Mesothelioma is a cancer caused by using or being exposed to asbestos fibers that affect the mesothelial (surrounding) linings of the lungs, abdomen or heart. For many victims, mesothelioma symptoms such as coughing, shortness of breath and weight loss may not present for up to 50 years after exposure – making early diagnosis difficult and treatment options nearly impossible.
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Sadly, the prognosis for mesothelioma cancer is grim – most patients die within a year or two after diagnosis.
Other diseases associated with asbestos exposure include asbestosis (a scarring of the lung tissue from an acid produced by the body’s attempt to dissolve the fiber) and various cancers that affect the lungs, gastrointestinal tract, kidneys, ovaries, testicles and larynx.
Mesothelioma is cancer of the mesothelium – a protective lining made of mesothelial cells. The mesothelium forms sacs of fluid around most human organs to allow them to properly move and function.
Cancer in this lining causes the mesothelium cells to abnormally and uncontrollably divide – which can metastasize and spread to the organ they are protecting as well as to other organs. Although mesothelioma cancers can take anywhere from 20 to 50 years to appear, many patients die within one to two years of diagnosis.
Mesothelioma generally affects these three parts of the human body:
Pleural mesothelioma is cancer of the lungs that starts in the chest cavity or pleura, the lining around the chest cavity. It accounts for 75 percent of all mesothelioma cases. The most common symptoms include:
Traditional treatments for pleural mesothelioma include radiation, chemotherapy and surgery. While radiation and chemotherapy can help to kill cancerous cells, these methods are risky as they kill healthy cells in the process and, like all cancer treatments, can lead to other health concerns. Surgery is also an option for pleural mesothelioma by removing all or part of the affected lung. However, that can be dangerous and seriously affect a patient’s overall health and future quality of life.
Peritoneal mesothelioma is cancer of the abdomen which starts in the abdominal area or peritoneum, the lining around the abdomen. It accounts for 10-20 percent of all mesothelioma cases. The most common symptoms include:
Traditional treatments for peritoneal mesothelioma also include radiation, chemotherapy and surgery to remove the cancerous tissue in the abdomen or gastrointestinal tract. However, treatment for peritoneal mesothelioma can be difficult, as it tends to metastasize more quickly than other types of mesothelioma. In many cases, treatments simply focus on the cancer’s symptoms and not a cure.
Pericardial mesothelioma is cancer of the heart, which starts in the pericardium or the exterior lining around the heart. It accounts for only about one percent of all mesothelioma cases. The most common symptoms include:
Traditional treatments for pericardial mesothelioma also include radiation and chemotherapy; however, surgery to remove the cancer is risky due to its proximity to the heart. As with other forms of mesothelioma, many treatments simply focus on the cancer’s symptoms and not a cure.
Anyone who worked with, or was exposed to, asbestos in the past is at an increased risk of contracting mesothelioma. For decades asbestos use was common in power plants, auto plants, shipyards, chemical plants, aluminum plants, oil refineries, steel mills, paper plants, asbestos manufacturing plants and on construction job sites.
It is widely recognized that asbestos manufacturers and suppliers knew that working with, or being exposed to, asbestos had a serious risk of injury or death. However, most manufacturers and suppliers failed to warn about these known risks and failed to provide proper safety gear, putting thousands of innocent workers and their families in danger of contracting a cancer which often cannot be detected early on or successfully treated.
Over one million people have filed mesothelioma injury lawsuits against thousands of asbestos manufacturers and suppliers. Many more lawsuits are likely in the future as victims continue to be diagnosed with this fatal disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control’s National Center for Health Statistics and the National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health, 60,000 more people will die from malignant mesothelioma by the year 2030.
Many mesothelioma lawsuits have resulted in multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements, and defendants have already paid out billions of dollars. While the facts and circumstances of every case are different, mesothelioma victims and their families may be entitled to compensation for damages that include: medical costs; lost income; loss of spousal support and companionship; loss of earning capacity; loss of consortium; loss of enjoyment of life; physical impairment or disfigurement; costs of rehabilitation; emotional distress; end of life expenses; pain and suffering; punitive damages and more.
Having an experiencedmesothelioma lawyer on your side can make all the difference when seeking to prevail in your mesothelioma illness lawsuit. In addition to advising you on your rights and determining the types of compensation for which you may be entitled, an experienced mesothelioma lawyer knows which industries, companies and job sites have already been implicated in asbestos-related injuries, which asbestos manufacturers and suppliers have been found liable and in which legal venues to pursue your claim.
At Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C., our goal is to provide you with professional legal representation in personal injury, wrongful death and product liability litigation. Over the past 30 years, we have recovered over $800 million in personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits for our clients – including 200 cases with verdicts or settlements of $1 million or more.
We understand the pain associated with being diagnosed with mesothelioma years after being exposed to asbestos or to lose a loved one you never imagined could have contracted the disease. If you’ve developed mesothelioma, asbestosis or another asbestos-related injury, let our experience work for you.
For help in Chicago and throughout Illinois, contact us toll free at 312-372-1227 or use our free online contact form.