Mesothelioma is a rare variety of cancer that is caused by exposure to asbestos. There are approximately 3,000 cases of mesothelioma diagnosed each year. Mesothelioma is an asbestos-related disease that is completely preventable.However, this disease is most accurately described as a deadly and aggressive form of cancer.
How Mesothelioma Works
Mesothelioma is described as asbestos fibers building inside the thin membrane lining of vital organs and causes inflammation and scarring. The membrane layer that asbestos fibers accumulate inside of is known as the mesothelium. The mesothelium membrane around your lungs, abdomen, heart and testicles provides a lubricating fluid that allows the organs to expand, contract and move against each other with ease. Over time, the chronic inflammation from the asbestos fibers inside the mesothelium forms into cancerous mesothelial cells. The cellular damage caused by the asbestos can result in tumor growth.
Types of Mesothelioma
The main types of mesothelioma are pleural, peritoneal and pericardial and testicular mesothelioma. The pericardial and testicular varieties are extremely rare and only account for approximately 1 percent of all mesothelioma cases. Approximately 50 percent of all mesothelioma cases are classified as epithelioid, and typically have a more promising outlook than other diagnoses.
Pleural Mesothelioma is the most common variety and accounts for around 75 percent of all cases. With this type, the asbestos fibers and disease are found in the linings of the lungs. There are a number of clinical studies underway to help improve survival rates and treatment options.
Peritoneal Mesothelioma accounts for up to 20 percent of all diagnosed cases. With this variety, the scarring and inflammation from asbestosis affecting the abdominal cavity. Peritoneal mesothelioma is best treated with a combination of heated chemotherapy and surgery.
Pericardial Mesothelioma is one the rarest varieties a patient can be diagnosed with. with the peritoneal variety, the membranes that sustain the scarring and inflammation surround the heart. This is especially hard to treat due to the sensitivity of the area that needs to be treated.
History of Mesothelioma
Asbestos was being used as early as 2400 B.C, but first came into commercial use by the mid-1850s. In 1918, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released a report on the abnormally high rate of early death associated with asbestos workers. During 1930, the first clinical examinations of asbestos workers published that 25 percent of these employees were afflicted with asbestosis. By 1935, companies like General Motors and Johns-Manville were already inspiring on how to manage the liabilities associated with exposing their workforce to harmful asbestos.
The first case of asbestosis affecting a U.S. worker occurred in 1933.
Who’s Affected by Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma affects anyone exposed to asbestos between age 6 and over age 60. The average age for people diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma is 69. Overall, men seem to be more affected by mesothelioma than women. The rate of mesothelioma has also been higher with people who identify as white or Hispanic, than those identified as Asian American or African American. However, up to 80 percent of all mesothelioma cases are attributed to asbestos exposure that occurred on the job. Some of the common places to be exposed to asbestos include:
- Public buildings
- Older houses and buildings
- Auto repair shops
- Industrial workplaces
Latency and Diagnosis
The latency for mesothelioma typically lasts from 10 to 50 years from the date of asbestos exposure. This means that the scarring and inflammation of the mesothelium can go on for decades before any symptoms are detected by the victim. The latency period for Mesothelioma begins once the microscopic fibers have begun to biologically damage the body. The widespread use of asbestos has declined recently, but the number of mesothelioma patients continues to steadily increase due to the extremely long latency period.
Symptoms of Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma symptom can be difficult to diagnose because they are easily mistaken as being related or caused by another condition. Some of the most common mesothelioma symptoms to be aware of include:
- Weight loss
- Vomiting or nausea
- Fluid buildup, or effusion, in the abdomen or lungs
- Chest pain
- Trouble breathing, shortness of breath
- Difficulty swallowing
- Dry cough
Treatments for Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma has no cure yet, but there are treatments to help alleviate the symptoms and improve survival rates. In addition, medical professionals have been looking for alternative therapies and innovative options for treatment. Often times, the options for treatment are dictated by what stage the patient’s mesothelioma is in.
People diagnosed with stage IV mesothelioma or early on in stage IV may qualify for talc pleurodesis that helps prevent the symptoms from recurring. Treating the mesothelioma is difficult, and doctors are still studying the effectiveness of radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and surgery. Other therapies include photodynamic therapy, targeted drugs, gene therapies and immunotherapies and virus therapies.
The five-year survival rate for people diagnosed with mesothelioma range between 5 and 10 percent. If you are diagnosed at a younger age, you have a better chance or surviving longer. For people diagnosed with stage I, the median survival rate is 21 months. If you’ve been diagnosed with stage II of mesothelioma, the median survival rate is 19 months. For stage III and IV, the median survival rate is 16 months and 12 months, respectively. Generally speaking, patients with mesothelial too far spread to remove have a lower survival rate than those who can still be operated on.
At Mesowatch, we help you initiate discovery, file lawsuits and go after the parties liable for negligently exposing you to asbestos that caused the mesothelioma to develop. In addition, we may also be able to assist you with filing a trust fund claim so you can recover some of the restitution you’re entitled to for your mesothelioma suffering. We are one of the leading resources for asbestos victims who need to connect with medical and legal professionals experienced in working mesothelioma cases.