Mesothelioma is a rare but very serious form of cancer-known as one of the most aggressive and terminal medical conditions affecting Americans today. Tragically, it is also one of the most preventable. Mesothelioma is caused almost exclusively by exposure to a known toxic carcinogen called asbestos that, despite stringent and overarching government regulation, remains a material used in some specific sectors of the American manufacturing industry today.
There is much information about mesothelioma and its relation to asbestos floating around today; and not all of that information is current, comprehensive or even entirely factual. Also, many of the resources out there are not designed for victims themselves, failing to answer the most pressing questions of those directly affected by the disease or presenting those answers in a convoluted or excessively technical context that is difficult for the average person to understand.
In response to these deficits, we have created this six-part guide with the informational needs of mesothelioma victims and their loved ones in mind. The following articles are designed to be both brief and comprehensive, as well as easily understood and targeted towards the most common inquiries made by victims of mesothelioma and asbestos.
For even more information and free legal guidance to understanding your rights after illegal or negligent asbestos exposure, contact the experienced and dedicated attorneys of Shrader Law and Associates, LLP.
When most people think of asbestos-caused illness, they think about pleural mesothelioma-the most common form of a rare but aggressive cancer that is almost exclusively by exposure to the toxic carcinogen. In reality, other types of cancer have also been linked to asbestos; and mesothelioma has four different forms total-pleural, peritoneal, pericardial and testicular.
The popular association with the pleural form results from the fact that it is identified in the overwhelming majority total mesothelioma diagnosis, accounting for between 70 and 90 percent of all cases. For every 12 victims of pleural mesothelioma, there is one victim of exclusive peritoneal mesothelioma-which is the second most common form of the disease.
The pleural variety of mesothelioma forms in lining of the lungs and chest cavity-an organ called the pleura. Similar to the peritoneum (which corresponds with the peritoneal variety), this film-like layer of mesothelial tissue serves to protect the vital organs encased within and is precariously susceptible to damage from foreign materials. Asbestos fibers invade the pleura after inhalation, becoming embedded in the fragile tissue, and eventually causing enough damage to lead to tumor formation. Malignant tumors ultimately lead to a diagnosis of malignant mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma is notoriously difficult to identify, even for highly trained medical professionals; and its symptoms are, more often than not, disregarded or underestimated by those experiencing them. Mimicking symptoms of common conditions like the cold and flu virus or allergy-induced hay fever, early warnings of developing mesothelioma frequently lead to misdiagnoses, only indicating the severity of their cause when the illness has advanced to its final stages. Symptoms of pleural mesothelioma that should be watched for, in anyone with known past exposure to asbestos, include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain or pressure
- A pervasive dry cough or wheezing
- Recurring hoarseness of the voice
- Difficulty inhaling deeply
- Chronic fatigue or exhaustion