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Thankfully, we live in a time where we fully understand the dangers of exposure to asbestos. While treatment options are still incredibly limited, and diagnosis frequently doesn’t occur until it’s too late, at least we understand what causes the asbestos-related cancer, otherwise known as mesothelioma. This guide will aim to look at how mesothelioma develops, what treatment options are currently available, and any legal action that can be taken if you discover that you might have the cancer.
Anyone that has been in close proximity to asbestos is at risk of developing the cancer. According to the latest statistics, it is estimated that 3,000 people are diagnosed with the cancer related to asbestos every year. Unfortunately, just because you’re not currently suffering from the cancer doesn’t mean it hasn’t developed in your body. The cancer has a long latency period, meaning it can lay dormant for up to 20 years before finally developing.
The cancer itself is caused by asbestos fibers being inhaled and then sticking to the insides of a victim’s lungs and other vital organs. Since the body is incapable of breaking down these materials any further, they’re able to cause immense damage to the human body from the inside. This scarring and general bodily damage can eventually cause an aggressive form of cancer to develop.
Occupational Exposure to Asbestos
Since most people that suffer from asbestos-related cancer originally got it from a work site, it’ worth looking specifically at the risk factors associated to certain job types. As a result, those that worked in industrial or construction fields are overwhelmingly more likely to suffer from cancer than those in other fields. The only other field that had similar exposure rates were those that worked from home. Luckily, these risks are no longer present in these industries, or in homes, but these risks are still serious for anyone that worked in those fields roughly 30 years ago.
The cancer that develops from asbestos primarily takes the form of one of several types of tumors: pleural, pericardial, peritoneal, and testicular. The most common of these tumors is the pleural, which primarily affects the lungs. From here, it can spread to other parts of the body, which is why it has developed a reputation for being a lung cancer, despite that not actually being the case. Still, it’s worth paying attention to many symptoms related to the lungs to determine if you’re suffering from pleural tumors. This can include symptoms similar to pneumonia, such as shortness of breath, general chest pain, a persistent cough, or loss of appetite.
Pericardial tumors are much more lethal than their pleural counterpart, as pericardial tumors target the heart specifically. Although it has similar symptoms to pleural tumors, it is considerably more deadly.
The second most popular form of asbestos cancer is peritoneal, which targets the abdominal cavity. Unlike the other types of tumors, peritoneal tumors in the abdomen can cause the stomach to swell with fluid, causing immense pain to the victim. Victims of peritoneal tumors are also more likely to have a decreased appetite and experience much more pronounced weight loss.
The last form of cancer is testicular. Unfortunately, this type of cancer is so rare that it is difficult for researchers to come to a consensus on its symptoms or method of treatment. The only symptom that is generally agreed upon is a painful swelling that can result in the patient’s testicles, similar to the swelling experienced in the abdomen of those suffering from peritoneal cancer.
Since this form of cancer is so aggressive, it has been extremely difficult to treat. Its long latency period also makes it difficult to diagnose, as its onset is both sudden and rapid. As all forms of the cancer are incurable, doctors instead focus primarily on reducing the pain of the victim and increasing their general life expectancy. Since at least two forms of the cancer involve a painful swelling of fluids in different parts of the body, many doctors will utilize surgery to help alleviate the swelling and release some of the fluid build-up.
In addition to surgical options, doctors will also often utilize traditional cancer therapies as a means of reducing the tumor’s growth and limit its damage to the body. This can take the form of radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and other new therapies that specifically target the cancerous cells throughout the body.
Unfortunately, a part of the cancer’s resistance lies in the different cells that comprise it. While the most common type of cell has had some success in being eradicated, its more resistant counterpart, sarcomatid, has resisted virtually all treatment types. It’s for this reason that an early and accurate diagnosis is vital to the survival of the patient, but this can still be difficult because of the nature of the affliction.
As of right now, this type of cancer has developed a reputation for being an “orphan disease.” In the United States, an orphan disease is any disease that does not infect a large amount of the population. Despite infecting 3,000 people every year, it is still not enough to gain traction as compared to the more popular diseases that sweep the media every year. Still, even if it is considered an orphan disease, there is still hope for new treatments to develop and finally help undo all of the damage that asbestos exposure has caused over the years.
If you’re suffering from Asbestos-related cancer, then you might want to consider hiring a West Virginia mesothelioma lawyer with experience in helping people get compensation for their affliction. Anyone exposed to Asbestos is, simply put, a victim of corporate negligence. In addition to the traditional lawsuit route, many companies that used Asbestos in the past have established trust funds specifically designed to help the victims of their negligence over the years. By contacting a West Virginia mesothelioma lawyer, you can get more information how to access these trust funds or what other legal steps you could take next to receive further compensation for your suffering.
Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law