Mesothelioma is a specific type of cancer almost exclusively caused by exposure to asbestos fibers. While there are other mesothelioma causes, they are very rare. It is found in the mesothelium, a protective membrane that surrounds the internal organs in the chest and abdomen area. Most cases of mesothelioma begin in the pleura – the portion of the mesothelium surrounding the lungs. This is because asbestos exposure is usually through inhalation of airborne, sometimes called friable, particles.
Mesothelioma Causes: Long Term Exposure to Asbestos
The number one risk factor for contracting mesothelioma is long term exposure to asbestos. The majority of these exposures happen at work. Because mesothelioma doesn’t usually present until 20 to 50 years after exposure, a job that you had as far back as the 1960s or earlier could have resulted in asbestos exposure. Here’s a short list of the most common industries that resulted in these exposures:
- Construction Workers
- HVAC workers
- Mill Workers
- Oil Workers
- Railroad Workers
- Maritime Workers
- Shipyard Workers
If you worked in one of these industries, there is a chance that you have been exposed to asbestos, but you aren’t the only one at risk. Asbestos fibers cling to clothing and skin and are often carried back home with you from the jobsite. This means that anyone who came in contact with you or your clothing may have also been exposed to airborne asbestos fibers. There have been several cases where housewives have been diagnosed with mesothelioma that was traced back to laundering their husband’s asbestos covered clothes.
Early Symptoms of Mesothelioma
The latency period for mesothelioma is so long and the early symptoms are so innocuous that unless you point out your asbestos concerns to your doctor, diagnosis may not occur until well into the later stages of the disease. Early symptoms are similar to chest congestions, colds, and the flu. Listlessness, fatigue and shortness of breath after exercise are also common symptoms. Unfortunately, these symptoms are often attributed to being out of shape and never followed up on.
As the disease progresses, the symptoms become more overt. Some of the first symptoms are constant dry coughing, chest pain, shortness of breath, weight loss, swelling in the abdomen, fever, night sweats, and in some cases blood in the sputum. If you have been affected by any of these symptoms it is imperative that you seek medical attention. The sooner that you get a diagnosis, the sooner your medical care provider can start you on a treatment program.
The biggest thing to remember about asbestos is that there is no known safe amount of exposure. Even if you only worked at a job for a month 30 years ago, that may be enough to have contributed to the development of mesothelioma.
The companies that produced asbestos knew about the cancer risks to their workers but did nothing to reduce the risk of exposure. For this reason, they may be liable for any medical care that you need. This is very important because mesothelioma is a very expensive disease to treat. Trying to pay for it on your own could drain your savings account and any retirement that you might have.
Diagnosed with Mesothelioma?
Contacting an experienced legal team that only deals with mesothelioma cases should be your first move if you are diagnosed. At Bergman Draper Oslund, we only represent mesothelioma and have won over $700 million on their behalf. Let us handle the legal end so you can focus on the really important issue – your health.