Mesothelioma cancer affects your body’s mesothelial cells. Most commonly, these malignancies grow in the lining of your chest cavity and lungs, called the pleura. Doctors refer to this type of mesothelioma as malignant pleural mesothelioma, which makes up most types of mesothelial cancer.
Asbestos Exposure Causes Mesothelioma Cancer
People develop pleural mesothelioma as a result of asbestos exposure. They breathe in asbestos fibers, usually at work, and these fibers accumulate deep inside their lungs, eventually making their way to a person’s pleura. Over time, these fibers damage the lung tissue, and this triggers changes in the cells. While any type of asbestos fiber can cause mesothelioma, the amphibole type increases the risk of this type of cancer with less exposure.
People who worked in certain occupations before the 1970s and 1980s classify as much more likely to develop mesothelioma than others. Some occupations that increase the risk of asbestos exposure may include:
- Construction and demolition workers
- Shipbuilders and repairmen
- Employees of asbestos manufacturers
- Auto mechanics
- Aircraft mechanics
- HVAC technicians
Pleural mesothelioma takes years to develop, but then it grows quickly. It often takes 20 to 30 years between the time a person is first exposed to asbestos and the time they receive a mesothelioma diagnosis. Many people develop other asbestos-related conditions, such as asbestosis, first.
Mesothelioma Affects the Lining of Organs and Body Areas
Almost all malignant mesotheliomas occur in the lining of the lungs or chest cavity. Pleural mesothelioma accounts for eight out of every ten cases diagnosed in the United States. Peritoneal mesothelioma accounts for an additional one-fifth of all mesothelioma diagnoses. Other areas of the body combined makeup only a small fraction of cases.
Pleural mesothelioma generally begins with one small spot on the chest wall or outside of the lungs. Unlike lung cancer, mesothelioma does not grow inside the lung tissue itself. Instead, it spreads on the outside of the organs where the pleura lies.
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Diagnosis and Progression of Mesothelioma Cancer
While it can take decades to develop, pleural mesothelioma tumors spread rapidly throughout the chest cavity. They rarely spread beyond the chest and upper torso but may affect the chest wall, diaphragm, both lungs, and more before symptoms appear.
While some people develop unexplained chest pain, painful breathing, or shortness of breath, this type of cancer often presents with a sudden and severe difficulty breathing. This occurs as a result of pleural effusion, an accumulation of fluid inside the pleural space.
In diagnosing the pleural effusion, medical imaging such as X-rays or a computerized tomography (CT) scan allows the doctor to see the tumor. A biopsy generally confirms the diagnosis. Treatments may help to:
- Manage pain
- Make it easier to breathe
- Extend the time remaining
- Improve the quality of life
Doctors often select chemotherapy treatment for mesothelioma, although it cannot cure a patient. Once pleural effusion occurs and symptoms appear, most people do not live for more than one or two years.
A Mesothelioma Diagnosis May Support an Asbestos Mass Tort Case
You may be able to file a claim or lawsuit to recover compensation from one of the asbestos trust funds created after many asbestos companies filed for bankruptcy. With the right evidence and a compelling argument tying your cancer to asbestos exposure, you could receive an award that covers some or all of your related expenses and losses.
An Attorney May Be Able to Help
Many people choose to work with an asbestos mass tort attorney on this type of case. Navigating the process to claim compensation may be stressful and complex, and having a lawyer on your side will allow you to spend your time fighting your mesothelioma cancer and enjoying time with your family.
Talk to Pintas & Mullins Law Firm for Help
The asbestos cancer team at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm can evaluate your case for free. We may be able to help you understand the merits of your case and what it will take to prove you qualify for an award. We take on even the toughest cases and work on a contingency-fee-basis, so you pay nothing upfront and nothing unless we secure awards in your favor.
Call us today at (800) 794-0444 for your free case review and consultation.