A diagnosis of mesothelioma is usually considered a death sentence. The disease affects the cells of the tissue lining in the abdomen known as the mesothelium. Modern medical science has not developed a cure for mesothelioma, and most victims die from it within a few months of the diagnosis. Most people who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma are curious about they contracted this vicious disease. The answer usually depends upon one question: where did the victim work?
The cause of mesothelioma
Mesothelioma is a form of cancer that is usually found in the tissues lining the abdomen. It results from a disordering of the genetic instructions found in the cells that comprise the mesothelium. While the exact cause of any form of cancer can be difficult to explain, modern medical science has determined that mesothelioma results when the victim inhales asbestos fibers. This exposure usually occurs in the workplace, and some workplaces are more likely to expose workers to asbestos fibers than others.
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that was widely used as fireproofing and a strengthening material in plaster walls before and during World War II. After the war, physicians noticed an increase in the number of asbestos cases. In studying the disease, physicians learned that exposure to asbestos fibers was a leading cause of mesothelioma. In order to be used for its supposedly beneficial purposes, asbestos must be broken up into its constituent fibers, and this dismembering of the mineral creates a fine dust that is easily inhaled. When asbestos fibers are inhaled, they lodge in the tissues of the lung, mostly in the mesothelium. The disease itself can lie dormant for many years before it results in an active case of mesothelioma.
Where is asbestos exposure the highest?
Asbestos must be mined, and these mines carry the greatest risk of asbestos exposure. The next greatest risk are those workers who must handle asbestos fibers, such as shipyard workers, brake mechanics, plumbers, pipe fitters and insulators. Anyone who has worked for several years in one of these locations may be very likely to inhale asbestos fibers and then develop diagnosable symptoms of mesothelioma.
Anyone who exhibits the symptoms associated with mesothelioma – difficulty breathing, chest pain, difficulty swallowing, accumulation of fluid in the chest, and pain caused by pressure on the nerves and spinal cord – should seek medical attention. If the examination is positive mesothelioma, retaining an attorney experienced in handling asbestos claims can assist a mesothelioma victim in recovering significant damages for the asbestos exposure. Knowledgeable asbestos claim attorneys will be able to identify the workplace where the exposure occurred and work with other attorneys to recover damages.