Asbestosis and mesothelioma are illnesses associated with exposure to asbestos. Although debilitating, asbestosis is not a cancer and is not by itself a terminal condition, while mesothelioma is a rare cancer with a poor prognosis. Although asbestosis is not a cancer, asbestosis victims are at greater risk of developing mesothelioma or other cancers, due to their history of asbestos exposure. Both asbestosis and mesothelioma develop decades after exposure to inhalable asbestos fibers.
Asbestosis and Mesothelioma Symptoms
Asbestosis is characterized by shortness of breath, coughing or chest pain, and in some cases a finger deformity known as “clubbing.” (“Clubbed” fingers have broad, rounded tips.) Although asbestosis is not a cancer, asbestosis victims are at risk of developing lung cancer, and smoking increases this risk.
Mesothelioma can develop in the lungs (pleural mesothelioma) or abdomen (peritoneal mesothelioma.) Pleural mesothelioma is characterized by painful coughing and chest pain under the rib cage, shortness of breath, weight loss and lumps in the patient’s chest tissue. Peritoneal mesothelioma manifests as pain and swelling in the abdomen, abdominal lumps, and unexplained weight loss.
Asbestosis and Mesothelioma Causes
Tiny asbestos fibers are easily inhaled. Because of their unique structure, these fibers become lodged in the lungs and outer lining of the lungs, causing irritation. Over time, some patients develop cancerous conditions such as mesothelioma and lung cancer, while others develop fibrous masses, leading to thickening of lung tissue and difficulty breathing (asbestosis.) While asbestosis is generally the result of long-term asbestos exposure in the workplace, mesothelioma has been known to occur after minimal or even secondary exposure to asbestos fibers carried home on the clothing of a family member.
Asbestosis and Mesothelioma Treatments
Currently, there is no cure for asbestosis. If you have been diagnosed with asbestosis, your doctor may be able to make you more comfortable and improve your quality of life through treatment with prescription asthma inhalers and supplemental oxygen. Asbestosis may make you more likely to suffer complications from common respiratory illnesses such as pneumonia and influenza. If you suffer from asbestosis, your doctor may recommend an annual flu shot.
Conventional cancer treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery have proven largely unsuccessful for mesothelioma victims. Doctors often recommend a combination of all three. Because the five year survival rate for mesothelioma patients is between 5 and 10% depending upon the stage and type of cancer, doctors often recommend that patients seek treatment in clinical trials.
Help for Asbestosis and Mesothelioma Victims
Asbestos related diseases are currently experiencing and unprecedented spike, as thousands of people exposed during the mid-20th century construction boom are diagnosed. Although employers and asbestos product manufacturers knew of the dangers associated with exposure, they took little or no precautions to protect the public.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, Bergman Draper Oslund has decades of experience helping those who have been harmed by this toxic substance. In rare cases we will take an asbestosis claim. Contact us today for a no-cost, no obligation consultation.