Workers Exposed Asbestos & Developed Mesothelioma Can File Lawsuit
Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that affects roughly 3,000 individuals each year in the U.S. According to reports, the form of cancer was linked originally with asbestos building supplies that were used in the construction of factories, mills, and shipyards. However, the asbestos products were also used in constructing residential properties as well. With the growing number of mesothelioma cases by the 1970s, government agencies moved to lower the risks associated with asbestos. Many victims are searching for information about mesothelioma class action lawsuit or in other words mesothelioma class action suits. Asbestos cases are not class actions. “More than 4,000 asbestos lawsuits were filed in the U.S. in 2017, according to a KCIC industry report. Combining all those lawsuits into a single class action would not be good for the people filing them because each asbestos exposure case is unique.” asbestos.com
Mesothelioma is one of the most deadly cancers in existence. It is cancer of the tissue that lines your internal organs. While there are treatments that can prolong your life after diagnosis or reduce the amount of discomfort that you suffer, the disease is incurable and the five-year survival rate is very low.
Mesothelioma Is Very Rare and Very Deadly
The first thing that you need to know about mesothelioma is that it is very rare. In fact, there are only an average of 3,000 cases each year in the United States. This means that roughly one in every 3,000 cases of cancer in the U.S. is mesothelioma. It is one of the more uncommon types of cancer. Mesothelioma is more common in men among women for reasons that we will describe later. Mesothelioma seldom if ever happens on its own without a cause. Unlike most other types of cancer, you will not simply get mesothelioma naturally because of a mutation within your body. Instead, people get mesothelioma because they are exposed to something hazardous. The tumors on the tissue lining result from some type of substances entering your body that inflame them.
Asbestos Is the Common Cause of Mesothelioma
In the case of mesothelioma, the most common cause is exposure to asbestos. This is a naturally occurring substance that is a silicate mineral taken from the ground. Asbestos is used to make things fire-resistant, and was a common building material up until the 1970s. However, asbestos is now known to be deadly, and its use has killed tens of thousands of people. In fact, 6% of the people who had prolonged exposure to asbestos will end up dying at some point of mesothelioma.
The people at the highest risk of mesothelioma include miners, factory workers and people who worked with building insulation. Even family members end up at risk because these workers came home regularly with asbestos fibers on their clothing. Asbestos was not just found in factories and in building products, but it was also used in roughly 750,000 schools. There have even been cases where school workers and teachers developed mesothelioma after being in the school building for a prolonged period.
Mesothelioma from Asbestos is one of the Largest Mass Torts in History
As a result of the thousands of people who were sickened by asbestos, it has become one of the largest mass torts in legal history. Companies are still being sued for the damage that people suffered from asbestos exposure. Other companies went bankrupt due to the crushing liability that they faced after exposing people to a material that killed them. While mesothelioma is rare, it is one of the more common asbestos side effects. The unfortunate fact about a mesothelioma diagnosis is that it means that there is an overwhelming chance that the person diagnosed will die within five years.
Asbestos Fibers Build Up in the Body and Cause Mesothelioma
To learn more about mesothelioma, it is important to understand more about what it is. Mesothelioma occurs when you have ingested or inhaled certain fibers, most often from asbestos. These fibers can get lodged in your tissue, most often surrounding your lungs because you have breathed them in from the air. Unfortunately, the toxicity of the fibers means that they stay in your body and build up over time. They will inflame the tissue. Eventually, the inflammation will lead to tumors growing at the site. This is when the ailment has progressed to cancer.
The Four Different Types of Mesothelioma
There are four different types of mesothelioma. There are different classifications depending on the location of the tumor. While mesothelioma in general is a deadly disease, the conditions can be even more virulent depending on where the tumor is. Here are the four primary types of mesothelioma:
- Pleural mesothelioma affecting the lungs
- Peritoneal mesothelioma affecting the abdomen
- Epithelioid mesothelioma impacting the epithelioid cells
- Biphasic mesothelioma affecting the epithelioid and sarcomatoid cells
Mesothelioma affects the sarcomatoid cells
In addition, there are forms of mesothelioma that also impact the heart, testes and sarcomatoid cells. When mesothelioma affects the sarcomatoid cells, it is considered to be the most aggressive form of the cancer. The life expectancy for those cases does not exceed eight months. Your lungs and internal organs each have lining that acts to protect them. This tissue is wrapped very tightly onto the lungs and cushions them. The pleural cavity allows the lungs to function normally when you are breathing. Given how crucial the pleural is to your breathing function, you can understand why mesothelioma is so deadly.
