Mesothelioma is a cancer that can spread quickly. But it may take many years, or even decades, before a person experiences any symptoms. The Mayo Clinic confirms that mesothelioma may not metastasize until 20 to 60 years after asbestos exposure. A person may not see, feel, or be aware of any type of cancer symptoms until it has already advanced significantly.
According to an Upstate Medical University study, most people who go without treatment for malignant mesothelioma will not survive past four to six months. Those who do get treatment can survive 15 to 18 months. Because mesothelioma spreads quickly, it might be important to act soon if you believe work-related exposure to asbestos caused you or a loved one’s mesothelioma.
The Link Between Asbestos and Mesothelioma
The most significant risk factor for mesothelioma is asbestos exposure.
A person can breathe in asbestos particles when they use products containing asbestos, such as dust from home insulation products. This asbestos dust can move inside a person and, over time, may eventually grow into cancerous cells.
Most people won’t even know that cancer is growing inside of them. Mesothelioma may take years to develop after the initial asbestos exposure.
Long Latency Period Delays Mesothelioma Symptoms
The length of time from exposure to when symptoms begin is called the latency period. Mesothelioma has an exceptionally long latency period, averaging about 20 to 60 years from when the asbestos exposure first took place.
Factors like the age of the victim, how long the person was exposed to asbestos, and other criteria influence when the symptoms of mesothelioma first arise.
Unfortunately, there is no way to know if someone has mesothelioma before it metastasizes into cancer. There are no early detection tests for mesothelioma.
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Main Types of Mesothelioma
There are two main types of mesothelioma—pleural mesothelioma, which attacks the chest area and the tissue lining around the lungs, and peritoneal mesothelioma, which affects tissue lining in the abdomen.
Pleural mesothelioma is the most diagnosed type of mesothelioma. According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms often include:
- Chest pain
- Breathing issues
- Weight loss
- Tissue lumps under the skin
Symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma can include pain and swelling in the abdomen, nausea, and weight loss.
Other less common types of mesothelioma can affect the heart and testicles.
The Stages of Mesothelioma
According to the American Cancer Society, the stages of cancer growth in the patient determine the metastasis of the mesothelioma—in other words, how quickly the mesothelioma spreads and where it spreads to in the body. This is described in stages I, II, III, and IV. Each stage is more serious. There are more treatment options available to patients in either stage I or stage II than there are in stages III or IV.
Medical professionals take tests during each stage, involving the use of biopsies and X-rays, to see how far along the mesothelioma has spread. Doctors use the results of these tests to determine the most appropriate treatments for the patient.
In this early stage, the mesothelioma is in its smallest local area—the chest wall—with no spread yet toward the lymph nodes. Stage I can also include mesothelioma in the diaphragm. Patients have multiple treatment options at this stage.
In the next stage, mesothelioma is located on one side of a person’s body and has also invaded the person’s nearby lymph nodes. A person diagnosed in this stage should seek treatment options quickly. The tumor may still be removed, depending on the particular case.
This is the stage in which mesothelioma starts to show signs of metastasis and is spreading into a person’s lymph nodes and other organs in the body. The person usually starts to see and feel symptoms, and treatment options become fewer. In the more advanced stage III, stage IIIB, the mesothelioma can no longer be completely removed with surgery.
The final stage of cancer shows that the mesothelioma has spread to the person’s other side of the body. Treatment during this stage usually seeks to minimize the painful symptoms.
Seeking Compensation for a Mesothelioma Claim
If you worked for a company that made products that contained asbestos, you may be eligible to participate in a claim to seek financial compensation. A law firm may be able to help support you in a claim against the company, and you may receive compensation for any financial losses incurred from mesothelioma.
Contact Pintas & Mullins Law Firm at (800) 794-0444 today if you were diagnosed with mesothelioma. We will try to help find evidence to support a claim that your cancer originated as a result of asbestos exposure. With this information, you could be eligible to receive a cash settlement for your wage losses, hospital expenses, and pain and suffering. You pay nothing out of pocket and nothing up front—we only take a fee if we secure a settlement in your favor.