What is it?
Mesothelioma disease is a rare type of asbestos cancer that claims the lives of about 3,000 people in the U.S. every year. Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that has been used in many everyday products such as brakes, insulation material and roofing shingles. Asbestos was used commercially because of its physical characteristics. It is flexible, strong and heat resistant. These attributes made the mineral suitable for a wide range of products. Asbestos containing products however, can release asbestos fibers when disturbed. Disturbance can occur through activities such as cutting and hammering. Once asbestos fibers are released, they remain in the air for long periods of time and can be inhaled. Inhaled asbestos fibers become trapped within organs such as the lungs and lead to the development of mesothelioma disease or lung cancer.
Who is at Risk?
People who have worked with asbestos containing products and members of their household are at high risk of developing mesothelioma disease. People who are exposed to asbestos by working with asbestos containing products are said to have experienced direct asbestos exposure. Members of their household who have been exposed to asbestos by activities such as washing clothes contaminated with asbestos fibers are said to have experienced secondary asbestos exposure. Workers who are often diagnosed with mesothelioma disease include mechanics, construction workers, electricians, plumbers and boilermakers.
Mesothelioma disease occurs in the lining of bodily cavities that house organs such as the lungs, heart and abdomen. Pleural mesothelioma attacks the lining of the chest cavity and is often known as lung mesothelioma. This is the most common type of mesothelioma. Peritoneal mesothelioma develops in the lining of the abdominal cavity. Pericardial mesothelioma develops in the lining surrounding the heart.
Symptoms of mesothelioma disease appear decades after exposure to asbestos has taken place. This is because mesothelioma diseases have a long latency period. Mesothelioma symptoms vary depending on the type of mesothelioma a person has. Common symptoms are coughing, difficulty breathing, chest pain, abdominal swelling and fever.
Treatment options are focused on providing relief from mesothelioma symptoms. Common treatment options include surgery, chemotherapy, immunotherapy and photodynamic therapy (PDT). These treatment options are most successful in the early stages of mesothelioma.
Surgery involves a physical removal of body parts that have been damaged by mesothelioma. The goal of surgically removing those body parts is to limit or prevent the spread of mesothelioma disease. Surgery is an effective treatment option only in the early stages of mesothelioma.
Chemotherapy attempts to treat mesothelioma with the use of various drugs such as Alimta. Side effects of chemotherapy include anemia, hair loss, changes in appetite and fatigue.
Immunotherapy involves manipulating a mesothelioma patient's immune system so that it attacks mesothelioma cancer cells. Ordinarily, the immune system only attacks foreign substances within the body. Because mesothelioma cancer cells are produced by the body, the immune system does not attack those cells. Immunotherapy seeks to manipulate the immune system so that it considers mesothelioma cancer cells as foreign substances.
Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a mesothelioma disease treatment technique that uses light of a specific wavelength to kill mesothelioma cancer cells. The mesothelioma treatment PDT has side effects such as skin discoloration, damage to healthy cells located near cancer cells and heightened sensitivity to light.
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Mesothelioma disease is typically the result of reckless conduct of companies in the asbestos industry. Many companies in the asbestos industry knew about the dangers of asbestos and concealed them so that they could continue using asbestos and maintain profitability. The companies also failed to provide workers with equipment such as masks to prevent exposure to asbestos. As a result, thousands of people are diagnosed with mesothelioma disease every year.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma disease, contact a Weitz & Luxenberg mesothelioma attorney to learn about your rights. Weitz & Luxenberg mesothelioma lawyers are the leading asbestos attorneys in the U.S. The lawyers have won millions of dollars for thousands of people suffering from mesothelioma disease. For a free case review from a leading asbestos lawyer, complete the form on this page.