In most cases, the symptoms of malignant mesothelioma include respiratory issues such as coughing and chest pain. Other types of the disease have different symptoms, but all forms of malignant mesothelioma may give the sufferer general symptoms such as fever and fatigue, so your doctor may not diagnose you with mesothelioma right away.
According to the American Cancer Society, malignant mesothelioma—more commonly known simply as mesothelioma—refers to a type of cancer that affects the mesothelium, or lining, of certain body organs. Asbestos exposure accounts for most mesothelioma cases, and those who suffer from the disease were often exposed in their workplace for years or even decades prior to their diagnosis.
Cases of mesothelioma increased in the 1970s and peaked in the 1990s, but doctors still diagnose approximately 3,000 new cases each year. While the United States began imposing regulations on the use of asbestos when the number of cases began to rise, we have yet to ban the substance and workers in many industries still suffer exposure as a result.
If you experienced respiratory issues or other symptoms of malignant mesothelioma that led to a diagnosis of the disease, a lawyer can help you determine if you qualify for financial compensation.
According to Mayo Clinic, breathing in asbestos fibers can cause scarring of the lungs, which can lead to serious conditions such as asbestosis and malignant mesothelioma. Pleural mesothelioma is the most common type of mesothelioma, accounting for more than three-quarters of all cases.
Pleural mesothelioma affects the lining in the lungs and the chest cavity, and symptoms often do not appear until many years after exposure. These may include:
- Chest pain
- Painful coughing
- Shortness of breath
- Lumps you can feel under the surface of the skin on your chest
- Unintentional weight loss
Because of their common nature, you or your doctor may initially attribute your symptoms of malignant mesothelioma to bronchitis or other manageable respiratory concerns.
Peritoneal mesothelioma, the second most common form of the disease, occurs in an estimated 20-30% of all cases. Peritoneal mesothelioma affects the lining of the abdominal cavity as well as abdominal organs. According to the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD), the symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma focus on digestive distress, including:
- Unintentional weight loss
- Abdominal pain
- Loss of appetite
In later stages of peritoneal mesothelioma, the patient may also experience small bowel obstruction.
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The type of mesothelioma that affects the covering around the heart—known as pericardial mesothelioma—accounts for a very small number of diagnoses. This rare form of the disease may involve some of the same symptoms as pleural mesothelioma, such as chest pain and trouble breathing. Other symptoms include heart arrhythmia or low blood pressure.
Pericardial mesothelioma often mimics other conditions and doctors sometimes cannot make a diagnosis until after a surgical exploration or autopsy. If the doctor can make a diagnosis during the patient’s life, they usually discover it in a late, aggressive stage.
Because it makes up the fewest number of mesothelioma cases, research has yet to confirm specific symptoms of testicular mesothelioma, which affects the portion of the peritoneal lining that extends to the scrotum. However, some patients who received a testicular mesothelioma diagnosis reported swelling of one or both testicles and fluid accumulation in the scrotum.
Like other types of the disease, when doctors can diagnose it through imaging or surgery, they often cannot do so until it has progressed to the later stages.
Prognosis for Malignant Mesothelioma
The American Cancer Society reports that while the relative 5-year survival rate for malignant mesothelioma varies based on the stage of the disease upon its discovery, the numbers are low. As a rare disease, researchers have few resources to conduct intensive studies, resulting in a poor prognosis for those diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma.
Among those who receive an early diagnosis before their mesothelioma spreads from its original location, approximately 1 of every 5 may survive up to five years. In regional cases, when the cancer has spread to areas near the original location, patients have a 12% estimated 5-year survival rate. Less than 1 in 10 patients who receive a mesothelioma diagnosis in its latest stage survive beyond five years.
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A Lawyer Can Help with Your Mesothelioma Case
Patients are typically diagnosed with mesothelioma after they unknowingly had regular exposure to asbestos or other dangerous substances in the workplace. After working for years to provide for themselves and their families, these patients end up with a terminal disease that leaves them unfairly struggling with physical, emotional, and financial distress.
If you or a loved one were diagnosed with mesothelioma due to occupational exposure to asbestos, the attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm can help you seek financial compensation. Contact us today at (800) 794-0444 for a free case evaluation.