Mesothelioma is not always fatal. About 80 percent of people diagnosed with stage 1 (localized) mesothelioma die within five years after their initial diagnosis, according to the American Cancer Society. Approximately nine out of ten people who have more advanced stages of mesothelioma will die within the first five years after being diagnosed.
Of course, there are some patients who beat these odds and live longer than average.
Why Mesothelioma Has a Poor Survival Rate
Some types of cancer are more likely to be caught in earlier stages because there are screenings or some other form of early diagnostic tests. For example, mammograms screen for breast cancer and colonoscopies can detect colorectal cancer. Regular screenings can lead to earlier diagnosis and better survival rates.
There are imaging tests for mesothelioma that doctors can recommend for people with a known history of asbestos exposure. There are also blood tests that may be helpful, but these tests are not always accurate.
That is why most people receive a diagnosis of mesothelioma only when they actively have symptoms of the disease. By this time, the disease has usually spread beyond the lung’s lining and into the lymph nodes or distant parts of the body.
Risk Factors for Mesothelioma
The greatest risk for developing mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos, a known carcinogen (something that causes cancer). Asbestos was ideal for construction, shipbuilding, automotive manufacturing, and other commercial uses.
Today we know that asbestos is a carcinogen and that regular exposure to this substance is the most common cause of mesothelioma. About 80% of people diagnosed with mesothelioma had a history of asbestos exposure, according to the American Cancer Society.
People Most Likely Exposed to Asbestos
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry (ATSDR), asbestos exposure peaked in the 1960s and 1970s, but more regulations were put in place to limit the use. However, people previously exposed might develop mesothelioma years later.
According to the ATSDR, people in professions with a high risk of asbestos exposure include, but are not limited to:
- Construction workers
- Demolition workers
- Insulators and HVAC workers
- Shipbuilders and renovators
- Auto mechanics
- Military personnel
You can be exposed to asbestos if you are renovating an older home. There are asbestos removal specialists who have the necessary protective gear and equipment to safely remove asbestos from your home.
For a free legal consultation, call (800) 794-0444
What Makes Asbestos Exposure Dangerous
Asbestos has long, flexible fibers that can be breathed into the lungs. You probably do not notice these tiny fibers during exposure, but over time, they can cause inflammation and scarring in your lungs. This damage may cause the normal, healthy cells in your lungs and the lining of the lungs to become cancerous.
Treatment Options for Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma is not always fatal, but for most people who are diagnosed with the disease, treatment options are more focused on comfort, rather than survival. Only 20 percent of those who are diagnosed with the most localized stage of the disease survive five years past their initial diagnosis.
There are limited treatment options, especially if the cancer has spread beyond the lungs.
Treatment options include:
- Radiation therapy
- Palliative care
Palliative care is not confined to someone’s final days. It is an interdisciplinary approach designed to give pain and symptom relief and other treatment for a better quality of life.
According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of mesothelioma include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Painful cough
- Lumps on your chest
- Unintentional weight loss
- Chest pain
If you have these symptoms and a history of asbestos exposure, we encourage you to see your doctor or healthcare provider.
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Why You Might Call a Law Firm After a Mesothelioma Diagnosis
Being diagnosed with mesothelioma is devastating. The American Cancer Society advises that patients learn as much as they can about their treatment options.
You may also call a lawyer who accepts mesothelioma cases. In some situations, a lawyer can help pursue compensation for work-related asbestos exposure, including damages for:
- Medical care and treatment
- Lost income
- Diminished quality of life
- Pain and suffering
- Funeral and burial expenses in wrongful death cases
You have a limited time to recover damages, so you are encouraged to learn about your legal options as soon as you can.
Call Today for a Free Consultation
The Pintas & Mullins Law Firm can help you recover compensation for your losses and suffering. Please call us today for a free consultation with a member of our firm at (800) 794-0444.