Compensation is available for mesothelioma cancer patients and their families. As a victim of mesothelioma, you will want to find out if you are eligible to recover a settlement for your injuries and losses.

Perhaps you or someone you know has been diagnosed with mesothelioma. “What is it?” you may be wondering. Mesothelioma is a rare but deadly cancer that kills approximately 2,500 to 3,000 people each year in the United States. Mesothelioma diagnoses have increased at an alarming rate, based in part on two factors:

  • The latency period for mesothelioma cancer to show symptoms is often up to 50 years after asbestos exposure. Many WWII veterans and others who were exposed to asbestos in the 1940s and 50s are now being diagnosed with having a type of asbestos cancer.
  • Mesothelioma used to be misdiagnosed as other types of cancer or respiratory diseases. Nowadays, the tests for mesothelioma are better, physicians are more aware of its existence, and the disease is being “caught” more often.

What Is Mesothelioma Cancer?

There’s more than just one answer to the question “What is mesothelioma cancer?” One answer is that it is a cancer that affects the mesothelium. The mesothelium is a tissue lining inside the chest cavity of the body. Other answers might refer to the different types of mesothelioma cancer. There are several specific types of mesothelioma cancer, such as pleural, peritoneal, and pericardial mesothelioma, and malignant mesothelioma. The cancer most often attacks the pleura. The pleura is the tissue sac that holds the lungs. A diagnosis of mesothelioma is usually fatal. The average life expectancy after a mesothelioma cancer diagnosis is about 18 months.

Three Types of Mesothelioma Cancer

Pleural Mesothelioma Cancer

Pleural mesothelioma is the most common type of malignant mesothelioma. It is the form that affects the pleural space, or the thin membrane between the lungs and the chest cavity, but often spreads widely and invades other thoracic structures. Patients are often older men who experience dyspnea (difficult or labored respiration), chest pain, extensive pleural effusions (leakage of fluid through the membrane surrounding the lungs), coughing up of blood, raspy voices, and shortness of breath. Pleural mesothelioma is usually fatal within one year.

Peritoneal Mesothelioma Cancer

Peritoneal mesothelioma is a form of mesothelioma that affects the peritoneum, which is the membrane surrounding the abdominal cavity. This results in tumors in the stomach and abdominal organs, and it may spread to involve the intestines and cause obstruction. Symptoms include ascites (accumulation of fluid in the abdomen), pain, a mass in the abdomen, loss of appetite, anemia, fever, vomiting, and blood clotting abnormalities.

Pericardial Mesothelioma Cancer

The third and rarest of the three types of mesothelioma cancer is pericardial mesothelioma. Pericardial mesothelioma affects the tissue and cavity surrounding the heart. Symptoms may include chest pain, shortness of breath, excessive coughing, and palpitations (abnormally rapid and strong heart beat).

How Does Someone Get Mesothelioma Cancer?

Mesothelioma and asbestos are directly related, as the only confirmed cause of mesothelioma is asbestos exposure. Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that is composed of millions of fibers that are too small for the naked eye to see. When a product containing asbestos is in poor condition or is manipulated due to its installation, removal, or repair, it is likely to shed or release some of these fibers. The fibers are so light that they float in the air for hours or even days. People in their vicinity may breathe in these asbestos fibers without knowing they are doing so. When they are breathed in, the asbestos fibers become lodged in the lungs and/or other internal organs, where they can cause the development of mesothelioma. This cancer is common among people who work in asbestos mines or work with asbestos products, but people who are simply exposed to an asbestos product can also develop mesothelioma cancer. Although a 100 percent effective mesothelioma treatment has not yet been found, researchers are constantly working to cure the illness. Mesothelioma medical treatment centers have also been opened throughout the country to help support those who are living with the illness.

Who Is Vulnerable to Mesothelioma Cancer?

About Mesothelioma Cancer Patients

Although mesothelioma patients are of both genders across a wide range of ages, their numbers are more common in certain occupations and military positions, due to the higher asbestos levels present in those jobs. NIOSH data revealed the following industries and their percentages of the total deaths due to mesothelioma in 1999:

  • Ship and boat building and repairing – 5.9%
  • Petroleum refining: 3.8%
  • Electric light and power: 3.0%
  • Construction: 1.5%
  • Industrial and miscellaneous chemicals: 4.8%

The mining industry is not included in these data. However, asbestos mining alone accounts for a very large percentage of mesothelioma cancer patients and fatalities.

