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When one is diagnosed with lung cancer, typically there is time to devote to a wide range of treatments, particularly if the tumor is contained in a small area. The patients may pursue surgical procedures, which remove the tumor completely, chemotherapy, or radiation therapies to treat the disease. If the cancer has not progressed and it is detected early, the patient may have a strong chance for survival. Mesothelioma, however, has a much more grim prognosis.
Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that attacks the healthy tissues surrounding vital organs in the body. Approximately 70 to 80 percent of patients diagnosed with this rare lung cancer have had prolonged exposure to asbestos, usually at the workplace. Asbestos, once regarded as a miracle substance for its ability to withstand heat from fires and chemicals, is also a deadly mineral. It is usually found in rock form in the natural environment, but when heated or broken, microscopic fibers, in bundle form, burrow into the soft tissues of the internal organs when ingested or inhaled. Usually, mesothelioma develops in the lungs and chest, but 30 percent of diagnoses are detected in the abdominal cavities. This form of the cancer is even more fatal than others, as patients typically have only 10 months to live after the initial diagnosis. Aside from the lungs, chest, and abdominal cavities, the cancer can also develop around the heart, although there have been less than 200 people diagnosed with this form. Tiny tumors surround the entire surface area of the heart, making treatments nearly impossible. It is estimated that 2,000 to 3,000 people are diagnosed with some form of mesothelioma annually in the United States. Another 1,000 individuals are diagnosed in the U.K. Although very rare, mesothelioma is one of the most life-threatening forms of cancer known to man.
Symptoms of mesothelioma are difficult to detect because the disease can take decades to progress. One would have to encounter asbestos fibers over a number of years to be at risk. Some symptoms include persistent coughs, sore throats, trouble breathing, unexplained weight loss, and fatigue. When mesothelioma develops in the abdominal cavities, organs tend to excrete abnormal amounts of fluid, which can cause the patient to suffer from swelling of the infected region. Bouts of infections are not uncommon in mesothelioma patients as well. Most people diagnosed with this disease are 65 years of age or older, making it more difficult to fight off the infections. Therefore, many patients die from complications associated with the cancer.
Asbestos, which triggers the cancer, was widely considered a miracle substance for its ability to withstand extreme heat and harsh chemicals. Its durability made is usable in multiple industries, which is why mesothelioma is considered an occupational cancer. Those inflicted have usually come into contact with asbestos at the workplace. The most common workers that have been known to use asbestos include contractors, power plant workers, shipyard workers, construction workers, electricians, and insulation installers. Asbestos can be found in the walls surrounding electrical wires, in household appliances, vinyl tiles, pipes, and certain fabrics. People were generally unaware that the substance would cause such hazards down the road.
Beginning in the late 1970s, legislative reforms have helped to educate the public of the harmful material. They have taken more initiative to enforce safety regulations regarding asbestos use in business establishments. For example, most business owners are required to submit reports that verify asbestos inspections have been conducted. If asbestos is not removed immediately, business owner are subject to daily fines. As a result, individuals certified for asbestos removal have been put to work.
Just as people were learning about the hazards of asbestos, there were still few links to mesothelioma, even though people were aware asbestos could be life-threatening to workers. However, no federal regulations were put into place to provide safer working conditions in these establishments. Consequently, entrepreneurs continued to force their employees to work in areas that were known to be unsafe. Beginning in 1983, cases of asbestos-related diseases began to pop up all over the country. Business owners were held liable for negligence, personal injuries, and unlawful deaths, and were forced to pay reparations.
Settlement costs forced many of these individuals into bankruptcy. If you were recently diagnosed with mesothelioma, and wish to receive compensation for your injuries, contact an attorney with experience to help you. If nothing else, compensation can provide you with the ability to pay for medical expenses that have likely accumulated. It may help you to cope with the emotional stress you have been forced to endure during this very difficult time in your life. It can also be a means of providing for your loved ones financially when you are no longer able to care for them. Contact an attorney right away to help you with litigation processes.
Legal•Info State Mesothelioma Information
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