According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 3,000 people in the United States receive a mesothelioma diagnosis each year. Of the numerous types of cancer, mesothelioma is rare but also aggressive and deadly. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirms that the annual number of malignant mesothelioma deaths is increasing.
Mesothelioma can affect the lungs, abdomen, heart, or reproductive organs. Abdominal mesothelioma, which develops in the abdominal lining—also known as the
peritoneum—is the second-most common type of the disease. In the vast majority of cases, asbestos exposure causes abdominal mesothelioma, as well as all kinds of mesothelioma.
Abdominal Mesothelioma and Asbestos Exposure
Asbestos is a group of naturally occurring minerals composed of soft, flexible fibers that are heat-resistant. Asbestos was widely used throughout much of the 20th century in a broad range of applications from consumer products to construction. Studies first demonstrated the health hazard of asbestos in the early 1900s. Nevertheless, its use by manufacturers, builders, refineries, factories, and other entities continued for several decades.
In 1980, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) finally issued an official warning about the danger of asbestos exposure and its direct link to serious illnesses, including mesothelioma. Asbestos use has significantly declined, but it still remains in various products and buildings to this day.
Echoing NIOSH, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act, requiring local agencies to inspect school buildings for asbestos materials and prevent or reduce asbestos hazards. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services concurred that any kind of asbestos can contribute to serious health issues, including asbestosis, mesothelioma, and lung cancer.
People who worked in asbestos mines are at the highest risk of developing mesothelioma, as well as those who worked in factories or construction and handled materials made with asbestos. Individuals who live or have lived near asbestos mines or in homes made with asbestos are also at high risk.
How Abdominal Mesothelioma Develops
Untouched in nature, asbestos deposits are not a threat to humans. However, when mined and used in products and construction, they can be extremely dangerous. This is because asbestos consists of long, fibrous crystals that can become airborne when they break off from their point of origin. When a person inhales or ingests these crystals, the fibers may get stuck in the lining of the throat, windpipe, or bronchi.
If the person inhaled or ingested a small amount, they may be able to dislodge the fibers by coughing or swallowing. However, with repeat or extended exposure, a person is likely to accumulate too many fibers for the body to eliminate. The fibers can travel via the digestive or lymphatic systems to the abdomen or lungs, where they may be implanted in the mesothelium, the protective lining surrounding organs such as the lungs. The fibers irritate the tissue and eventually damage the cells and DNA, creating an environment in which cancerous cells can develop.
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Abdominal Mesothelioma Symptoms & Prognosis
Abdominal mesothelioma, like all types of mesothelioma, is often fatal. Successful eradication can be particularly challenging because many people do not realize they have the disease until it is in its advanced stages. The average prognosis for an abdominal mesothelioma diagnosis is six to 12 months.
Early detection can increase your chances of successful treatment and survival. If you have been exposed to asbestos, consider asking your doctor for a test. They may administer an X-ray, CT scan, ultrasound, MRI, PET, or blood test to detect a tumor or cell abnormalities. These assessments may detect abdominal mesothelioma before you experience any symptoms.
You should also closely monitor your health. Symptoms of abdominal mesothelioma can include:
- Abdominal pain and swelling
- Unexplained weight loss
- Gastrointestinal issues
- Abnormal lumps in the abdomen
Contact a Mesothelioma Lawyer for Help
A cancer diagnosis can be life-changing. You may feel overwhelmed, stressed, and depressed, uncertain about what the future holds for you and your family and how long you will have left with them. In addition to the physical and psychological toll of an abdominal mesothelioma diagnosis, you may be concerned about finances as you face mounting bills for chemotherapy, surgery, and other treatments. If you are unable to work due to your illness, lost or reduced income may add to the financial strain.
You may want to consider contacting a mesothelioma lawyer. While no amount of money can replace your health, financial compensation can help you pay off medical bills, avoid debt, and maintain financial stability for yourself and your family so you can focus on fighting the disease. While not everyone who is exposed to asbestos has grounds for a personal injury lawsuit, there are many who do, particularly with a mesothelioma diagnosis. If you believe asbestos exposure was the cause of your abdominal mesothelioma, Pintas & Mullins Law Firm can help. Contact us today at (800) 307-3113 to schedule a free consultation and determine if you have a case.
The American Society of Clinical Oncology notes that eight in ten cases of abdominal mesothelioma are caused by exposure to asbestos. Asbestos particles, when swallowed, can travel through the intestines and cause scarring. The damage can eventually allow asbestos particles to cause DNA mutations in a person’s intestines, resulting in the rapid development of new cells and tumors.
Other causes of abdominal mesothelioma besides asbestos exposure may include:
- Swallowing zeolite particles
- Radiation exposure
- Contraction of SV40
- Genetic DNA mutations
While you cannot pursue a lawsuit regarding an abdominal mesothelioma case if you contracted it due to genetics, you can still speak with a medical professional and legal representative in your area to understand why your condition may have developed and what steps you can take to respond to it.
The Many Sources of Asbestos
Medical professionals identify asbestos exposure as the primary cause of abdominal mesothelioma. Asbestos and asbestos-related products are most often used in:
- Electrical wiring
- Store-bought soil
Asbestos or asbestos-related products may also be present in a car or a commercial vehicle’s parts.
It is not illegal to use asbestos-containing materials on private property. Private property owners were given the right to continue using asbestos products. Even though the public has been made aware of the dangers of asbestos for decades, continued use of its products in buildings that could benefit from updated interiors may still result in a lawsuit.
What Are the Symptoms of Abdominal Mesothelioma?
Exposure to asbestos can cause scarring in your abdomen and lungs that leads to various symptoms. If you believe you have been exposed to asbestos or any of the other causes of abdominal mesothelioma, you may want to check to see if you are having any of the following symptoms, according to the American Cancer Society:
- Abdominal pain
- Abdominal swelling
- Night sweats
- Lack of appetite
You may also have loose stools or constipation. If you find yourself suffering from any of the above symptoms, and you have recently been in a space where you believe asbestos or similar materials are in use, you should seek the advice of a medical professional as soon as possible.
Taking Legal Action After an Abdominal Mesothelioma Diagnosis
If you believe that you or a loved one is suffering from abdominal mesothelioma as a result of exposure to asbestos, or that conditions relating to an abdominal mesothelioma diagnosis have worsened as a result of lack of medical attention, you may be able to take legal action against the liable parties. The team at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm can help you find a place to start. Call (800) 307-3113 today for a free consultation.