Diagnosed mesothelioma cases in the lungs
The same goes for other types of mesothelioma. The lining of the organs are part of the organ itself. A tumor in the lining will cripple the function of the organ. When the lining of your abdomen has an aggressive tumor, stomach function would shut down relatively quickly. While mesothelioma is generally rare, the most common type is the pleural form that affects the lungs. This makes sense because the most common exposure to asbestos is through the lungs. Roughly 75% of the diagnosed mesothelioma cases are in the lungs. Somewhere between 1 in 50 and 1 in 10 people who have had prolonged exposure to asbestos have contracted pleural mesothelioma.
The Prognosis After Being Diagnosed with Mesothelioma
Unfortunately, the prognosis for people who are diagnosed with mesothelioma is not an optimistic one. Of course, how long someone lives depends on how early the cancer is caught and the type of treatment they receive. Sometimes, the cancer is caught late, and the only treatment that can be given is palliative. Patients are living longer with mesothelioma due to some of the treatments, but the five-year survival rate remains poor. Even when the disease is caught at Stage 1, doctors can only slow the progress of mesothelioma. In this case, the five-year survival rate tops out at 16%. When the patient is diagnosed at Stage 2, the five-year survival rate drops to 10%.
Lifespan is reduced when the cancer is diagnosed later.
The average lifespan for a patient diagnosed with Stage 1 mesothelioma is roughly 22 months. Around 43% of these patients can live for two years after the diagnosis. However, the lifespan is reduced when the cancer is diagnosed later. Doctors may still be able to perform surgery when the mesothelioma is found relatively early. They can generally perform surgery on Stage 1 and 2 cases of the disease. However, in the later stages, doctors can only treat the disease as opposed to performing surgery. Even surgery will not cure the patient. Instead, it will merely prolong their life.
Unfortunately, full remissions will almost never happen with mesothelioma. The best that patients can hope for is partial remission that will give them more years and a better quality of life. Patients who are diagnosed with mesothelioma need to get their affairs in order quickly because they do not know how rapidly the disease will progress. When you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, there is almost always a company that is responsible for it. Whether the exposure was on the job or through a product that you purchased, someone made the decision to use a defective and deadly substance. This means that nearly every single case of mesothelioma could result in some kind of settlement or jury award. Defendants do not like to fight mesothelioma cases in court because the liability for the use of asbestos is already very well established in court.
longest-running series of product liability lawsuits
This is why you need to contact a lawyer if you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma. You may be entitled to substantial financial compensation The asbestos lawsuits and mesothelioma lawsuits are one of the longest-running series of product liability lawsuits in existence in this country. Cases in this area span almost 50 years dating back to the first major victory for a plaintiff in this case. Asbestos is a naturally occurring substance that had been used in building in this country for many years, notwithstanding the common knowledge that it was dangerous and could make people sick. Millions of people were exposed to the substance. Those who have been exposed to asbestos are at risk for developing mesothelioma, which is an aggressive and regularly fatal form of lung cancer.
If you have been exposed to asbestos and have shown symptoms of mesothelioma, it is vital that you contact a mesothelioma lawsuit lawyer or a mesothelioma law firm immediately as the statute of limitations may impact your ability to receive asbestos exposure lawsuit compensation. Many victims are searching for information about: “mesothelioma cancer lawsuit”, “Mesothelioma class action suit” and “mesothelioma symptoms.”
Mesothelioma: Causes and Symptoms
The primary cause of mesothelioma is exposure to harmful substances that accumulate in the lining surrounding bodily organs. Most commonly, this substance is asbestos. Roughly 80% of mesothelioma cases involve exposure to asbestos. While this is the most common cause, there are other ways that people can contract mesothelioma. Some people are more susceptible to the disease because of genetic factors. Scientists have not narrowed down one specific cause of mesothelioma when the person was not exposed to asbestos. There was some thought that a certain particular virus could ultimately result in the disease, but scientists have discredited the theory.
The Most Common Cause of Mesothelioma Is Asbestos Exposure
Researchers are still learning more about the exact way that asbestos exposure causes mesothelioma. The common theory is that asbestos fibers are breathed in and make their way through to the lungs. However, people also develop other types of mesothelioma besides pleural mesothelioma. For instance, scientists believe that abdominal mesothelioma can result when people swallow asbestos fibers. In any event, people ingest or inhale asbestos, and it can travel throughout the human body.
