Mesothelioma And Asbestos

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Mesothelioma is a form of cancer which has only one known major cause. That cause is exposure to asbestos. The mesothelium is the membrane that covers many of our internal organs and protects them. When mesothelioma is contracted, the membrane's cells can become abnormal, and the cells that make it up can divide unusually and without control. The symptoms generally do not appear for twenty to fifty years after asbestos exposure. This late term display of symptoms means most cases are not diagnosed until it has reached the stage when it is difficult, if not impossible, to slow the progression of the disease.

The usual symptoms can be deceptive as they are similar to those of bronchitis, heart disease, pneumonia and flu. The symptoms also do not usually become present for a period of years or even decades after exposure, so when the disease is diagnosed, it's usually beyond the point of treatment. As the medical community learns more about mesothelioma and its connection to asbestos exposure, there are tests being developed for earlier stage diagnosis that may eventually catch the disease when treatment options may be more helpful.

There are several different types of mesothelioma called peritoneal, pericardial and pleural, based on the location of the disease stomach, heart, and lungs, respectively. The symptoms vary for each form but all generally include difficulty breathing, fatigue and may include abdominal or chest pain. While this cancer is rare, it is increasingly being found in higher numbers throughout the country. Asbestos exposure is also responsible for increased chances of lung, larynx and kidney cancer. If you think you may have been exposed to asbestos you should inform your doctor so that proper testing may occur.

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral taken from the ground, exposing towns with large mines to increased levels of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases. It was once thought of as a wonder-material for building, due to its heat- and fire-resistance, and durability, and was used in insulation, fiber-board walls, and shipbuilding until the late twentieth century, when its use in the United States was regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency. Now, though it's allowed in trace amounts in some products, asbestos is banned throughout the United States. In developing countries without strict regulations, however, it is still used freely.

While it's not found to be dangerous in stable form, any disruption remodeling or removal of the asbestos-containing material or the fibers themselves can lead to dangerous exposure. Being subjected to prolonged exposure increases the dangers of the carcinogenic fibers. It can also be carried on clothes or tools, exposing those around you to similar side-effects with the same dangerous results.

If you think you may have been exposed to asbestos in your lifetime it is important to explore your legal options. There is some responsibility on the part of the manufacturers and employers who may have known the hazards and continued to use the product since it was cheap, readily available and easy to use. There are many attorneys and firms that are currently representing mesothelioma patients to recover medical costs, pain and suffering and punitive awards. You may be able to join a class action suit against particular companies and find some support for your illness. It is most important that you know your rights if you had exposure to asbestos and to inform your physician if there is even a chance you were exposed in the last fifty years. The sooner they know, the sooner they can run tests to monitor your health and your chances may increase to catch it early.


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