While symptoms of mesothelioma may not appear until long after your exposure to asbestos particles, once symptoms develop, mesothelioma is not a slow-growing cancer. Instead, it is fast-growing, aggressive, and typically fatal.
Mesothelioma almost always results from exposure to asbestos. The inhalation of asbestos fibers allows these particles to lodge in tissues surrounding the heart, abdomen, lungs, and even the testes. The thin layer of tissue that covers these organs is called mesothelium. These cells create a protective lining within the body so that organs can easily expand and contract against each other.
The Mayo Clinic describes four types of mesothelioma that you can develop:
- Pleural: This type affects the tissue surrounding the lungs.
- Peritoneal: The peritoneum covers all the organs in the abdomen.
- Pericardial: The pericardium is the membrane that surrounds the heart and the blood vessels that feed into it.
- Tunica vaginalis: This type affects the tissue that surrounds the testes.
Asbestos and Mesothelioma
Asbestos is a mineral found in the earth that contains microscopic fibers. When these fibers settle into the lungs (or any tissue throughout the body) through inhalation or swallowing, they irritate the cells. The effects of this irritation may lie dormant for many years; in fact, most mesothelioma cases do not develop until several decades after exposure.
Research shows that these asbestos fibers can scar and inflame cells, although the genetic mutations leading to mesothelioma are still unknown. However, research published by the National Academy of Sciences describes a process called “programmed cell necrosis” when asbestos particles kill a cell. The article explains how this process releases a specific protein that brings about an inflammatory reaction, resulting in the production and growth of cancerous cells.
Once this process begins, the mesothelioma cancer spreads aggressively and quickly, which is why while asbestos symptoms may sit dormant for years, mesothelioma is not a slow-growing cancer.
For a free legal consultation, call (800) 794-0444
Types of Mesothelioma
While most mesothelioma is malignant, it is important to note that there are some cases of benign mesothelioma. You should seek immediate medical evaluation to confirm the diagnosis and begin receiving proper treatment if you suspect that you may have developed mesothelioma due to your exposure to asbestos.
According to the American Cancer Society, more than 75% of all mesotheliomas are pleural and occur in the lungs or the lining of the lungs.
Symptoms of Mesothelioma
Because mesothelioma occurs in different areas of the body, a person developing mesothelioma will have different types of symptoms. For example, if a person develops mesothelioma in their lungs, they may experience coughing, chest pain, shortness of breath, weight loss, or lumps of tissue underneath their skin.
If a person develops mesothelioma in the lining of the peritoneum, they may have abdominal pain, swelling, nausea, or weight loss. Pericardial mesothelioma can also cause breathing problems or chest pain, while with the rare cases of tunica vaginalis mesothelioma, a person may develop swelling or a mass on the testicle.
Treatments for Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma patients can receive four types of treatment:
- Radiation therapy
- Targeted therapy
Doctors use any of these treatments with all four mesothelioma types, and multiple treatments are often combined for mesothelioma patients.
Several types of targeted therapies, such as antibody therapies and kinase inhibitors, prevent signals that cancer cells need to spread throughout the body. Biologic therapy, or immunotherapy, uses the patient’s own immune system to boost, direct, or restore their natural defenses against mesothelioma or other cancers.
Because mesothelioma is not a slow-growing cancer, doctors typically move very quickly to attempt to slow the progress of this aggressive cancer.
Complete a Free Case Evaluation form now
According to the American Cancer Society, the five-year survival rate for mesothelioma is 20% for those patients who catch their mesothelioma early, while it is still localized to its original site. This figure means that for those patients who find mesothelioma in the earliest stages, they are 20% as likely to live for at least five years after receiving their diagnosis as someone of the same age who has not been diagnosed with mesothelioma.
Once mesothelioma has progressed and doctors discover it at the regional stage, when it has spread to nearby lymph nodes or parts of the body, the five-year survival rate drops to 12%. If caught at the distant stage, when it has spread throughout the body, the rate will fall even further to 8%.
Consider How a Mesothelioma Attorney Can Help
You may have the legal right to pursue compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages if you or your loved one received a diagnosis of mesothelioma. You might want to visit with our legal team at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm to gain an understanding of your legal rights. Call us now at (800) 794-0444 to learn how a mesothelioma attorney can help you fight for the compensation you may be entitled to receive.