Asbestos Build Up in the Body Over Time
What is known is that asbestos exposure can result in a permanent buildup of fibers in the body. Asbestos is a durable mineral that does not fully decay or go away over time. Instead, it can accumulate in the body. Your body simply cannot rid itself of asbestos once it has entered the body. The most common place that it builds up is in the lungs when people breathe it through the air. However, these fibers can also build up elsewhere in the body, hence the fact that there are four primary different types of mesothelioma and other more rare forms of the disease.
Mesothelioma Often Starts with Years of Inflammation
Once asbestos fibers are in the body, they can have a number of harmful effects. One thing that they can do over time is inflame the cells in the lining of major organs. A significant buildup of these fibers will cause even greater inflammation. The important thing to know is that this inflammation occurs over time. It does not happen immediately after someone inhales or ingests asbestos. In some cases, it can take 30-50 years for the exposure to develop into a case of mesothelioma.
After the asbestos fibers begin to inflame the cells in the body. The problem is by killing cells, asbestos fibers begin the process of causing cancer. Specifically, when asbestos kills your cells, it stimulates the release of a protein called HMGB1. This particular type of protein causes the release of DNA that can cause cancer.
The Inflammation Causes Damage to the DNA
This entire process also begins to damage the DNA in these cells. There are a number of different ways that asbestos fibers damage the body’s DNA. They can cause genetic mutations in the cells, creating the conditions for cancer. They can also cause other cancerous mutations of the cells. Finally, asbestos fibers will cause oncoproteins to grow in your body. These are the building blocks of cancer.
Most scientists agree that it is the irritation of the cells that cause mesothelioma. Patients may also have certain genetic predispositions that can result in asbestos exposure causing their cancer. This is why only a small proportion of people who have been exposed to asbestos ultimately develop mesothelioma. Specifically, 2-10% of people who have prolonged asbestos exposure develop pleural mesothelioma. 20% of people with exposure will ultimately develop some sort of life-threatening sickness.
One of the reasons why mesothelioma is so deadly and incurable is that it results from long-term damage to the cells. There is simply no way to reverse the damage and eradicate the tumors. Another reason why mesothelioma is so deadly in such a short time frame is that it is difficult to diagnose. The early symptoms of mesothelioma are similar to a whooping cough, and there is little to suggest from these early signs that a patient is suffering from a disease as deadly as mesothelioma.
Symptoms of Pleural Mesothelioma
The symptoms of mesothelioma will depend on the type of disease that you have. The most common early stage symptom of pleural mesothelioma is a chronic cough that will not go away. Early symptoms would also include hoarse voice and some trouble swallowing.
As pleural mesothelioma progresses, patients can experience the following:
- Coughing up blood
- Chest pains and heart arrhythmia
- Extreme tiredness and fatigue
- Fluid around the lungs
- Rapid weight loss
- Faint breathing
Treating the symptoms is key to managing the disease. Some courses of treatment can actually shrink the tumors for a certain period of time. Other courses of treatment aim to reduce the symptoms and make the patient more comfortable. This is also known as palliative care. The degree to which the treatment can work on some of the symptoms depends on the stage of the disease. Mesothelioma is often difficult to diagnose. When caught late, the symptoms are more difficult to treat.
Symptoms of Peritoneal Mesothelioma
Peritoneal mesothelioma is when the lining of the abdomen develops a tumor. Accordingly, the type of symptoms that patients will experience will resemble those from any other kind of serious stomach illness. These symptoms include:
- Loss of appetite
- Sudden and severe weight loss
- Constipation and other trouble with bowel movements
- Abdominal swelling
- Stomach pain
- Nausea and vomiting
Medicine Can Now Help Treat Symptoms Better
There has been some progress in terms of treatment of mesothelioma. Medicine has developed some ways to prolong the survival of a mesothelioma patient. Most important, there have been advances that can help manage some of these symptoms and give patients more quality of life in their remaining time. While mesothelioma is still incurable and very few patients will survive five years after diagnosis, the onset of severe symptoms can be delayed by treatment if the disease is diagnosed early enough. Other types of mesothelioma will have symptoms based on the area of the body that the disease affects. For example, testicular mesothelioma will result in pain and lumps in the testicles.
