Though asbestos was thought to be useful for its flame-resistant properties, long-term exposure to its particles and fine fibers has been proven to pose serious health risks to people who come into prolonged contact with it. Due to its widespread use all over the world, hundreds of millions are exposed to asbestos, even to this day. Unfortunately, prolonged exposure and and in some cases, short-term exposure, can lead to mesothelioma cancer, a debilitating disease in which there is no cure.
Mesothelioma cancer is a cancer of the thin lining surrounding the lungs, otherwise known as pleural mesothelioma. Asbestos fibers can also attack the lining of the abdominal cavity, resulting in peritoneal mesothelioma. Additionally, the diseases sometimes affects the sac which surrounds the heart, as well as other organs in the body.
Malignant mesothelioma takes decades–sometimes up to 50 years–to develop after exposure to asbestos and eludes a quick diagnoses. Symptoms of mesotheliomainclude shortness of breath, chest pains, or both. As the disease advances to its final stage, symptoms can become more severe and typically include severe chest and lung pain, bloating, fatigue, skin rashes, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, night sweats, fever, and more.
Each year, more and more cases of mesothelioma surface, and within the decade, the number of victims are expected to peak.
If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer, or asbestosis, you may be entitled to substantial compensation. Use our free Asbestos Attorney Locator Tool today to find a leading mesothelioma attorney in your area. With over $30 billion currently in asbestos trust funds, now is the right time to take the first step in determining what you may qualify for.
Who Gets Mesothelioma Cancer?
Most mesothelioma victims are people who have served in the military and/or worked in an environment in which they were in daily contact with asbestos. In other instances, people can develop mesothelioma through second-hand contact via clothing or through radiation treatment. Yet, the main cause of mesothelioma stems from excessive exposure to asbestos.
American naval vessels built from the 1930s to the early 1960s contain extremely large amounts of asbestos. Floors, hulls, electrical systems, steam pipes, and more contain asbestos fibers in order to add tensile strength, heat resistance, and low electrical conductivity. This in turn made ships safer, particularly in regards to extreme temperatures and fires. However, these excessive amounts of asbestos in warships and auxiliary vessels exposed sailors, Marines, and naval yard workers to the carcinogenic fibers which trigger the disease.
Additionally, power plants, steel plants, manufacturing facilities, oil companies, welding business, and more used asbestos extensively prior to its ban. Prior to its regulation by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the late 70s, asbestos was used in many plants, mills, and other buildings across the world where several thousand people were subjected to it during their workdays.
Although anyone exposed to asbestos is at risk of developing mesothelioma, the average victims are typically males. The underlying reason for this is simply because males were the predominant gender in places of employment in which asbestos was used prior to its ban. Since it usually takes decades to diagnose, victims are commonly older, with an average age of 60.
Even though it’s rare, children also have a chance of developing mesothelioma. In most cases, children were exposed to asbestos via second-hand contact from a family member who worked extensively around the dangerous mineral. Unfortunately, when children and even young adults develop mesothelioma, it’s normally not diagnosed immediately since the disease is so prevalent among older adults.
Diagnosing Mesothelioma Cancer
As previously stated, it could take 20 years or more in order to diagnose mesothelioma since the symptoms tend to show up slowly, and in some cases, it isn’t diagnosed until 50 years after exposure. Even then, the symptoms start out so minor that unless your physician has a complete medical and work history, including the fact that you were exposed to asbestos, diagnosis may still be delayed.
Once your physician starts the diagnosis, several blood tests, scans, and a biopsy is typically performed. A biopsy allows your physician to remove parts of the lung tissue in order to search for asbestos fibers. If you are diagnosed with mesothelioma, your physician will be also be able to assess what stage of the disease you are in. Once the stage of the disease is determined, your physician will start on a treatment plan that’s the most beneficial for you.
Stages of Mesothelioma Cancer
Mesothelioma has four stages. The first stage is the earliest of the disease and consists of mesothelioma not quite yet beginning. People with stage 1 mesothelioma have the best chances of getting the cancerous cells removed. As the stages advances, however, so does the disease, with Stage 4 being the final stage.
Stage 2 of the disease still renders hope for the victims since the tumor, although growing, has still not spread to the point in which surgery is not an option. Stage 2 is only slightly more threatening than Stage 1, with the main difference being that the tumor has now begun to spread from its origination. It hasn’t invaded any organs at this point of the disease, but getting treatment quickly is crucial.
Once a victim reaches Stage 3, the disease has spread to specific parts of the body and prognosis is much shorter when compared to the previous stages. However, if the tumor is in mass, surgery may still be an option for qualified patients.
If the disease reaches the final stage, the prognosis is grim, and physicians tend to look for palliative treatments as opposed to curative treatments. Palliative treatments concentrate on helping victims manage pain and prolong their lives instead of attempting to remove the tumors. In the majority of cases, the tumors are far too widespread during this stage to be surgically removed. This is not to say that curative treatments are not an option for Stage 4 patients, but generally speaking, the cancer has spread too far to successfully remove it all.
Unfortunately, many victims may not even know they have mesothelioma until its final stage since it takes decades for the first symptoms to show up, which results in many patients not starting treatment when curative options would have been more successful. It’s absolutely crucial to seek medical checkups if you think you’ve been exposed to asbestos, even if you have no symptoms.
Mesothelioma Cancer Prognosis
Mesothelioma cancer currently has no cure, rendering prognosis grim for patients. It’s important to remember, however, that each patient is different and while one person may survive a year, another person may go on to live decades. It’s imperative to work with your physician on the best treatment options for you and your unique situation.
Mesothelioma Cancer Treatments
Chemotherapy, radiation, or the combination of both has proven to be the most effective mesothelioma treatments so far. However, if the disease is caught in its early stages, surgery is almost always recommended in order to remove the cancer, pending that the patient meets certain health and age requirements. Older patients and/or patients in weak health conditions may not be able to withstand the physical demands required for surgery.
If the disease is in its advanced stages, particularly stage 4 , multimodal treatment options are usually utilized, meaning a combination of two treatments, typically chemotherapy and radiation. Surgery is rarely an option for the latest stages of the disease as aforementioned, since the health of the patient along with the spreading of the tumor makes surgery extremely risky.
Another possible future option is in the form of a vaccine. Known as the CRS-207, the vaccination works by boosting the immune system enough to attack the disease, according to the American Cancer Society. Although its still in its trial phase, several patients who participate in a clinical trial extended their life expectancy rates. The patients’ disease stages ranged from early to advanced stages. For more detailed information on the CRS-207, contact your physician.
Aside from or along with traditional treatments, many mesothelioma patients have opted for a range of complementary and alternative treatments. Specific herbs and vitamins, acupuncture, yoga, meditation, and holistic healing are among a few of the examples that can be utilized. Although many alternative treatments are not recognized in traditional medical practices, an array of physicians are coming around and taking notice of how effective these non-traditional treatments can be. In some cases, physicians have opened up their own alternative medicine practice.
source of article: https://www.mesotheliomalawyercenter.org/mesothelioma-cancer/