Mesothelioma FAQ

What is mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer that can develop inside the body of a person who has been exposed to asbestos fibers. This cancer develops in the mesothelium, a tissue membrane that lines the lungs, abdominal cavity, chest cavity, and internal organs. Also called asbestos cancer, mesothelioma’s only known cause is the ingestion or inhalation of asbestos fibers.

How is malignant mesothelioma diagnosed?

Your doctor will check for fluid in the chest, heart, or stomach, which may indicate mesothelioma. He or she may then perform one of the following tests to determine the presence of cancer:

  • MRI
  • CT scan
  • X-rays
  • Biopsy of the tumor
  • PET scan

Does mesothelioma always mean “cancer?”

Benign tumors unrelated to asbestos may develop in the mesothelium and may be surgically removed with a positive prognosis for the patient. However, most cases of asbestos-related mesothelioma are malignant.

What are the risk factors for mesothelioma?

Factors that may put a person at risk for mesothelioma include:

  • Age. Most people who are diagnosed with mesothelioma are over the age of 65.
  • Gender. More men are diagnosed with mesothelioma than women.
  • Past exposure to radiation. Some people who have received radiation for cancer in the chest in the past may have a heightened risk of mesothelioma, especially if they were given Thorotrast (a substance that is no longer used because it increases the risk of some cancers.)
  • Exposure to asbestos. Workers with regular exposure to asbestos have a high risk of developing mesothelioma. Family members are also at risk from exposure to asbestos fibers brought home on the workers' clothing.

Can mesothelioma be cured?

There is currently no cure for mesothelioma, however, it may be possible to remove a cancerous tumor and attempt to destroy any remaining cancer cells with treatments such as radiation and chemotherapy. While complete eradication of the cancer is currently not possible, this may help prolong a patient’s life and there are other palliative options to help patients live more comfortably.

What are the surgical options for mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is a rare tumor of the tissue in the lining of the lungs, stomach, heart, and other organs, caused by exposure to asbestos. Sadly, Mesothelioma takes the lives of thousands of victims every year. Though the treatment and survival options following a mesothelioma diagnosis are not as promising as we’d like, victims can seek out radiation and chemotherapy in addition to surgery.

The surgical options for Mesothelioma include, but are not limited to:

  • Extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP), usually used on stage 1 and 2 pleural mesothelioma patients
  • Pleurectomy/decortication (P/D), which is the removal of lung’s lining as well as any visible tumors
  • Cytoreduction with HIPEC, which is the removal of the lining of the abdomen, combined with heated intraoperative chemotherapy

These options have improved increasingly over the years, offering relief to countless mesothelioma sufferers.

How do you get mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma’s only known cause is inhalation or ingestion of asbestos, a naturally-occurring fibrous silicate mineral that for many years was used in a number of commercial applications. Although it is a known health hazard and carcinogen, asbestos has still not been completely banned in the United States. Those most at risk of asbestos exposure include industrial and chemical plant workers, electricians, engineers, HVAC mechanics, auto mechanics, shipyard workers, firefighters, insulators, textile mill workers, and more.

Are lung cancer and mesothelioma the same thing?

Although commonly confused, lung cancer and mesothelioma are two different types of cancer. Asbestos exposure may cause both kinds of cancer, but is the only known cause of malignant mesothelioma.

What can I do if I was diagnosed with mesothelioma?

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma or asbestos-related lung cancer, you have legal options. You may be eligible to file a claim or lawsuit seeking financial compensation for your medical bills and other damages. Seek legal counsel as soon as possible

How long do I have to file a mesothelioma lawsuit?

In Texas, you have two years from the date of diagnosis to file a claim. If you have lost a loved one and wish to file a wrongful death lawsuit, you have two years from the date of death.

Each state uses its own laws regarding statutes of limitations on mesothelioma claims. Some states only give the plaintiff’s one year after diagnosis, while others extend the statute to two years, three years, or more. You will need to look up your own state’s laws to figure out how much time you have to file a claim, but it is best to err on the side of caution and assume it could be as short as one year. It is important to consult a lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your case because if you miss the deadline, you may be barred from seeking compensation.

Can I afford a mesothelioma lawyer?

Most mesothelioma lawyers, including those at Shrader & Associates L.L.P., accept cases on a contingency fee basis. With contingency fees, attorney fees are taken as a portion of the recovery, so the plaintiff does not have to pay any legal expenses from their own pocket. This arrangement ensures that all people have access to legal aid regardless of their ability to pay a lawyer upfront.

Do you have further questions? Contact Shrader & Associates L.L.P. today to schedule a free case review.