Get Legal Help Now
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you may be entitled to substantial financial compensation. Since mesothelioma is nearly always fatal, the amount of damages is likely to be higher since wrongful death will often be an element of the claim. If the patient has passed away during the legal proceedings as is often the case, their loved ones can receive the money from the defendant. Contact a mesothelioma attorney today to learn more about your legal rights and how you can obtain damages for your suffering or that of a loved one.
Asbestos used for insulation
From the turn of the twentieth century, asbestos was commonly used. In World War II, it was prominently featured in shipbuilding. Asbestos’ flexible properties made it a useful product in buildings and machinery. It was extensively used as insulation, especially for pipes. Demand for asbestos peaked in the 1970s before the documented health problems that it causes led to its being phased out of regular use. Not only has asbestos contaminated buildings, but its presence in the ground has also tainted products that are made with talc, due the asbestos’ proximity to talc while in the ground. Even crayons have been found to include small amounts of asbestos. In addition, asbestos was also contained in certain automotive products as well as cement. More information
Asbestos exposure symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath
- Dry cough or wheezing
- Crackling sound when breathing
- Chest pain or tightness
- Mesothelioma class action suit
- Respiratory complications
- Pleural effusion (accumulation of fluid in the space surrounding a lung)
- Pleural plaques
- Pleural thickening
Mesothelioma symptoms | Signs of asbestos exposure affecting other parts of the body
- Abdominal swelling and distention
- Abdominal or pelvic pain
- Bowel obstruction
- Weight loss
Although the EPA unsuccessfully tried to ban the use of asbestos, the product’s utilization is not tightly controlled and limited. Nonetheless, mesothelioma lawsuits and asbestos lawsuits are still being filed even though asbestos use began to be phased out many years ago. This is because asbestos suit claimants are still getting sick from exposure that happened years ago and do not have to actually bring a claim until they manifest symptoms. Even though this product liability and asbestos lawsuits litigation has been around for nearly 50 years and hundreds of billions of dollars in compensation has been paid, liability in some of these cases is still hotly contested at trial. Asbestos lawsuits are complex matters that should not be handled by a local attorney who moonlights as a traffic ticket lawyer. There is no such book as a ‘class action guide’ that a local real estate lawyer could read and be able to take big corporations to the proverbial mat. Class action lawsuit examples that a small claims attorney reads about on the internet will not help a local solicitor.
A mesothelioma class action?
There are no mesothelioma class action books available. An Asbestos exposure lawsuit (asbestos lawsuits) is a serious matter that can only be handled by top experienced lawyers or an asbestos litigation group made up of the best lawyers.
First known effects of asbestos were seen in 1933
The first study showing asbestos could be linked to cancer was in the 1930s. The first known effects of asbestos were seen in 1933, when one in every three workers in an asbestos factory were made sick. The first known case of mesothelioma caused by asbestos was reported in 1953. Soon, it was widely accepted that asbestos was dangerous and could have a harmful effect on those who have been exposed to it. Even though the connection between asbestos and mesothelioma was well-established, asbestos manufacturers ignored the warnings and continued to sell their product. This placed millions of additional people at risk. It is estimated that up to 100 million people were exposed to asbestos. By the early 2000s, there were approximately 2,500 new cases of mesothelioma each year.
In 1969, the first case was won by a U.S. plaintiff
Despite the known causation of health effects from asbestos, early personal injury claims were unsuccessful. In 1969, the first case was won by a U.S. plaintiff who contracted mesothelioma from exposure to asbestos. This verdict was upheld on appeal. The plaintiff had been working as an industrial insulation worker for over 30 years and was exposed to asbestos the entire time. Even though the plaintiff had suspected that asbestos was dangerous, he continued to breathe it because he had not been warned of the exact danger. The plaintiff contracted mesothelioma and died before the case went to trial. In the decision, the court found that asbestos was unreasonable dangerous and the plaintiff should have been warned of the dangers. If you are looking to get involved in a mesothelioma class action suit, contact a mesothelioma class action suits law firm.
In another key holding for future asbestos litigation, the court held that the statute of limitations begins to run when the plaintiff first suffers the effects of exposure to asbestos as opposed to when they were actually exposed. Other states changed their laws to achieve the same result.
