Mesothelioma, a disease caused by asbestos exposure, generally affects the tissues lining the lungs. However, there are times when the disease spreads to the brain or other organs. The latter most commonly include the kidneys or liver. Not many mesothelioma patients experience a spread of the disease to the brain, but it does occur in approximately three percent of those diagnosed with the disease.
Asbestos was used for generations in construction. Due to its fire-retardant properties, asbestos was included in many products, ranging from clothing to haircare items. Some firefighter gear still contains asbestos. Today, it is found primarily in old buildings, which is why those doing construction or demolition work are the most vulnerable to the disease.
Asbestos becomes dangerous when it starts breaking down, as when asbestos building materials start flaking and crumbling. That is when people start breathing these fibers into their bodies, which may eventually result in mesothelioma. Although those who inhaled a great deal of asbestos during their careers or other form of exposure are the most likely to contract mesothelioma, there is no safe exposure level.
When mesothelioma spreads to the brain, it is known as a secondary brain tumor, as the original cancer was in the lungs. The cancer cells reach the brain via the circulatory system, which carries blood and lymphatic fluid to every part of the body. When the malignant cells enter the lymph nodes or blood vessels, they then have access to other organs.
It is not easy for spreading cancer cells to cross the blood/brain barrier. It is not possible for them to cross in the lymphatic system, but there is potential through the bloodstream. When they do make the breach, the cancer cells are more likely to create tumors in blood vessels, not brain tissue per se.
Because the brain is relatively far away from the lungs, other types of metastasis are more common in mesothelioma patients. Generally, the disease is more likely to spread to the chest wall than any other body part.
Patients diagnosed with mesothelioma should see their doctors immediately if they develop any of the following symptoms, which could indicate a brain metastasis:
Because brain metastasis is rare in mesothelioma patients, there is no need for a brain scan prior to developing symptoms. If you were diagnosed with mesothelioma, do not overly concern yourself with the possibilities of brain metastasis as 97 percent of such patients do not end up with the cancer spreading to their brain. Mesothelioma is a terrible disease, and the outcome for patients in which it has spread to the brain is not good. However, surgery for tumor removal followed by radiation therapy can buy the patient time, usually with good quality of life.
If you or your loved one’s mesothelioma has spread to the brain as a result of exposure to asbestos, you may be able to collect compensation for your claim. Contact the Philadelphia mesothelioma attorneys at Brookman, Rosenberg, Brown & Sandler today to learn more. Contact us online or call us at 215-569-4000 to set up a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey, including Delaware County, Chester County, and Philadelphia County.