Mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer that is caused by exposure to asbestos, a material that was routinely used in various industries prior to the 1970s. There are three main types of the disease. Pleural mesothelioma, by far the most prominent form of the disease, affects the tissue lining that surrounds the lungs. It is caused by the breathing of asbestos fibers, which become lodged in the lungs and travel to the pleura, the lung lining. Pleural mesothelioma accounts for about 75 percent of mesothelioma cases.
Peritoneal mesothelioma accounts for about 20 percent of mesothelioma cases. This illness affects the tissue that lines the abdomen and is believed to be caused by the ingestion of asbestos fibers. Peritoneal mesothelioma can also affect the testicles. The third major type of mesothelioma, pericardial mesothelioma, affects the tissue that surrounds the heart.
Sadly, mesothelioma is one of the more aggressive forms of cancer. Depending on the stage at which the cancer is discovered, a mesothelioma prognosis often does not exceed one year, and many victims die within several months of their diagnosis. However, mesothelioma victims can take several steps to help themselves and their families better cope with this condition.
1. Get a Second Opinion. Diagnosing mesothelioma is difficult because of a lack of specific symptoms. The only mesothelioma symptoms a patient experiences might be coughing, difficulty breathing, dull chest pain and fatigue. These symptoms can be signs of numerous medical conditions, including pneumonia, heart disease and lung cancer. In addition, mesothelioma symptoms often appear only after the disease has achieved an advanced stage. Due to these difficulties, physicians often advise people diagnosed with mesothelioma to seek a second opinion. Another doctor can not only confirm or disconfirm the diagnosis, but may also diagnose the stage of the cancer more precisely and suggest additional treatment modalities.
2. Explore Your Treatment Options. Mesothelioma treatments are geared toward relieving pain, improving the patient’s quality of life, and slowing or halting the spread of cancerous cells throughout the body. After receiving a diagnosis of mesothelioma, patients should explore all available treatment options. Doctors often recommend a combination of several procedures, such as chemotherapy with radiation and surgery. Each patient requires a unique treatment for mesothelioma that takes into account the stage of cancer as well as the patient’s overall health, age, and lifestyle preferences. While some patients choose to forego treatment altogether, studies show that mesothelioma therapies do prolong patients’ life expectancies and sometimes lead to remission.
3. Consult with a Personal Injury Lawyer. If you or your loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you should seek the advice of an experienced personal injury lawyer. This is because mesothelioma causes are typically linked to somebody’s negligence or willful wrongdoing. A major cause of mesothelioma is asbestos exposure. Such exposure was frequent several decades ago, as shipyard workers, navy personnel and construction workers routinely handled materials containing asbestos fibers. Many of them have noticed mesothelioma symptoms 50 or even 60 years after the initial exposure. Skillful mesothelioma attorneys can help them and their families hold those responsible for their asbestos exposure financially liable for the resulting emotional, physical and economic damages.