Mesothelioma Cancer Patients by Occupation

NIOSH findings also reveal that certain occupations account for high percentages of mesothelioma cancer deaths, which illustrated in this data from 1999):

  • Plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters: 4.7%
  • Teachers, elementary school: 2.1%
  • Mechanical engineers: 3.0%
  • Electricians: 2.4%

The data for teachers may be surprising; however, teachers have often spent years in classrooms with asbestos ceiling tiles and other components.

Mesotheliomas Cancer Risks in Homes

Exposure to asbestos in homes is another risk factor for mesotheliomas cancer. There are two ways a person can be exposed to asbestos in the home. First, people who work with asbestos can unknowingly bring this material home with them on their clothing, bags, and other work equipment. Over 100 cases of this type of asbestos exposure have been reported. Second, many homes built before the 1970s also contain asbestos. Repairs, remodels, or demolition of flooring, roofing, siding and other asbestos-containing products can also increase the risk of exposure, particularly if proper safety precautions are not applied. Schools and other buildings also pose a risk of asbestos exposure.

Military affected by Mesotheliomas Cancer

The military used asbestos pervasively from the 1930s to the 1970s for everything from soundproofing to electrical wiring. Over 300 products used by the military are known to have contained asbestos in the 20th century. Despite the known risks, the military even mandated asbestos use in the 1940s.

Other Mesotheliomas Risk factors

  • Men appear to have a higher incidence of mesotheliomas cancer than women.
  • Smoking does NOT appear to be strongly correlated with mesothelioma cancer.
  • Prolonged exposure and exposure to high levels of asbestos also appear to increase the risk of malignant mesotheliomas.

Asbestos Products Are Everywhere

However, since asbestos-containing products are estimated to have been installed in hundreds of millions of homes, schools, office buildings, factories, and other structures in the U.S. in the 1940s through the 1970s, it is possible for virtually anyone to be exposed to a toxic level of asbestos.

General signs and symptoms of Mesothelioma

There are certain signs and symptoms of mesothelioma cancer that are common to all types. These signs and symptoms are:

  • Unexplained weight loss.
  • Changes in appetite.
  • Trouble swallowing.
  • Pain in the neck or face.
  • Blood clotting abnormalities.
  • Fever.
  • Anemia.
  • Fatigue.
  • Jaundice.
  • Low blood sugar.

Many of these symptoms and signs develop in the later stages, after the cancer has spread or metastasized to other areas of the body. Mesothelioma cancer does not typically spread to the bone, brain, or adrenal glands.

Mesothelioma Symptoms

Specific symptoms of Pleural Mesothelioma:

  • Shortness of breath.
  • A persistent cough.
  • Pleural effusion.
  • Pain in the lower back.
  • Pain in the side of chest.
  • Raspy voice.
  • Difficulty swallowing.
  • Fever.
  • Night sweats.
  • Weight loss.

Specific symptoms of Peritoneal mesothelioma:

  • Weight loss.
  • Abdominal pain.
  • Buildup of fluid in the abdomen, thus causing swelling.
  • Bowel obstruction.
  • Abnormal blood clotting.
  • Anemia.
  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Fever.
  • Swelling of the feet.

Specific symptoms of Pericardial mesothelioma:

  • Excessive coughing.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Chest pain.
  • Nausea.
  • Weight loss.
  • Vomiting.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Palpitations.

Is there a Mesothelioma Treatment?

When diagnosed with mesothelioma cancer, it is crucial that you review your treatment options with your doctor. While there is no cure, treatment can be helpful for some. Look up valuable information regarding asbestos and how it causes types of lung cancer, mesothelioma, and other diseases while you are here on the Mesothelioma Treatment Centers website. In addition to learning the answer to the question “what is mesothelioma cancer?” you can also discover information about your legal rights and how a lawyer can be of benefit. To explore your legal options with an experienced attorney, contact Mesothelioma Treatment Centers today.

Mesothelioma Information (english) / Informacion Sobre el Mesotelioma (spanish)