Factors that precipitated your mesothelioma cancer diagnosis
What does your mesothelioma cancer diagnosis mean?
Mesothelioma is a deadly cancer that attacks your mesothelium – the protective sac that lines the internal organs. Compared to other cancers, Mesothelioma is rare, “striking fewer than 3,000 Americans a year,” but of those diagnosed, “only about 1 in 10 (10%) will be alive in 3 years, and 1 in 20 (5%) will be alive in 5 years.” (CDC)
Regretfully, a primary reason for these dismal statistics is that mesothelioma, unlike many other forms of cancer, is almost impossible to detect in its infancy. Most medical professionals agree that the best defense against cancer is early detection, but mesothelioma has a 20-40 year latency period, which means that most of your symptoms are not immediately apparent. Or, if some symptoms do arise, such as chest pain or shortness of breath during exertion, you may likely associate the symptoms with something other than mesothelioma.
As part of Weitz & Luxenberg’s continued commitment to the public, we have put together this page detailing the risk factors that may have contributed to your diagnosis, or your family member’s diagnosis, of mesothelioma. Our firm has been handling asbestos related litigation for well over twenty years, and if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.
What were the risk factors for your mesothelioma cancer?
The primary risk factor for mesothelioma is asbestos exposure. Asbestos is a human carcinogen, popular for its flexibility, durability and inflammability. It is used in the construction of commercial establishments, as well as residential structures, such as apartment buildings and homes. Because asbestos is so widely used, there is an increased chance of exposure for countless individuals. Asbestos is often utilized as an insulation material, so if you’re John and John is responsible for the repair and maintenance of high temperature boilers, there is a very good chance that he will be exposed to asbestos and suffer the devastating effects of that exposure twenty, thirty, forty years into the future.
Living with someone who works/has been exposed to asbestos:
A commonmisconception about asbestos is that one needs to work with the material directly in order to contract mesothelioma, asbestos lung cancer or asbestosis. This is not necessarily the case. Let us say that John returns home from work, with his clothes covered in asbestos fibers. He takes off the clothes, throws them into the laundry hamper and steps into the shower. His wife Lisa takes the hamper to the washing machine and manually throws the clothes inside. Then John’s two young sons, Aaron and Raymond, come home from school and Lisa, who has asbestos fibers on her clothes, goes to hug them. Whether John realizes it or not, he has exposed his entire family to asbestos. This does not guarantee that they will all become ill, but because of the 20-40 year latency period of asbestos fibers, there is no way for John, Lisa, Aaron and Raymond to know whether or not they will become sick with mesothelioma, asbestos lung cancer or asbestosis. Any of these three illnesses will not only devastate them health wise, but also emotionally and financially.
Some medical and scientific research linked “mesothelioma to the radioactive substance thorium dioxide, which was sometimes used along with X-rays to diagnose various health conditions from the 1920s to the 1950s.” (Mayo Clinic) Patients who undergo “radiation therapy treatments to the chest, such as those used to treat breast cancer or lymphoma,” (Mayo Clinic) are also at risk of mesothelioma.
Smoking alone “does not appear to increase the risk of mesothelioma, but the combination of smoking and frequent asbestos exposure significantly increases a person’s risk of developing mesothelioma, or another asbestos related disease.” (National Cancer Institute)
Mesothelioma, like other forms of cancer, generally comes about through the abnormal mutations of cells. “This mutation causes the cells to grow at an extreme rate, and the abnormal cells take over, thus forming a cancerous tumor.” These bad cells “can break off from the original tumor and metastasize to other areas of the body.” Some researchers “believe that certain elements in the environment, coupled with a person’s genetic makeup, can cause these mutations to occur.” (E How)
Further research on this is pending, but it has been suggested by some research that genetics might play a role in a person’s mesothelioma diagnosis.
Weitz & Luxenberg: Your legal advocates for asbestos litigation
Weitz & Luxenberg has passionately advocated for the legal rights of its clients since our inception in 1986. If you or someone you love has developed mesothelioma, asbestos lung cancer or asbestosis , do not wait! Contact our form via the form on this page and one of our qualified representatives will be in touch with you shortly.
National Cancer Institute: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Sites-Types/mesothelioma
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention: http://www.cdc.gov