Statute of limitations begins to run when the plaintiff first suffers the effects of exposure to asbestos
In another key holding for future asbestos litigation, the court held that the statute of limitations begins to run when the plaintiff first suffers the effects of exposure to asbestos as opposed to when they were actually exposed. Other states changed their laws to achieve the same result. In order to best understand how these theories apply to the medical devices field, it is instructive to focus on several of the major products liability cases in this area. In the event that a claimant needs to file an asbestos lawsuit or mesothelioma cancer lawsuit in order to achieve a recovery, many of the asbestos cases have been consolidated into multi-district litigation. This litigation is in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and has been open for over 20 years. Given the differences in individual’s exposure to asbestos, it is difficult to file a class action suit since the commonality of injury is lacking.
Please note that consolidation is NOT the same thing as a class action lawsuit. To date, there are no class action suits for asbestos claims because these types of suits are usually only suitable for smaller claims.
Obvious defendant is the manufacturer of the asbestos
There are many different potential defendants in an asbestos-related claim a.k.a an asbestos suit The obvious defendant is the manufacturer of the asbestos. In addition, suits have been filed against nearly any entity that has had anything to do with asbestos. For example, a bank who financed a construction project where asbestos was installed has been named as a defendant. Retailers of asbestos-related products have also been sued. As with any product liability case, the range of prospective defendants is a wide one. Anyone who has touched asbestos in the stream of commerce or had anything to do with its installation in any way is a possible defendant. Once liability is established, all of the defendants that are culpable are jointly and severally liable and they must fight each other to figure out who pays what share.
Mesothelioma cancer lawsuit attorney
When you contact an asbestos lawsuit lawyer or mesothelioma cancer lawsuit attorney to discuss your possible asbestos-related claim, you can receive an assessment of your chances to receive compensation for your exposure to the hazardous substance. While there is no guarantee of any recovery, you may be entitled to a substantial recovery as a result of mesothelioma symptoms if you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma as a result of your exposure to asbestos.
Understanding the Law and Asbestos
OSHA Regulations and Workers Compensation- In the 1970s, the Clean Air Act and the Toxic Substances Control Act were passed to manage how asbestos was used and to regulate the disposal of the materials. Unfortunately, even with the new laws in place, businesses continued to use asbestos in industrial spaces, and more workers developed the occupational disease and died. This lead to the Asbestos Ban and Phase Out Rule in 1989.
According to OSHA regulations, all industrial spaces where asbestos was used must undergo renovations to remove the building materials and prevent common risks to workers. If the employer failed to comply, OSHA retains the right to take legal action against the employer, and workers can utilize their rights to worker’s compensation coverage and benefits according to federal laws. The laws require the employer to send workers to an ER or urgent care facility for testing if they suspect that the worker has developed the disease. Any evidence of mesothelioma is managed initially through the worker’s compensation claims for the occupational disease.
How Do Workers Develop Mesothelioma?
The asbestos building material is distributed throughout the workplace in the form of dust. Over time, the material wears down and dust falls from it. If renovations or repairs are conducted, workers could be exposed to the dust as they drill into the materials. However, the workers inhale the dust as it spreads through ventilation systems primarily. The prolonged exposure or inhalation of the dust leads to the development of mesothelioma.
Are There Different Types of Mesothelioma?
Yes, there are four different types of mesothelioma. The cancer affects the lungs, heart, abdomen, or testicles. Once the location of the disease is discovered, the doctor establishes if the patient has sarcomatoid, epithelioid, or biphasic forms of the disease. According to statistics, around 75% of mesothelioma cases involve epithelioid cancer cells. 10% of the cases are sarcomatoid, and 40% are biphasic. Pleural mesothelioma affects the lungs, and the form of the disease represents about 75% of the cases reported. Peritoneal or abdomen mesothelioma represents about 20% of the cases. Pericardial or heart-related mesothelioma is about 1% of the cases reported in the U.S.
How is Mesothelioma Diagnosed?
Doctors perform physical examinations to identify the location of tumors. CT scans are used to find tumors within the organ system. Biopsies are used to determine if the tumor is malignant or benign. The process could include aspiration with a fine needle, laparoscopy, thoracotomy, laparotomy, or thoracoscopy. Doctors may also perform an MRI or PET scan to diagnose the patient, too.
Is Mesothelioma a Death Sentence?
