How Did I Get Mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is a serious and rare form of cancer that is directly linked to exposure to asbestos. One can become exposed to asbestos in a number of different ways, all of which can lead to the development of mesothelioma.  For those diagnosed with the disease, it can be highly challenging to cope, especially since mesothelioma can be difficult to treat and may also lead to loss time at work, significant pain and suffering, and the inability to financially support one’s family.

At Stern Law, PLLC, we understand how overwhelmed you may feel, and as such, we want to help you fight for the compensation you need to cover your costs and live as comfortably as possible.  You did not deserve to get mesothelioma, but you deserve to be compensated to the fullest extent of the law.  Contact Stern Law, PLLC today at (844) 808-7529 to schedule your free consultation with one of our seasoned and compassionate asbestos exposure attorneys.

What is Asbestos? 

Touted for its heat and fire resistant properties, asbestos is a group of minerals that form as a bundle of fibers. There are two main types of asbestos – chrysotile and amphibole asbestos.  Chrysotile asbestos, also referred to as “white asbestos,” is the most common spiral shaped form of asbestos used in industrial settings.  Conversely, amphibole asbestos contains straight and needle-like fibers, and was less used due to its brittle and inflexible nature.

How do People get Exposed to Asbestos?

While asbestos is the proven cause of the disease, there are several paths of exposure that lead to a mesothelioma diagnosis.  These are as follows:

  • Occupational exposure–the most common form of exposure, occupational exposure relates to those working in industrial settings who came into contact with asbestos-containing materials. Occupations such as shipyard workers, those who worked for the military, constructions workers, chemical and power plant workers, insulators, boiler room workers and auto mechanics are associated with the most prevalent occurrences of asbestos exposure.
  • Secondhand exposure – secondhand exposure refers to a type of exposure wherein those working with asbestos would inadvertently expose people in their home. For example, many wives of men who worked with asbestos have contracted mesothelioma due to laundering their spouse’s work clothes that were covered with asbestos.
  • Environmental exposure – asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral. As such, those who reside near large deposits of asbestos (such as mines) can be exposed through water run-off and mining activities.  While rare, this can be a deadly form of exposure.

How does Mesothelioma Develop?

Exposure to asbestos typically occurs when its fibers become loosened or disturbed, causing the release of asbestos into the air.  Once airborne, a person can develop mesothelioma via ingestion and/or inhalation.  Once in the body, asbestos fibers can become lodged on the protective linings of the heart, lungs, and abdominal wall.  These fibers, once trapped, can cause tissue irritation to these organs, ultimately resulting in genetic mutations that can develop into cancerous tumors over time.

Types of Mesothelioma

Following exposure, there are three types of mesothelioma that one can develop – pleural mesothelioma, peritoneal mesothelioma, and pericardial mesothelioma, all of which are further described as follows:

  • Pleural mesothelioma – pleural mesothelioma is the most common of the three types of the disease with nearly 2,500 new cases diagnosed per year. Specifically, pleural mesothelioma attacks the lining, or pleura, of the lungs, and accounts for roughly 80% of all mesothelioma cases. When an individual has been heavily exposed to asbestos over a long time period (i.e., has inhaled asbestos leading to asbestos fibers becoming embedded in the pleura), it can lead to chronic inflammation, scar tissue, and may ultimately cause tumors to form in the lungs.  Symptoms of pleural mesothelioma include chest or lower back pain, a persistent cough, coughing up blood, trouble swallowing, shortness of breath, fluid buildup around the lungs, hoarseness, difficulty talking, and blood clots.
  • Peritoneal mesothelioma – peritoneal mesothelioma is a rarer form of cancer, with about 500 new cases diagnosed per year in the United States. This type of mesothelioma affects the abdominal lining, or peritoneum, and accounts for approximately 20% of all mesothelioma cases.  Due to its location, peritoneal mesothelioma is sometimes referred to as abdominal mesothelioma.  Scientists believe that after continuous and ongoing exposure to asbestos, the fibers first enter the lungs and then travel to the abdominal cavity via the lymphatic system.  Further theories posit that peritoneal mesothelioma can also develop in the event that asbestos is accidentally ingested due to regularly working with the substance.  Symptoms of this disease include abdominal pain, abdominal swelling, difficulty breathing, loss of appetite and/or weight loss, weakness, fever, anemia, nausea and vomiting.
  • Pericardial mesothelioma – the least common type of mesothelioma, this disease develops in the lining, or pericardium, of the heart, and accounts for less than 50 cases diagnosed per year in the United States. Unlike pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma, it is unclear as to how asbestos fibers reach the pericardium.  Often mimicking other diseases, pericardial mesothelioma causes the following symptoms:  cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, heart murmurs, fatigue, fluid buildup around the heart, swelling of the extremities, heart arrhythmias, a more prominent jugular vein, and accentuated variance in the pulse during respiration.

For all of the above forms of mesothelioma, symptoms of the disease can start anywhere between 10 and 50 years after exposure to asbestos and depends upon several factors, including the type and level of one’s exposure.

Were You Diagnosed with Mesothelioma?  Contact Stern Law, PLLC Today

At Stern Law, PLLC, we understand the complexities associated with a mesothelioma diagnosis, and want to help.  We take the time you need to review your case, determine the sources of your exposure, and develop a plan of action to fight for the compensation you deserve.  Contact Stern Law, PLLC today at (844) 808-7529 to schedule your free consultation with one of our seasoned mesothelioma attorneys.

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