Asbestos is not the only cause of mesothelioma. However, exposure to it is the primary risk factor in about 80% of cases, according to the American Cancer Society. Mesothelioma patients might have been exposed to high levels of asbestos at work, but there have been incidents stemming from second-hand exposure, too. People living with asbestos-exposed workers also have an increased risk of mesothelioma.
Contrary to popular belief, asbestos is not the sole culprit behind the fatal condition. In rare cases, patients who had no known contact with the mineral still developed mesothelioma.
Other Possible Causes of Mesothelioma
Many people who think asbestos is the only cause of mesothelioma are unaware of the following ways you could end up with the disease:
Zeolite is a natural mineral with a similar chemical composition to asbestos. Erionite is one, and it is abundant in some parts of Turkey with high cases of mesothelioma. Prolonged exposure to it may have caused an unusual number of incidents in those areas, and some areas in the U.S., according to the American Cancer Society.
Exposure to high doses of radiation also puts you at risk for mesothelioma. There were reported incidents of cancer patients developing the disease after receiving radiation treatment to the chest or abdomen.
Genetics can also put you at risk for mesothelioma. The mutation of gene BAP1 is linked to the development of mesothelioma and is hereditary. You may be one of the few who are genetically predisposed to the disease.
How Asbestos Exposure Leads to Mesothelioma
Most incidences of mesothelioma stem from prolonged exposure to asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral. Before its restricted use in the U.S., asbestos was mined and utilized in large industries, including construction, shipbuilding, and automotive. It is durable, can resist fire, heat, and chemicals, and does not conduct electricity.
The only problem with asbestos is its microscopic fibers, and they only cause harm when the asbestos is destroyed or otherwise tampered with, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). When released into the air, they are easily inhaled or swallowed. Once they settle in the lining of the lungs or stomach, they irritate and cause inflammation or scarring that may result in mesothelioma. Other long-term asbestos-related problems include asbestosis—the scarring of lung tissue—and lung cancer.
Apart from prolonged exposure, your inherited conditions, environment, and overall health are other factors that increase the risk of developing mesothelioma.
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The Symptoms of Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma takes time to develop—about 20 to 50 years after initial asbestos exposure. By the time most patients get diagnosed, it has already progressed to an advanced stage, at which point, the prognosis is grim.
Symptoms of mesothelioma in the lungs, also known as pleural mesothelioma, according to Mayo Clinic, include chest pain, shortness of breath, persistent, painful coughing, and unusual lumps around the chest area. If the cancer cells have spread to other areas, there will be swelling of the face, neck, or arms or difficulties in swallowing.
With peritoneal mesothelioma or the type that occurs in the abdomen, you’ll notice pain and swelling around the abdominal area. A common warning sign of both is sudden and unexplainable weight loss, and it is often mistaken for other diseases or types of cancer. Visit your doctor if you experience these symptoms and have been exposed to asbestos.
What You Should Do When You Had Previous Asbestos Exposure
When you had prolonged exposure to asbestos because of work or living arrangements, it might have severe long-term health effects, including mesothelioma. However, keep in mind that other uncontrollable factors also increase your vulnerability for such a highly fatal disease, even without prior exposure to the mineral.
If you believe that you or your loved one’s mesothelioma was due to third-party negligence on controlling asbestos exposure, know that you could be entitled to financial compensation. You might be able to recover a financial award for costs related to your disease, including:
- Hospital bills
- Treatment costs
- Prescription costs
- Transportation costs
- Lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of consortium
- Funeral and burial expenses (in wrongful death cases)
This is not an exhaustive list of all the compensation you could be entitled to. A lawyer can give you an estimate of what you could recover.
Learn more about your options for settlement when you consult a lawyer from Pintas & Mullins Law Firm. For over 30 years, they have provided legal advice and representation to victims of personal injury and wrongful death. Get in touch with a member of our team at (800) 794-0444.