Among cancers, mesothelioma is known as one of the more aggressive and deadly types. While doctors have a variety of treatments to attempt on a patient, accessing a cure is another story.
The name for the cancer comes from the type of body tissue that is affected by the cancer—the mesothelium, which is a thin tissue layer covering most of the internal organs in the body. Doctors identify the particular type of mesothelioma by names that refer to which part of the patient’s mesothelium is affected.
Experts track the cause of mesothelioma back to asbestos exposure almost exclusively. A naturally occurring mineral, asbestos is used to make building insulation, brakes, roof shingles, flooring, and other products. Workers are often exposed to asbestos dust while mining or while removing asbestos insulation. When inhaled or ingested, the fibers can lodge in the lungs or stomach and cause damage to the tissue surrounding the organ.
What Are The Types Of Mesothelioma?
There are four types of mesothelioma: pleural, peritoneal, pericardial, and testicular. The names refer to the area of mesothelium affected by each cancer.
The most common type of the disease is pleural mesothelioma, which is a cancer of the pleura, the tissue surrounding the lungs. Among the 20 million people who are at risk of developing mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure, health professionals diagnose approximately 2,500 cases of pleural mesothelioma every year. This total accounts for approximately 80 to 90% of all types that are diagnosed. Symptoms include:
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Painful, dry cough
- Unexplained weight loss
- Strange lumps of tissue beneath skin around the chest area
The second-most common form is peritoneal mesothelioma, which is a cancer of the tissue lining the abdomen. Some 15 to 20% of cases are of this type. Symptoms include:
- Abdominal pain and swelling
- Unexplained weight loss
Pericardial mesothelioma is a cancer of the tissue lining the outside of the heart. It is very rare, accounting for approximately one-to-two percent of all cases. It is estimated that only about 50 people are diagnosed with this type of mesothelioma in the U.S. each year. Symptoms include:
- Breathing difficulty
- Chest pains
- Irregular heartbeat
The rarest type of mesothelioma, testicular mesothelioma, affects the lining of the testicles and accounts for less than one percent of mesothelioma cases. While testicular mesothelioma typically has the best prognosis of the four types, it also usually recurs within five years. Symptoms include:
- Mass on the testicle
If you are experiencing any symptoms of the four types of mesothelioma, it is important to consult a doctor for screening and diagnosis.
What Are The Stages Of Mesothelioma?
As with other types of cancer, there are four classifications to describe how far along the disease is. Health experts diagnose the condition using a range of tests and procedures. However, biopsies, which sample the affected tissue, are the only method to diagnose the cancer with certainty.
Stage 1 is the earliest stage. Patients have the best treatment options available to them in this stage because the cancer has not yet spread. It is often difficult to discover the cancer in stage 1, though, as the symptoms tend to be mild enough for people not to seek medical attention and testing at this point.
By stage 2, the cancer has begun to spread to organs and tissue in the area of the original cancer. Doctors typically pursue aggressive treatment options at this stage, including surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.
In Stage 3, cancer has spread to tissues, organs, and lymph nodes around the area. Prognosis for survival of stage 3 mesothelioma is typically measured in months, from 16 to 26 months.
In stage 4, the cancer has already spread, or “metastasized,” to areas of the body that are distant from the original location. Treatment at this stage is focused on improving quality of life and extending survival, which is typically expected to be about one year.
The treatment options available for mesothelioma include:
- Surgery: Surgeons remove the cancerous tumors and some of the surrounding tissue. In pleural mesothelioma, for example, they may remove part of the covering of the lungs and some of the outside surface of the lungs. Even more extreme measures may involve removing an entire lung, some of the lining of the chest cavity, the diaphragm, or the lining of the sac that surrounds the heart.
- Radiation: Health professionals use high-energy x-rays or other radiation to eliminate the cancer cells and stop their growth. A machine outside of the body projects the radiation into the part of the body that has been affected by the cancer.
- Chemotherapy: This treatment involves injecting drugs into the patient’s veins or muscles, or the patient ingesting them orally, so that the medication can enter the bloodstream and diffuse to target cancer cells throughout the body.
Many factors are at work in determining the prognosis and the right treatment for the patient once the cancer is detected. While typical prognosis for mesothelioma is not encouraging, science continues to advance, allowing scientists and medical providers to learn more about the cancer and how to fight it more effectively.
Filing A Mesothelioma Lawsuit
If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, this may have happened because of your exposure to asbestos. Critically, in many cases, companies have failed to protect their employees or otherwise warn them about the risks of inhaling asbestos dust or other toxic particles. You have the right to sue those who exposed you. By bringing a lawsuit, you could receive damages (compensation) relating to cancer treatment, medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages and more. To the extent that your loved one died because of mesothelioma, then the representative of their estate (e.g. executor, personal representative) could pursue a wrongful death claim to obtain compensation for lost wages, funeral expenses, medical bills and even loss of companionship.
Hiring A Lawyer For A Mesothelioma Lawsuit
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, it is important to consult with a mesothelioma attorney to determine the best way to proceed. While a lawsuit won’t make the cancer disappear, obtaining compensation could at least ease the financial burdens that stem from mesothelioma diagnosis and treatment, among other things.
At The Ledger Law Firm, our skilled personal injury attorneys have extensive experience helping injury victims, including those inflicted with mesothelioma, to obtain justice and compensation from the individuals or companies who have caused them harm. We will carefully evaluate your situation, and will fight on your behalf to make sure that you receive every dollar that you deserve in your mesothelioma case. Reach out to The Ledger Law Firm by calling (888) 907-3189 or contacting us online for a free consultation.
Learn more about filing a mesothelioma lawsuit.