Every year about 3,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, a cancer that most commonly attacks the lungs and abdomen. Mesothelioma is exclusively linked to asbestos exposure. Of all the cases diagnosed, 70-80% are caused by asbestos exposure at work. These asbestos-related diseases are considered 100% preventable.
Typically it takes long term exposure to asbestos to cause mesothelioma to develop. It is important to note both short-term and one-time exposure to asbestos can also cause mesothelioma. When asbestos fibers are inhaled, they become lodged in the lining of the lungs. The fibers damage cells causing inflammation and scarring resulting in tumors. Symptoms of mesothelioma can take 20-50 years to develop after exposure to asbestos therefore delaying an early diagnosis.
In most cases, the early symptoms of mesothelioma are so mild few people recognize them. The early signs tend to be fatigue and light pain surrounding the area of the tumor. Later stage symptoms are usually more noticeable including shortness of breath, chronic pain in the area of the tumor, weight loss, fluid buildup, and bowel obstruction.
The two most important factors for an accurate diagnosis of mesothelioma are imaging scans and a biopsy. The first imaging scan is typically an X-Ray of the area followed by a PET scan, CT scan or MRI to follow up on unusual findings on the X-Ray. If the scans indicate cancer then a biopsy of the area is done to confirm the diagnosis. Blood tests are being developed to aid in early diagnosis of mesothelioma in those known to have exposure to asbestos.
Diagnosis of mesothelioma includes tests used for staging this disease. Staging is the standard for doctors to convey to patients to severity of the cancer. Staging of mesothelioma determines how advanced the cancer is, the prevalence of tumors and how far the cancer has spread.
There are three common types of mesothelioma. Pleural mesothelioma is the most common type. Seventy-five percent of cases are pleural which is the cancer forming in the lining of the lungs. Peritoneal mesothelioma cancer accounts for 10-20% of cases. This type of cancer forms in the lining of the abdominal cavity. Cases have shown the best course of action in these cases is surgery and heated chemotherapy. Pericardial mesothelioma emerges from the lining of the heart and accounts for one percent of cases. This is the most challenging form of mesothelioma cancers to treat due to the location of the tumor. There are several less common forms of mesothelioma including testicular mesothelioma.
Treatment options for mesothelioma can include surgery to remove the tumor, chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Doctors often prescribe multimodal therapy which is any combination of the three treatments listed.
There is no known cure for mesothelioma cancer. Each patient’s prognosis will depend on a number of factors: stage of the cancer, type of mesothelioma, the tumor cell type along with the size and location, patient’s overall health, gender, progression of symptoms, and the patient’s blood characteristics.
To learn more about asbestos exposure and mesothelioma cancer, contact our team of Philadelphia asbestos lawyers.We keep current with the latest medical technologies and advances for mesothelioma patients. The Philadelphia mesothelioma attorneys at Brookman, Rosenberg, Brown & Sandler are dedicated to obtaining fair compensation to help ease your suffering and cover your medical bills. We work tirelessly to fight for those with asbestos-related illnesses.
Call our firm at 215-569-4000 or contact us online to review the details of your case. We are located in Center City Philadelphia and we serve clients in Pennsylvania and New Jersey including Philadelphia County, Chester County and Delaware County.