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) 794-0444 to schedule a free consultation and determine if you have a case.