Patients who have mesothelioma tumors almost always have malignant tumors. It is rare for the doctors to find a benign tumor when diagnosing the disease. For a majority of patients who are diagnosed, the disease is a death sentence. In very rare cases, the disease responds to traditional cancer treatments, and the patient could survive. Doctors can provide chemotherapy, radiation, and surgical removal of tumors to treat the symptoms of the disease, and patients could prolong their life up to twenty-one months. However, at this time there isn’t a known cure for the disease.
What are Risk Factors for Mesothelioma?
Any workers who work within an environment were asbestos is present are at risk of developing mesothelioma. Their family members that come in direct contact with their clothing or their person are also at risk of exposure to the asbestos dust. It is recommended that the worker remove any work attire that is covered in the asbestos dust before entering their home to lower the risk to their family.
The Legal Rights of Workers and Their Family
Workers who aren’t compensated fully by worker’s compensation have the legal right to start an asbestos lawsuit. These lawsuits are not asbestos class action lawsuits. The legal action is an attempt to collect payments for all medical treatment associated with the treatment of mesothelioma and the collection of wages lost due to the development of the disease. Employers may offer a settlement for the worker due to their diagnosis and prognosis. If any direct members of the worker’s family develop the disease, the employer is responsible for their medical treatment and may offer a settlement due to their liability. However, in most cases, the family must file a legal claim to try to collect compensation for linked cases of the disease.
If the worker dies as a result of mesothelioma, the family could file a wrongful death lawsuit against the employer or their insurer. The claim could lead to the acquisition of lifetime earnings for the worker. The family could also claim certain tort-based options due to the loss of financial support, loss of companionship for spouses, and mental anguish. An attorney explains which options are available to the family when the claim is started.
Class Action Lawsuits Against the Employer
If a workers was exposed to asbestos and developed mesothelioma, an attorney could file a lawsuit. Under the circumstances, the attorney works with the patients who are at the greatest risk at the time that the claim is filed. When a worker develops an occupational disease due to an employer’s failures, the litigant goes to court to get justice and compensation This includes individuals who are terminal and others with serious prognosis.
Workers or their family members who have been diagnosed with any form of mesothelioma must act quickly to file a legal claim. The disease is terminal and while it is treatable in some stages, there isn’t a cure. Patients who developed the disease due to the failures of their employers have the right to seek damages. Workers or families who want to start a legal claim are encouraged to contact an attorney right now.
One of the reasons why mesothelioma becomes very deadly in such a short period of time is the difficulty in diagnosing the disease. Oftentimes, doctors will think that they are dealing with any one of a number of different diseases first. Since mesothelioma is such a rare form of cancer, doctors will often misdiagnose the disease, running many tests that take time. Accordingly, by the time that they diagnose the patient with mesothelioma, the disease may have progressed to a later stage. This cuts the amount of time that a patient has left. Moreover, the more advanced the disease is, the less of an opportunity that the doctors have to treat it in a way that will give the patient some quality of life for their remaining time.
Mesothelioma Is Often Indistinguishable for Other Diseases
Among the serious challenges that doctors face in diagnosing mesothelioma is that the symptoms are nearly impossible to distinguish from other diseases. Misdiagnosis of the disease makes it much more difficult to treat. Even if doctors focus on the lungs, tumors are difficult to detect right off the bat. The doctor may diagnose another disease before running through all the tests necessary to diagnose mesothelioma. In fact, the physician may first think that their patient has pulmonary fibrosis, which is a very similar disease to mesothelioma.
Many Doctors Are Not Expecting to Diagnose Mesothelioma Since it Is So Rare
In addition, there are other difficulties in detecting the disease. Medical professionals are not expecting to diagnose mesothelioma given that there are only an average of 3,000 cases each year across the United States. When they see the symptoms that the patient is experiencing, they might first think that it is a more traditional form of lung cancer.
Further, the amount of time for which mesothelioma is latent in the body also makes the symptoms difficult to pinpoint. The symptoms of the disease can start off relatively mild because the asbestos fibers have been present in the body for decades. This means that a patient could ignore a minor but persistent cough or shortness of breath. When these first start in a tame manner, patients and their physician certainly do not anticipate that they could be mesothelioma. Many patients simply think that the symptoms are happening because they are getting older. They might not even go to the doctor to deal with them for some time.
When patients do present themselves to the doctor, their medical professional would certainly not suspect mesothelioma right off the bat. Hopefully, the doctor would take an extensive medical history as well as a personal history. This could uncover where the patient worked. Mesothelioma generally develops when patients are over the age of 70, so they are usually retired by the time that the disease strikes them.
