Malignant mesothelioma is a rare cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. Even a very short exposure to inhalable asbestos fibers can cause this deadly disease, which often develops fifty years or more after initial contact with asbestos. Mesothelioma develops in the lining of the chest wall surrounding the lungs, in the lining of the abdomen, and in some cases the lining of the testes.
Mesothelioma generally has a very poor prognosis, in part due to the fact that in most cases it is not discovered until the disease has progressed to an advanced stage. If you have a history of asbestos exposure, pay close attention to symptoms which may indicate that mesothelioma is developing.
The most common types of mesothelioma are pleural (lungs), and peritoneal (abdominal.)
Most Common Pleural Mesothelioma Symptoms:
- Pain in the lower back or side of the chest
- Shortness of breath
- Difficulty Swallowing
- Weight Loss
- Swelling of the face and arms
Most Common Peritoneal Mesothelioma Symptoms:
- Pain in the belly
- Abdominal swelling or fluid build up
- Nausea and vomiting
- Weight loss
If you suffer from any of the above symptoms, take them seriously. Talk to your doctor about your history of asbestos exposure. Many of these symptoms could be associated with any number of illnesses, but early detection of mesothelioma is crucial to your chances of a better prognosis.
If your doctor suspects mesothelioma, diagnosis will begin with a physical exam. Your doctor will run tests to evaluate your lung function, including blood draws to determine the levels of CO2 and oxygen in your blood. If the initial tests and exam indicate that cancer may be a possibility, your doctor will most likely order a chest X-ray and/or CT scan. Definitive diagnosis of mesothelioma depends upon the results of a biopsy. A biopsy is an invasive procedure in which your physician inserts a needle and removes a small section of tissue to examine under a microscope.
Mesothelioma is commonly treated as most other cancers: through a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. How extensive your treatment might be would depend upon the stage of your illness at discovery and your overall health condition. Because conventional mesothelioma treatments have proven largely unsuccessful, patients are often encouraged to sign up for clinical trials and experimental treatments such as immunotherapy.
After Diagnosis: Next Steps
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, you may be eligible for legal compensation from the employer or asbestos manufacturer who failed to sufficiently protect you from toxic materials. Although the link between asbestos and mesothelioma was established in the 1930s, companies did not take steps to inform and protect the public from asbestos for nearly five more decades. Mesothelioma can take 50 or more years to develop, and only now are we realizing the full extent of the public health crisis.
Just as you should seek medical help in the early stages of illness, you should seek legal help now before symptoms make it difficult to take action. In the past five years, Bergman Draper Oslund has served more mesothelioma victims than any other firm in the Pacific Northwest. Call us today for a no-cost, no-obligation consultation.