Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that affects the mesothelium, or the lining that surrounds most of our internal organs. It is almost exclusively caused by exposure to asbestos, a naturally occurring fibrous mineral that was once used in everything from building insulation and textiles to hot water pipes and brake pads. Asbestos has not been widely used in the United States for several decades, but previous exposure is still being linked to newly diagnosed cases of mesothelioma.
Asbestos was widely used in various industries for its resistance to heat, corrosion, and electricity as well as its overall toughness. It’s harmless most of the time, but it can shed microscopic fibers when it is disturbed. These fibers can be inhaled and ingested where they remain in the body for years, creating scar tissue in the mesothelium that turns into cancer.
Mesothelioma can take different forms depending on the part of the body it affects. The most common form is pleural mesothelioma, which affects the lungs. Symptoms of pleural mesothelioma include chest pains, a painful cough, shortness of breath, lumps of tissue that can be felt under the skin on the chest, unexplained weight loss, and fatigue.
Treatment options for mesothelioma can include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery to remove cancerous growths. Unfortunately, these often only serve to relieve the symptoms. By the time mesothelioma symptoms appear, the disease is almost always far enough along to be terminal.
Mesothelioma is tied almost exclusively to asbestos exposure, so those who have been exposed to the mineral in the past are the most likely to receive a diagnosis. Factory workers, shipbuilders, miners and those who worked in the automotive industry prior to the 1970s are all at risk of developing mesothelioma as are those who lived in a home that was built or renovated more than 40 years ago.
If you’ve recently been diagnosed with mesothelioma due to previous asbestos exposure, you and your family may be entitled to monetary compensation. That may seem like cold comfort if you have a terminal illness, but this compensation can be used to cover medical bills or to provide for your family when you are gone. There are malpractice lawyers who specialize in mesothelioma and asbestos exposure cases throughout the country, and they can be found as easily as Googling “medical malpractice Pittsburgh PA.” You will have to do your own vetting and research, but this is always a good place to begin your search.