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Mesothelioma Cancer: A Remorseless Killer

Mesothelioma is an extremely aggressive cancer. With astonishing speed, it attacks the protective linings that cover vital internal organs (this lining is called the mesothelium).

Mesothelioma is incurable but treatable. However, treatment and the long-term follow-up care it requires usually prove to be exorbitantly expensive.

4 Types of Mesothelioma

When mesothelioma develops, it usually takes one of the following forms: pleural mesothelioma, peritoneal mesothelioma, pericardial mesothelioma, and testicular mesothelioma. Pleural mesothelioma affects the lungs, while peritoneal mesothelioma involves the abdomen. Pericardial mesothelioma, meanwhile, centers on the lining of the heart. The sex organ is the target of testicular mesothelioma.

What causes Mesothelioma?

Asbestos exposure is the cause of mesothelioma cancer in the overwhelming majority of cases (exceptionally rare causes of mesothelioma include: radiation utilizing thorium dioxide; exposure to zeolite, a mineral chemically related to asbestos; and simian virus 40, also known as SV40).

Asbestos is a cheap, abundant mineral used in a wide array of everyday products (although used less today than in the past, the reason asbestos is used at all is because of its durability, flexibility and exceptional ability to insulate against fire and extreme heat).

Scientists do not fully understand how asbestos causes mesothelioma. One theory holds that tiny dust particles of asbestos in the immediate vicinity of an asbestos product are taken into the lungs through normal breathing and become permanently trapped there; then, after many years, they somehow corrupt an important gene that has as its function the prevention of cancer. Another theory takes the view that the asbestos particles trapped in the lungs cause the body to manufacture a protein that encourages cancer cells to appear.

What scientists do know with certainty is that the time between asbestos exposure and the onset of mesothelioma can span decades. As such, it is not unusual for people who encountered asbestos in their twenties to develop mesothelioma in their sixties.

Products with the Potential to Cause Mesothelioma

Yes, products containing asbestos can lead to the development of malignant mesothelioma. But which products? On the list are: cement siding panels, vinyl tiles, drywall jointing materials, thermal spray, gaskets and brake pads. People who work with these products (mechanics, construction workers, electricians, sheet metal workers and boilermakers) are at risk of inhaling the asbestos particles and fibers released by cutting, hammering or in some other way physically disturbing such items. 

But that's not all. Members of their households -- spouses, children, parents, anyone -- may also contract mesothelioma disease or one of the other asbestos cancers (such as any of six different smoker or non-smoker lung cancers) from asbestos particles and fibers unsuspectingly carried into the home on work clothes.

The one good piece of news in all this is that the risk of developing mesothelioma drops dramatically when protective breathing equipment -- respirators, for example -- are utilized around asbestos products.

However, it turns out that many companies in the asbestos industry knew all along that the mineral was dangerous yet chose not to provide protective breathing equipment to their own employees or even to warn product purchasers (and, by extension, the purchaser's employees) about those health risks. Many of these companies intentionally hid the truth about asbestos in order to protect profits rather than people.

Today, the law allows those with mesothelioma (and their families) to hold asbestos companies accountable for the harm -- a harm that each year claims the lives of approximately 3,000 people across the nation. Mesothelioma survivors often turn to the courts to compel the asbestos companies to pay for the ruinous cost of their mesothelioma treatment and to make up for all the wages lost as a result of being so sick that holding a job became an impossibility. Mesothelioma patients also use the law to force asbestos companies to provide financial security for the family members who remain behind after the disease runs its fatal full course. 

In taking such action, however, these patients succeeded in part because they acted promptly after receiving a mesothelioma diagnosis (there is only a certain amount of time available to them to sue before the law forces shut the window of opportunity).

Weitz & Luxenberg is home to many mesothelioma lawyers who have long represented people suffering from mesothelioma. During the more than quarter-century since the firm started bringing asbestos companies to justice, Weitz & Luxenberg mesothelioma attorneys have won multiplied billions of dollars for men and women cut down in their prime by the scourge of mesothelioma. Weitz & Luxenberg accepts mesothelioma cases from everywhere in the U.S., and even parts of Canada. For a free case review from a leading asbestos lawyer, simply complete the form on this page.

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