The Steps to Diagnosing Mesothelioma
There are three general steps to the mesothelioma diagnosis process.
- The first thing that happens is that the patient will begin to experience symptoms. At this point, the disease will likely have been developing in the patient for decades.
- The doctor will run a series of tests as you will see below. The tests will grow increasingly more complicated if the doctor cannot pin down the diagnosis early.
- Once the doctor believes that mesothelioma is a possibility, they will run confirmatory tests that can include blood tests and biopsies.
Oftentimes, physicians will end up diagnosing mesothelioma only after ruling things out first by running other tests. Given the rarity of mesothelioma, this is not necessarily the doctor’s fault. Nonetheless, the patient will lose valuable time while the symptoms of the disease worsen. This is the same situation when dealing with other types of mesothelioma. Peritoneal mesothelioma is also misdiagnosed. This is a cancer of the stomach lining, and symptoms of stomach pain are frequently confused with other diseases given the rarity of this type of mesothelioma.
Science Is Progressing for Earlier Detection
The good news is that science has made some progress in earlier detection of mesothelioma. This has helped physicians treat the disease earlier, and it is prolonging life spans of diagnosed patients. Technology and advances are helping doctors get a more detailed and advanced picture earlier after the patient experiences symptoms. Below is how doctors will ultimately diagnose a patient with mesothelioma.
The Tests That Physicians Will Use for Diagnosis
Physicians will ultimately use one of a combination of different tests to detect the disease. One of the first things that physicians will do when they detect any lung abnormalities is to take a lung x-ray. This will help them spot any possible masses in the lungs. With mesothelioma, the difficulty is that they only produce basic images. Doctors will not be able to tell from an x-ray alone whether a patient has mesothelioma. More commonly, doctors will use CAT scans, which can give much more precise images than x-rays. These can allow doctors to see the lungs or other areas with more specificity. Doctors can also use MRIs and PET scans to detect tumors or abnormalities in various parts of the body.
However, these tests on their own are often not enough to confirm mesothelioma, especially given how rare the disease is. The tests listed above can give the doctors an indication that something is wrong, but something more will be needed to confirm a diagnosis.
Biopsies to Confirm an Initial Mesothelioma Diagnosis
Once these tests have suggested the presence of mesothelioma, doctors will need to perform a biopsy to confirm the diagnosis. Physicians cannot simply diagnose the disease with the scans listed above. There are a number of different types of biopsies that doctors can do in order to confirm mesothelioma. Here are a few:
- Thoracoscopy – This is an invasive biopsy procedure that is performed with the patient under general anesthesia. The surgeon inserts a camera between the ribs so it can extract fluid. The doctor will get both a view of lungs and be able to test the fluid.
- Mediastinoscopy – This procedure also uses a camera, but it is inserted at the base of the neck so the doctor can biopsy the lymph nodes.
- Thoracentesis – This is used to diagnose pleural mesothelioma. The doctor will insert a needle in the back to extract some of the pleural fluid around the lungs.
- Fine-Needle Aspiration – This is the least invasive type of biopsy, and it is performed at the same time as the CT scan under local anesthesia. The doctor is able to take a fluid sample with a needle.
Even after the medical professional confirms the diagnosis of mesothelioma, they will run additional pulmonary function tests to gauge the patient’s condition.
Early Diagnosis Is Critical for Life Expectancy and Quality of Life
Earlier diagnosis is critical when it comes to mesothelioma. Medical professionals have much more options available to them when the disease is at an earlier stage. Doctors can even perform surgery to remove the tumor. While there is no cure for mesothelioma, patients can live better and for longer when the disease is detected at stage one. When it is not diagnosed until later stages, all doctors can do is administer palliative care to make patients comfortable and reduce their pain.
In the future, science may develop blood tests that can give doctors a much more accurate marker for early diagnosis. Mesothelioma patients will often have much higher concentrations of Osteopontin and soluble mesothelin-related peptides in their blood. Accurate tests can help pinpoint some of the hallmarks of the disease earlier.
Diagnosed with Mesothelioma? Contact an Attorney Now
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you may be entitled to substantial financial compensation. Asbestos is the largest mass torts case of all-time, and companies have spent billions of dollars to settle product liability cases. Contact a mesothelioma attorney today to learn more about how you can file a claim. Even if your loved one has passed, the family would still be entitled to financial compensation so long as the claim is filed before the statute of limitations expires.