What is Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is a rare cancer of the organ lining, most often linked to asbestos exposure. Although mesothelioma typically occurs in the outer lining of the lungs (pleura), it can also form in the lining of abdominal cavity, in the tissue surrounding the heart, or in the testicular lining.
Lung Mesothelioma Symptoms
Mesothelioma in the pleura (lining of the lungs) is characterized by chest wall pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, anemia, wheezing or coughing, fluid surrounding the lung, and blood in the sputum (blood produced when coughing.) If you suffer from these symptoms, see a doctor immediately. Discuss any history of possible exposure to asbestos.
Lung Mesothelioma Diagnosis
If your doctor suspects mesothelioma, you should undergo a thorough medical examination, including lung function tests. Based on the results of these tests and a history of asbestos exposure, your doctor may order a chest x-ray and CT scan. In order to confirm mesothelioma, you may need to undergo a lung biopsy.
A biopsy is a procedure in which a doctor takes a tissue sample for later examination under a microscope. In cases where mesothelioma is suspected, the biopsy is an invasive procedure called a thoracoscopy, in which a doctor makes a small incision in the chest and inserts a thin, lighted tube. This procedure is typically performed under anesthesia.
Lung Mesothelioma Prognosis and Treatment
Unfortunately, traditional cancer treatments such as surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy have not proved tremendously successful in the treatment of mesothelioma. Some limited success has been achieved by combining a radical surgery called a pleurectomy, involving the removal of the lining of the lung, with a course of chemotherapy and radiation. In some cases, patients may undergo less extreme surgeries as a means of relieving symptoms.
As with other cancers, your prognosis will depend upon the specific cancer subtype, and your stage at diagnosis. Unfortunately, pleural (lung) mesothelioma often goes undetected until late stage disease has developed. The five year survival rate for pleural mesothelioma patients is approximately 8%.
After Lung Mesothelioma Diagnosis: Now What?
Mesothelioma is almost always linked to a history of asbestos exposure. Mesothelioma may develop at any time from 20 to 50 years following exposure. Due to its widespread use in construction materials, anyone living in an older home or working in an older building prior to the late 1980s may have been exposed to airborne asbestos particles.
If you or your loved one worked in construction, ship building, manufacturing, motor vehicle repair, metal production, or another heavy industry, asbestos exposure may have occurred in the workplace, over a period of many years. Although the link between mesothelioma and asbestos was well understood by the mid 20th century, employers continued to utilize asbestos extensively with few or no safety precautions, for decades. The legal system has held employers and asbestos product manufacturers liable for negligently exposing countless victims to toxic asbestos fibers.
If you or your loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you may be eligible for compensation. Don’t allow mounting medical bills to cause you undue stress, while you fight this deadly disease. Call an experienced asbestos litigation firm today, to discuss your options. With decades of experience serving mesothelioma victims like you, Bergman Draper Oslund is here to help. Contact us today to schedule a no-cost, no-obligation consultation.