Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer in which malignant (cancerous) cells are found in the mesothelium, which is a protective sac that covers most of the body’s internal organs. The mesothelium has different names, depending on its location in the body. By way of example, the peritoneum is the mesothelial tissue that covers most of the organs in the abdominal cavity. For the most part, people who develop mesothelioma have worked in industries where asbestos was used heavily.
Mesothelioma (cancer of the mesothelium) is a disease in where cells of the mesothelium become abnormal and divide without control or order. Often times the cells invade and damage nearby tissues and organs. Cancer cells can metastasize (spread) from their original site to other parts of the body causing all types of complications.For the most part mesothelioma starts in the pleura or peritoneum (the tissues that cover most of the organs in the abdominal cavity).
Working with asbestos is the major risk factor for mesothelioma. A history of asbestos exposure at work is reported in about 70 percent to 80 percent of all cases. An increased risk of developing mesothelioma has been found among shipyard workers, people who work in asbestos mines and mills, producers of asbestos products, workers in the heating and construction industries, and other tradespeople.However, mesothelioma has been reported in some individuals without any known exposure to asbestos. Today, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sets limits for acceptable levels of asbestos exposure in the workplace. And people who work with asbestos are required to wear personal protective equipment to lower their risk of exposure.
Symptoms of mesothelioma may not appear until 30 to 50 years after exposure to asbestos. The symptoms can include shortness of breath and pain in the chest due to an accumulation of fluid in the pleura. Symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma can include weight loss and abdominal pain and swelling due to a buildup of fluid in the abdomen. Other symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma may include bowel obstruction, blood clotting abnormalities, anemia, and fever. If the cancerous cells have spread beyond the mesothelium to other parts of the body, symptoms may include pain, trouble swallowing, or swelling of the neck or face.
Diagnosing mesothelioma is often difficult, due to the fact that the symptoms are similar to those of a number of other conditions. The process begins with a review of the patient’s medical history, including any history of asbestos exposure. A complete physical examination may be performed, including x-rays of the chest or abdomen and lung function tests. The doctor may also want to conduct a CT scan or MRI. To confirm a diagnosis of mesothelioma, a biopsy is needed. If the diagnosis is confirmed, your doctor will want to determine the stage (or extent) of the disease.
Treating mesothelioma depends on the location of the cancer, the stage of the disease, and the patient’s age and general health. Standard treatment options include surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. Sometimes, these treatments are combined.
If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you may be eligible to file a claim or lawsuit against the companies responsible for your exposure and illness. At Sutliff & Stout, PLLC, we will help you research and investigate your claims, and lawyers will represent you throughout every phase of litigation and trial.
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