What Is Asbestos Induced Mesothelioma Cancer And How Is It Diagnosed?

Mesothelioma is an aggressive and incurable cancer that develops in the mesothelium – a layer of tissue that covers the internal organs. In a vast majority of cases, mesothelioma tends to affect the lungs. It can, in some cases, also affect the abdominal cavity, heart, or the testicles.

Every year, over 3,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with mesothelioma. The average age at which a person is likely to be diagnosed with mesothelioma is 69. The life expectancy of the average mesothelioma patient usually ranges from 12 to 22 months.

What Causes Mesothelioma?

Exposure to asbestos is undoubtedly the most common cause of mesothelioma. Asbestos fibers are microscopic in nature and are invisible to the naked eye. When you inadvertently breathe in these fibers, they tend to get lodged in the mesothelium lining that covers your lungs.

The presence of these fibers damages the cells in the mesothelium lining and causes inflammation and scarring, which in turn triggers uncontrolled cell growth.

If, on the other hand, you accidentally swallow asbestos fibers, they can get lodged in the mesothelium lining that covers your abdominal cavity.

Who is at Risk of Developing Mesothelioma?

Any person who is exposed to asbestos at work is at risk of developing mesothelioma. While the use of asbestos in construction and other such industries has declined considerably over the years, experts say that people who were exposed to asbestos in the past are still at risk of developing mesothelioma.

Railroad workers, for example, are at a higher risk of developing mesothelioma compared to the general population, since asbestos was extensively used in brakes, gaskets, boilers, and pipes. Since asbestos induced mesothelioma has a long latency period, workers who were exposed to asbestos 20 or 30 years ago are still at risk of developing mesothelioma.

What are the Symptoms of Mesothelioma?

The most common symptoms of mesothelioma of the lungs include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Dry cough
  • Chest pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Fever
  • Fluid buildup in the lungs

The most common symptoms of mesothelioma of the abdomen include:

  • Pain and swelling in the abdominal region
  • Loss of appetite
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Fluid buildup in the abdomen

The most common symptoms of mesothelioma of the heart include:

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Irregular heart rhythm
  • Fluid buildup in the sac around the heart

How is Mesothelioma Diagnosed?

Mesothelioma can be detected with the help of the following diagnostic procedures.

  • X-ray
  • Computed tomography (CT) scan
  • Positron emission tomography (PET) scan
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Echocardiogram (ECG)
  • Blood test (to detect the presence of fibulin-3 and soluble mesothelin-related peptides)

Apart from this, a biopsy of the fluid in your chest, lungs, or abdominal region or a small piece of the tumor is also done to detect the presence of cancer cells.

How is Mesothelioma Treated?

Unfortunately, there is no cure available for mesothelioma. So, treatments are provided with the goal of prolonging the patient’s life to the extent possible. The most common treatments include surgery (to remove the malignant tumors), radiation therapy (to slow down the growth of malignant tumors), and chemotherapy (to shrink malignant tumors and destroy cancer cells).

Irrespective of the treatment provided, the life expectancy of the patient cannot be extended beyond two years in most cases.

What to do if You are Diagnosed with Mesothelioma?

Being diagnosed with mesothelioma can be a devastating experience. At the same time, you have a duty to protect and provide for those who are dependent on you. So, first and foremost, you should follow your physician’s instructions, undergo the recommended treatments, and try to increase your life expectancy to the extent possible.

Secondly, you should contact a personal injury lawyer who can file a lawsuit against your employer and recover an appropriate amount of compensatory damages.

The Importance of Hiring a Lawyer with Experience in Mesothelioma Cases

Railroad companies, or any other large corporation for that matter, tend to aggressively fight mesothelioma related personal injury lawsuits. Since the compensatory damages awarded in such cases are generally quite significant, your employer will use every trick in the book to have your case dismissed or at the very least discredit the validity of your claims.

Based on that information, you should make sure that you are represented by a lawyer who has the skills, resources, and trial experience to stand up to the liable party’s lawyers and fight for your interests.

The railroad injury attorneys at Shapiro, Appleton & Washburn have handled several mesothelioma related lawsuits – many of which involved railroad employees – over the last three decades. We know what it takes to win a case against railroad companies and recover compensatory damages that you are entitled to under the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) as well as Virginia’s personal injury laws.

We have recovered millions in compensation for our clients over the last three decades. We will provide you with legal representation on a contingency basis. In addition, you do not have to pay us a dime until and unless we win your case and recover damages.

Call us at 800-752-0042 to find out how our railroad injury attorney can help you.