Malignant mesothelioma, a rare type of cancer, takes the lives of approximately 3,000 people each year.1 Mesothelioma develops in “the thin layer of tissue that covers the majority of your internal organs (mesothelium).”2
While treatment options are available, the 5-year survival rates for mesothelioma victims is 16 percent or less for all stages of diagnosis.3 What’s more, the main cause of this disease—asbestos exposure—is preventable. In addition, the initial symptoms of mesothelioma appear decades after the first instance of asbestos exposure.
Therefore, it is important to know about how this rare cancer develops and what symptoms to look for—especially if you have been exposed to asbestos in the past.
Asbestos exposure is the main cause of mesothelioma
The main risk factor for developing mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos.3 Asbestos is “a group of minerals that occur naturally as bundles of tiny fibers” found in many part of the world.3
Most people are exposed to asbestos in their workplace. Occupations most at risk for asbestos exposure include “some miners, factory workers, insulation manufacturers and installers, railroad and automotive workers, ship builders, gas mask manufacturers, plumbers, and construction workers.”3
People can also be exposed in older houses built before 1980. For example, asbestos was used to “insulate many older homes, as well as commercial and public buildings around the country, including some schools.”3 In this setting, the risk of exposure is likely to be very low unless “particles somehow escape into the air, such as when building materials begin to decompose over time, or during remodeling or removal.”3
When asbestos fibers are airborne, people become at risk for inhaling or swallowing them. If inhaled or swallowed, asbestos fibers can burrow into the lining of the lung or stomach then reach the mesothelium. These fibers gradually injure cells over 20 to 50 years, sometimes causing mesothelioma to develop.3
Two types of mesothelioma: pleural and peritoneal
Mesothelioma is diagnosed by type, depending on where it develops in the mesothelium. Pleural mesothelioma develops in “the tissue that surrounds the lungs” due to the inhalation of asbestos fibers.2 This type of mesothelioma can be misdiagnosed as lung cancer.
On the other hand, peritoneal mesothelioma “occurs in tissue in the abdomen,” usually from the ingestion of asbestos fibers.2
Symptoms of pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma
Because it develops near the lungs, pleural mesothelioma “puts pressure on the structures in that area.”2 As such, it can cause the following symptoms:
- Difficulty breathing2
- Chest pain2
- Difficulty swallowing2
- Pain caused by pressure on the nerves and spinal cord2
- Accumulation of fluid in the chest (pleural effusion), which can compress the lung nearby and make breathing difficult2
- Excessive sweating4
- Sudden weight loss4
- Hoarseness of voice4
- Swelling of the face and arms4
As it develops near the stomach, peritoneal mesothelioma causes the following symptoms in the abdominal area:
- Abdominal pain2
- Abdominal swelling2
- Lumps of tissue in the abdomen2
- Unexplained weight loss2
- Nausea and vomiting4
Diagnosed with mesothelioma? Contact us today
If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you need an attorney on your side while pursuing compensation for wrongful asbestos exposure. That’s why our mesothelioma attorneys at Shannon Law Group, P.C., are here to help.
You can call us at (312) 578-9501 or toll-free at (886) 881-9980. You can also fill out our online contact form. One of our team members will be in touch with you soon. A free, no-obligation consultation is available as well.