Mesothelioma is a cancer that develops in the protective lining around the organs in the body. It most commonly affects the outer lining of the lungs, but can also appear in other parts of the body. The cancer develops over time, and may not appear for decades after exposure.
Mesothelioma affects those who have been exposed to asbestos, most often at work, as the substance was once in common use in many industries in the United States.
There is one – and only one – known cause of mesothelioma: exposure to asbestos fibers. This form of cancer develops over decades. Many people who worked in various trades were exposed to asbestos and may decades later begin experiencing the symptoms of this deadly cancer.
There are four forms of mesothelioma, an aggressive and deadly type of cancer:
Unfortunately, mesothelioma is most frequently diagnosed at an advanced stage when it is no longer possible to perform surgery to remove the affected tissue.
As the disease develops over many years – often between 20 to 50 years from the time of exposure to asbestos – the early symptoms may be attributed to another disease or condition. The final diagnosis frequently comes far beyond the point at which it may have been more easily treated.
Prognosis for stage I – It is fairly rare for mesothelioma to be found and diagnosed in the early stages, but if found, there are better treatment options that may be effective. The survival rate, on an average, is about 3 years, with some patients living far longer and some dying much earlier. The ability to halt the cancer has advanced, and there is more hope for patients who are diagnosed at stage I to live much longer than was possible in the past. Some may have a full recovery and live a full life after the cancerous tissue has been removed and the patient treated with chemo and radiation.
Prognosis for stage II – Surgical removal of cancerous tissue is often effective in prolonging life, and is used in conjunction with other treatments such as chemo and radiation. The side of the lungs affected will be removed, as well as of the other areas that have been invaded by the disease. Life expectancy is reduced at stage II, but some patients may live several years beyond the time of the initial diagnosis.
Prognosis for stage III – There is a far shorter life expectancy for those diagnosed at stage III, and if surgery is performed, it may be to assist the patient to suffer fewer symptoms. There is far less hope of recovery from stage III mesothelioma, and the patient may live several months or longer, based upon general health and age.
Prognosis for stage IV – The focus will be on reducing pain and symptoms, as there are no treatments available that are currently capable of eradicating the spread of cancer. As this particular form of cancer, although slow to become active, once it has developed it is aggressive and difficult to treat. The prognosis for survival is very low at stage IV.
The symptoms that could indicate that the disease is developing, particularly for those who have worked in industries in which asbestos was used, such as plumbing, electrical work, construction, shipyards and other vocations, can include the following:
Chest pain (under rib cage).
Unusual tissue lumps under the skin of the chest, abdomen or testicles.
Shortness of breath.
Unexplained weight loss.
The treatment for mesothelioma will be based on the stage of the disease and the general health of the patient, as well as age. The various types of treatments that could extend life after a diagnosis include:
If you or a loved one has mesothelioma, you may have the legal right to pursue compensation from those who were responsible for the illness. You may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, wrongful death and other losses.
Let the law offices of Kraft & Associates, P.C., advise you about your legal rights as a mesothelioma victim. We’re an established and professional law firm with friendly lawyers and staff who are easy to talk to. Call us at (214) 999-9999 or contact us online for a free consultation and claim evaluation.