From its use in Greece during the first century, asbestos was known to have unhealthy side effects. Despite this, during the Industrial Revolution the asbestos industry boomed.
Factories and the burgeoning auto industry in the early 20th century relied heavily on the cheap, fire resistant fiber. Between 1940 and 1970, asbestos use peaked with an estimated 3,000 products made using the substance.
Despite an increasing number of sick and dying workers, manufacturers fought to be allowed to continue using the highly profitable substance.
Mesothelioma is the most common asbestos–related disease. More commonly known as asbestos cancer, the disease is caused by swallowing or inhaling asbestos particles which become imbedded in the mesothelium, a protective membrane that covers the internal organs of the body including the heart and lungs.
Types of Asbestos Cancer
There are three primary types of mesothelioma: pleural, pericardial and peritoneal.
- Pleural mesothelioma affects the pleura, the two-layered membrane surrounding the lungs and chest wall.
- Peritoneal mesothelioma is a malignant tumor that develops in the lining of the abdomen known as the peritoneum.
- Pericardial mesothelioma occurs when the particles of asbestos find their way into the blood stream and to the lining of the heart (called the pericardium). This is the rarest type of asbestos cancer affecting less than 10 percent of all mesothelioma victims.
Asbestos Cancer Symptoms
While each form of asbestos cancer has its own symptoms, there are a few general but persistent asbestos cancer symptoms
- A persistent cough that won’t go away no matter what medications you take.
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath caused by the inability of the lungs to expand properly.
- The accumulation of fluid in the lungs, chest or abdomen, also known as edema.
- Persistent pain in the stomach or chest.
- Weight loss caused by a lack of appetite and/or difficulty swallowing.
Other symptoms include a pronounced huskiness in the voice, an inability to sleep and weight loss.
For long periods (even decades) asbestos cancer can be symptomless, but once these symptoms begin to manifest, alone or in combination, and increase in intensity it is then that victims finally seek medical attention.
Individually these symptoms could be warning signs of a wide array of illnesses, but in concert they are the hallmarks of asbestos cancer.
Diagnosing Asbestos Cancer
Typically, doctors will order x-rays, MRIs or CAT scans – or a combination of these tests – to see what is causing the symptoms. If the results indicate cancer, further testing may include a biopsy.
From there, further testing will be done to assess what stage the asbestos cancer is in. Depending on the stage of the asbestos cancer, suggested treatment options may be curative (aimed at destroying the cancer), palliative (aimed at relieving pain) or a combination of both.
Bergman Draper Oslund Helps Asbestos Cancer Victims
If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, Bergman Draper Oslund can help. We represent only mesothelioma victims and have won more than $700 million in settlements for our clients. Contact us today for a free consultation to see how we can best help you.