Mesothelioma is a deadly form of cancer that is caused by exposure to microscopic asbestos fibers. Asbestos is a fire- and friction-resistant substance that was commonly used in brake pads and many building materials. Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral, and it only becomes dangerous when it is inhaled or ingested.
There is no known cure for mesothelioma, but patients are living longer as medical treatments continue to improve. Part of the reason there is no known cure for mesothelioma is that it can take decades for the disease to reveal itself. The often decades-long delay between exposure and the onset of mesothelioma makes it much more difficult to manage and diagnose.
Mesothelioma is a respiratory disease that can affect the lungs, abdomen, and other parts of the body. It happens after microscopic asbestos fibers penetrate the inner lining of your lings and become a constant irritation to the lungs. As the condition worsens, the lining of the lungs becomes stiff and brittle, which makes it much harder to breathe and take in oxygen. It eventually progresses and becomes cancerous and deadly.
There are four types of mesothelioma. Pleural mesothelioma is the most common type, it is the most prolific killer because it affects the lungs. If you are exposed to asbestos and breathe in its microscopic fibers, those fibers embed themselves into the lining of your lungs.
Another type of mesothelioma is peritoneal mesothelioma, which affects the abdominal lining. It is the second most diagnosed type of mesothelioma after pleural mesothelioma. Two much rarer types also occur. One is testicular mesothelioma, which affects the testes, and the other is pericardial mesothelioma, which affects the heart sac.
Since mesothelioma takes so long to manifest, you might not recognize the symptoms until it has already become advanced. If you have reason to believe you might have been exposed to asbestos years ago and you are experiencing lingering health issues, you might be feeling the early effects of pleural mesothelioma.
The following are the most commonly encountered symptoms of pleural mesothelioma. If asbestos exposure caused them, then a trip to the doctor is needed right away to obtain a proper diagnosis. An imaging scan or similar diagnostic procedure might be required to make an accurate diagnosis of your condition.
When asbestos fibers embed themselves into the lining of your lungs, the lung tissue becomes irritated. The irritation could cause tumors to form and within the pleural lining that contains small pockets of fluid. Those tumors force the fluid into smaller spaces, which restricts your lungs’ ability to take in oxygen. Medical doctors call this pleural effusions.
When tumors force fluid out of the pleural pockets, pleural effusions form, and they are the first sign of mesothelioma in about 60 percent of all cases. Doctors can detect pleural effusions with X-rays and CT scans. When it is done relatively early during the disease’s progression, you stand a better chance of managing the condition.
Pleural effusions eventually lead to pleural thickening, which happens when the pleural tissue develops scar tissue caused by asbestos fibers that penetrate the lining of mesothelial cells. Pleural thickening is found in almost 90 percent of all mesothelioma patients. X-rays and CT scans can detect pleural thickening.
Most people with pleural mesothelioma do not notice any symptoms until they feel chest pain. Unfortunately, chest pain could be caused by a wide range of conditions, which further hides the development of pleural mesothelioma. Only diagnostic X-rays or CT scans can identify pleural mesothelioma as the cause of the chest pain you are experiencing. The chest pain is caused by the pressure against the wall of your chest as more tumors and fluid pockets develop due to mesothelioma.
As the pleural thickening worsens and you feel more chest pain, you also might notice that you have shortness of breath. That is because your lungs cannot expand like they did when they were healthy, and they are taking in less oxygen as a result. As more tumors form, the shortness of breath becomes more pronounced. About half of all mesothelioma cases involve shortness of breath among the identified symptoms.
There is more than one kind of mesothelioma, and asbestos exposure is the main cause of the disease. That is why asbestos is banned in new construction and was pulled out of public schools and other public buildings decades ago. Many private homes and similar properties still contain some asbestos within floor tiles, pipe and wall insulation, and other construction materials.
Prior to federal and state bans on asbestos use in construction, asbestos was widely used. Asbestos was used in materials to build walls and textured coverings. Many people inhaled asbestos when it flaked off of ceilings and walls. Construction workers were especially prone to suffering asbestos exposure.
The greater Philadelphia area has many buildings that were built with asbestos when it was commonly used in building materials. Fire always has been a primary concern in large cities across the nation, especially when wood was the main construction material that was used. As a result, asbestos was viewed as essential because it helped protect cities from fires.
If you are diagnosed with any type of mesothelioma, you could have a liability case against one or more potential defendants. The long interval between asbestos exposure and the diagnosis of the cancerous disease can make it difficult to identify one or more liable parties.
If the exposure occurred as part of a job that you performed decades ago, the company that employed you might be out of business and its former owners deceased. If a product containing asbestos caused the exposure, it might be difficult to identify the manufacturer or distributor. The records and determining factors become much more clouded over time, and that can make a claim for asbestos exposure very difficult to prosecute, but it is not impossible. An experienced lawyer can help you build the strongest case that is possible.
If you or someone you know is experiencing any signs of pleural mesothelioma, an early diagnosis is critical. Once diagnosed, you can start the legal process for holding accountable parties liable for damages and costs. Hiring a knowledgeable lawyer is your best bet for recouping losses.
Our Philadelphia mesothelioma lawyers at Brookman, Rosenberg, Brown & Sandler can help you build a case if asbestos exposure caused your pleural mesothelioma diagnosis. Call us at 215-569-4000 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation and to learn more about how we can help you. We are located in Philadelphia, and we serve clients throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania, including Delaware County, Chester County, and Philadelphia County.