An Overview of Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer. Mesothelioma is the term used to describe a cancerous tumor which involves the mesothelial cells of an organ, usually the lungs, heart or abdominal organs.
This type of tumor is invasive and very aggressive. However, there are a number of treatments that give us hope. The average mesothelioma patient is first diagnosed with an onset of symptoms which may include:
- Cough, shortness of breath and difficulty breathing
- Pain in the chest and/or abdominal region
- Loss of appetite and loss of weight
- Fluid accumulation in chest or abdominal region
Mesothelioma is almost always precipitated by exposure to asbestos—on the job or otherwise. In many cases, very little exposure is required, but those jobs most often associated with asbestos exposure such as auto mechanic, boilermaker, insulator, and sailor (navy and merchant marines) impose a much higher risk of mesothelioma.
Massive amounts of asbestos were used in shipbuilding and commercial construction prior to the mid-1970's. Anyone involved with those industries is at a high risk for developing an asbestos-related disease, including mesothelioma.
A unique feature of asbestos-related disease is the long latency period between exposure and the onset of the disease. For mesothelioma the average latency period is 35-40 years. According to the National Cancer Institute, approximately 3,000 cases of mesothelioma are reported annually in the United States alone.
The NCI also estimates that 8 million people have been exposed to asbestos on the job in the past 50 years. These figures indicate the probability of 300,000 new mesothelioma cases diagnosed by 2030.
Asbestos Industry Had Knowledge
Many of the manufacturers of asbestos-containing products knew for years that asbestos was hazardous, yet made an affirmative decision not to warn workers. Consequently, an asbestos patient may have a right of recovery against the manufacturer. A monetary recovery can help defray the cost of treatment and provide compensation for pain and suffering.
As the disease progresses rapidly it is very important that, in addition to medical treatment, legal representation is obtained soon after diagnosis so that compensation can be obtained for the patient, his or her spouse and family.
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