as pleural mesothelioma.
Peritoneal mesothelioma is a rarer form of cancer than pleural mesothelioma, accounting for roughly 10 percent of all mesothelioma cases.
While asbestos is to blame for peritoneal mesothelioma, it is not known exactly how asbestos fibers make their way into the peritoneal mesothelium. Peritoneal mesothelioma cancer affects the lining of the abdomen instead of the lining of the lungs and chest cavity. However, experts believe that asbestos fibers affect may be ingested into the stomach or are inhaled and make it to the peritoneum through the lymph node system.
The pericardium is the membrane that lines the heart and serves to protect and support the organ. When dangerous asbestos fibers become lodged in the pericardium, mesothelioma can develop. Although experts are not sure how asbestos fibers get to the pericardium, it is believed that they travel to the heart from the lungs through the bloodstream.
Pericardial mesothelioma is the least common form of mesothelioma.
General Mesothelioma Symptoms
Common mesothelioma cancer symptoms include:
- Persistent coughing
- Coughing blood
- Shortness of breath
- Pain in chest
- Pain in the abdomen
- Significant weight loss
Malignant Mesothelioma - Pleural Mesothelioma Symptoms
Symptoms of pleural mesothelioma include:
- Chronic cough
- Expectorating blood
- Stomach pain
- Shortness of breath/wheezing
- Chronic fatigue
- Weight loss
- Chest pain
Malignant Mesothelioma - Peritoneal Mesothelioma Symptoms
Symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma include:
- Abdominal pain
- Abdominal swelling
- Distention of the abdomen
- Fluid in the abdomen
- Weight loss
- Digestive disturbances
Mesothelioma Litigation and Lawsuits
Asbestos was first discovered to be dangerous at the beginning of last century. It has been known as a carcinogen since the 1960s and was subsequently banned in more than 30 countries under grounds that there is no safe level of asbestos exposure. Mining and manufacture of most asbestos products has been ceased in the United States, yet we continue to import more than 30 million pounds of asbestos in foreign products each year. A new recommendation by an EPA-sponsored panel of asbestos industry members and other experts on the topic called for a ban of all importation, manufacture, and mining of asbestos and asbestos containing products in the United States.
Although this may be a good sign, it also means that new risks of asbestos exposure are still developing. Since mesothelioma take years and even decades to develop, many more cases of mesothelioma will be diagnosed and more lawsuits will be filed. The need for qualified mesothelioma attorneys will continue as long as asbestos exposure causes mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases.
Mesothelioma and Navy Veterans
From the early-1930s to the mid-1970s, there was no way to avoid asbestos exposure on a United States Naval ship or in a U.S. Naval shipyard. The U.S. Navy, like all branches of the U.S. military, valued asbestos for its ability to resist heat and protect personnel from fire. Of the approximately 25 million living veterans of the United States Armed Forces, a substantial number were exposed to asbestos routinely, and many of these served about U.S. Naval vessels.
Alarmingly, nearly one-third of all mesothelioma victims are veterans of the United States Armed Forces.
If you served in any branch of the U.S. Military between World War II and the end of the Vietnam War, you are at an increased risk of asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma. Navy veterans who served between the early-1930s and the end of the 1970s are at an especially high risk of mesothelioma. Virtually no part of a Naval ship during this period was free from asbestos.
At LawyerShop.com, we have undying respect and gratitude for veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces. If you were exposed to asbestos during your time in the military, or if you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease, we urge you to contact a reputable mesothelioma attorney for further information about how you can obtain the compensation to which you are entitled.
Veteran Affairs (VA) Benefits
If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you have the right to apply for Veteran Affairs (VA) benefits. In order to receive these benefits, however, you must be able to demonstrate that your asbestos exposure occurred exclusively during your military service. The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs reserves the right to reject a claim if the asbestos exposure cannot be limited to the applicant’s military service.
If you have been denied VA benefits after being diagnosed with mesothelioma, you may need to secure the services of an attorney to ensure the preservation of your rights.
Asbestos on Naval Vessels
The U.S. Navy mandated the use of asbestos on its ships and in its shipyards for decades before finally phasing the carcinogenic mineral out in the mid-1970s. Of course, the hazards of asbestos were not fully understood during this time, and its use was considered beneficial to the safety of the sailors and the ships. As a result, asbestos was used not only in the engine and boiler rooms, where the threat of fire was particularly high, but also in mess halls, sleeping quarters, and virtually all other rooms on a ship. Asbestos was also widely used in floors, ceilings, pipes, and many of the ship’s mechanical parts.
Wrongful Death and Mesothelioma
In nearly all cases, mesothelioma victims are entitled to compensation from those responsible for their asbestos exposure. Tragically, however, many of these victims die before they have an opportunity to pursue legal action. This does not mean, however, that there surviving family members are left without legal recourse. If you have lost someone you love to mesothelioma, you may be eligible to recover compensation via a wrongful death claim.
What makes a death “wrongful”?
To those left behind, any death probably seems “wrongful.” In legal terms, however, a wrongful death is one that would not have occurred except for the negligent actions of another party. In mesothelioma cases, victims were exposed to the harmful carcinogen asbestos through no fault of their own, usually as part of their jobs. While the harm caused to these victims was, in most cases, unintentional, this does not excuse the negligent behavior.
Did my loved one’s employer know about the effects of asbestos?
As early as the 1920s, it was widely known that exposure to asbestos created health risks, although the full extent of these risks became clear only later in the twentieth century. Nevertheless, the use of asbestos in workplaces, homes, military equipment, and schools continued in the United States until the 1980s, when the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed measures to ban asbestos. As of early 2011, however, trace amounts of asbestos are still legally permitted in some products.
What sorts of damages can I recover in an asbestos-related wrongful death claim?
To determine the compensation you can expect to recover in your case, you will need to meet with a qualified mesothelioma attorney. However, in general, families who file wrongful death claims are usually entitled to compensation for medical and home care costs, funeral-related expenses, mental anguish, and losses and expenses directly stemming from their loved one’s illness. They are also often awarded compensation for losses and expenses than can reasonably be projected into the future, including lost wages, lost benefits, and loss of companionship, support, and consortium.
Speak to a Mesothelioma Attorney
Since the only known cause of mesothelioma is asbestos, there is a chance that an asbestos company can be held responsible for your asbestos exposure and resulting mesothelioma or asbestos disease. Retaining a qualified mesothelioma attorney may help you receive the compensation you and your family deserve.