Miners, construction workers, and others who come in contact with asbestos are at risk of developing a cancer called mesothelioma. It is estimated that about 2,500 people are diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma each year.
Asbestos refers to a group of naturally-occurring mineral fibers, including amosite, tremolite, and chrysotile. Because asbestos is resistant to heat, chemicals, and corrosion, it was widely used in various building materials. Many roof shingles, floor tiles, and ceilings still contain asbestos fibers.
Asbestos is present in the soil, air, and water. Nearly everyone encounters small amounts of asbestos. Undisturbed, intact materials that contain asbestos fibers are not harmful. When these materials are disturbed and fibers become airborne, they are dangerous.
As asbestos fibers spread through the air, they break into tiny particles that are too small to see with the naked eye. When a person breathes in these tiny particles, they settle in the lungs, and over time, cause inflammation and scarring. Some people also experience cellular changes that lead to mesothelioma.
With pleural mesothelioma, the cancer forms in the pleura, or the thin tissue membrane that lines the chest walls and covers the lungs. Mesothelioma refers to the mesothelium, the lining that lubricates internal organs.
The connection between asbestos and cancer was discovered in the 1950s. It was not until a decade later that mesothelioma, the most common form of asbestos-related cancer, was linked to asbestos exposure. Unlike some other forms of cancer, symptoms can take 30 to 50 years after asbestos exposure to develop.
While some people with pleural mesothelioma have early symptoms, they are often mistaken for less serious conditions. Because the timeline from exposure to diagnosis is so long, patients may not associate asbestos exposure early in life symptoms they develop years later.
Possible symptoms of pleural mesothelioma include:
If you were exposed to asbestos and have any of these symptoms, tell your doctor right away. While pleural mesothelioma currently has no cure, treatment can provide relief and extend one’s life.
Proper treatment differs from other cancers because it does not consist of a solid tumor. Instead, the disease spreads along the body’s blood vessels, nerves, and tissues. Chemotherapy and immunotherapy have been shown to slow cancer growth in some patients with pleural mesothelioma.
Some patients also benefit from surgery to remove some or all of the pleura, and in some cases, the diseased lung. Clinical trials also offer some promise for effective mesothelioma treatment. Contact your health care provider to find out if you may be a candidate for therapies still in development.
Fortunately, we now fully understand the risks of prolonged asbestos exposure. In the late 1970s, the EPA began regulating the use of items containing asbestos. Yet, many vehicles and buildings made before the 1980s still contain asbestos. Anyone living or working around materials that may contain asbestos should hire a professional asbestos removal company.
Employers and workers can take steps to protect themselves when working around asbestos. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has established standards for maintaining a safe work site to reduce the risk to workers. Employers should provide safety training, protective equipment, and protocols to safely label, store, and handle materials that contain asbestos.
While we are aware of the link between asbestos and pleural mesothelioma now, many older Americans are living with complications caused by exposure that occurred several decades ago. A cancer diagnosis means physical challenges, medical costs, and possibly the inability to work or perform daily tasks. If you have pleural mesothelioma, you should know that you are not alone and help is available.
It is not too late to take legal action if you have been diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma. Even if you were exposed to asbestos decades ago, you can still pursue compensation for economic and noneconomic losses due to cancer. There are several legal options for individuals diagnosed with asbestos cancers.
The two primary legal routes to pursue compensation are mesothelioma lawsuits and asbestos trust fund claims.
Pleural mesothelioma lawsuits recover financial compensation from negligent asbestos product manufacturers. Under the litigation umbrella, there are a few types of lawsuits that might apply to your situation:
As many asbestos companies went bankrupt, they were ordered to establish trust funds to compensate cancer patients and their families. At this time, an estimated $30 billion sits in trusts funds for people with mesothelioma.
An incurable disease has an impact on every aspect of one’s life: emotionally, physically, and financially. Because pleural mesothelioma is so rare, treatments are quite specific and often expensive.
Compensation can be used to pay for medical treatments, medications, lost wages, and funeral costs for those who pass away. While a settlement or award from a lawsuits cannot change a pleural mesothelioma diagnosis, it can give you peace of mind knowing your expenses are covered and you can afford the treatment you need.
If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you may have legal options. Speak with one of our Philadelphia mesothelioma attorneys at Brookman, Rosenberg, Brown & Sandler. Our legal team advocates for clients living with serious health conditions due to asbestos exposure, and we will protect your rights. Call us at 215-569-4000 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, we represent clients throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania, including Delaware County, Chester County, and Philadelphia County.