According to the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), mesothelioma occurs when cells in the mesothelium, or lining of organs, change and reproduce too rapidly. This out-of-control growth causes cancers, such as mesothelioma. While this specific type of cancer affects a relatively small percentage of the population, its aggressive nature makes it difficult to treat. “The overall 5-year survival rate for people with mesothelioma is only 10% because it is usually diagnosed at a late stage,” the ASCO says on its website Cancer.net.
If you or a loved one receives a diagnosis of mesothelioma, or if a loved one has lost their life to the disease as a result of working with or around asbestos, a Missouri mesothelioma lawyer might be able to help you pursue financial awards. Call Pintas & Mullins Law Firm today at (800) 794-0444 to speak with our legal team about your free case evaluation.
Mesothelioma and Asbestos Exposure
Most cases of mesothelioma result from exposure to asbestos, according to the American Cancer Society. Asbestos is a naturally occurring but deadly mineral whose fibers cause scarring of the lungs, which can lead to mesothelioma over time.
Many people who receive a mesothelioma diagnosis have not had exposure to asbestos for years or even decades, and most encountered it in their workplaces. Because the body cannot effectively rid the lungs of the inflammation-causing fibers, the affected cells could gradually develop into cancer.
Despite knowing the risks of asbestos for more than half a century, the United States has imposed some regulations on its use but has not joined the European Union in imposing a ban. This means that workers in many industries, particularly construction trades, might still have some exposure to asbestos.
No safe level of asbestos exists. While a person’s chances of developing mesothelioma increase the longer they are exposed, a Harvard University article notes that some patients who had worked with the substance for less than a week had noticeable lung scarring 30 years later.
Prevalence of Mesothelioma
In 1950, reports of mesothelioma occurred so infrequently that some pathologists questioned whether it even existed. Then the 1970s and 1980s saw an influx in cases, particularly among those who had worked with asbestos. Scientists discovered that the disease has a long latency period, which means it usually takes many years for symptoms to appear.
As public awareness about the effects of asbestos grew, more than 5,000 common household products and building materials still contained asbestos, according to the Cleveland Clinic. These products included:
- Pipe and furnace insulation
- Shingles and siding
- Electrical wire casings
- Floor tiles
- Fireproof curtains and blankets
- Automobile brake components
- Certain plastics, paints, and adhesives
While not all who had occupational asbestos exposure develop mesothelioma, the large majority of those who develop the disease have had exposure. Despite having reached a peak in mesothelioma diagnoses, an estimated 3,000 people in the United States learn they have mesothelioma each year, according to the ASCO.
If you or a loved one suffers from mesothelioma or your loved one died from the disease, a Missouri mesothelioma lawyer can review your case and help you explore your legal options, including compensation. Call Pintas & Mullins Law Firm today to speak with our legal team to discuss your case.
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Signs of Mesothelioma
The signs of mesothelioma vary by type, although any form can cause typical symptoms of illness such as fever, malaise, and night sweats. Because more general symptoms often appear first, doctors sometimes have a challenging time diagnosing mesothelioma right away.
Mesothelioma that affects the lining of the lungs, known as pleural mesothelioma, causes tumors to develop in the chest cavity and lungs due to the scarring and inflammation resulting from asbestos exposure. According to the Mayo Clinic, pleural mesothelioma symptoms often include chest pain, painful coughing, and shortness of breath.
Other patients with mesothelioma suffer from the type that affects the lining of the abdomen, known as peritoneal mesothelioma. Symptoms may include abdominal pain and swelling, nausea, and unexplained weight loss.
Some people also develop rare forms of mesothelioma, which can affect the lining of the heart (pericardial mesothelioma) or the lining of the testicles (testicular mesothelioma).
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Diagnosis and Treatment of Mesothelioma
If your doctor thinks you might have mesothelioma, they will likely order a series of tests, starting with the imaging of your chest or abdomen. They will check for abnormalities and, if detected, may perform a biopsy on the area of concern to test it for cancer. If tests confirm the presence of mesothelioma, they may order further imaging to determine if the mesothelioma has spread throughout the body.
A cure for mesothelioma does not exist, but treatments can help alleviate the patient’s symptoms. Treatments may include surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiation, or palliative care. Your treatment options may depend on the stage of your mesothelioma, which has four stages.
- Stage 1: One tumor exists and has not spread.
- Stage 2: Tumor growth has invaded nearby organs, such as the lung or heart.
- Stage 3: Mesothelioma has spread across a large region of the body.
- Stage 4: Mesothelioma has spread to other organs in distant areas of the body.
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A Missouri Mesothelioma Lawyer Can Help You Pursue Your Case
When some victims began taking legal action against companies regarding mesothelioma, some bankruptcy-facing companies created asbestos trust funds to compensate those affected by the disease and other asbestos-related conditions. These trusts also put money aside to cover future claims concerning asbestos.
Still, some mesothelioma victims and their families may instead choose to file a lawsuit for damages suffered as a result of the diagnosis or the loss of a loved one. They also might hire an attorney who can work on their behalf to pursue financial awards in a personal injury or wrongful death case.
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In Missouri, victims and their families have up to five years from the date of their diagnosis (Missouri Code § 516.120) or three years from the date of their loved one’s death (Missouri Code § 537.080) to pursue legal action for their mesothelioma case. The statute of limitations does not apply to asbestos trusts, which each have their own time limits.
If a doctor gave you or a loved one a diagnosis of mesothelioma that occupational exposure to asbestos caused, a Missouri mesothelioma lawyer can inform you of asbestos trust deadlines, help you decide on a legal approach, and pursue financial recovery that is fair to you.
Our case evaluations are free, and we do not charge any fees unless we achieve financial awards in your favor. Call Pintas & Mullins Law Firm today at (800) 794-0444 to get started on your case.