Mesothelioma FAQ

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What is Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that affects the membranes that surround many of our vital organs. It is specifically caused by exposure to asbestos, a fiber formerly used in building materials and insulation, as well as in shipbuilding. It usually attacks the heart, lungs, or stomach, spreading at an uncontrollable rate.

Is there more than one type of Mesothelioma?
Yes. There are three types. The most common is pleural which degrades the lining of the chest cavity and lungs. The next most common is peritoneal which attacks the membrane that we have inside our abdominal cavity. The most rare type is pericardial that can damage the sac surrounding the heart.

Is Mesothelioma a curable disease?
Unfortunately, scientists have not found a cure for mesothelioma.

Are there any treatment options?
There are treatments that can slow the progression of the disease in some cases, including chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or surgery. The late appearance of symptoms tends to lead to fewer treatment successes. The good news is that the medical community is vigorously working to improve treatments and to better understand this type of cancer.

Is exposure to asbestos the only cause of this disease?
Asbestos exposure is can be determined as the cause in up to 80% of mesothelioma cases, and is thought to be the cause of the remainder of cases as well, but it can't be proved. It is not the only condition that can come from exposure, however. There are other asbestos-related diseases that come from prolonged exposure or inhalation of the fibers too.

How much exposure is too much?
There is no perfect answer to this question. Generally because of the small size of the asbestos particle they can remain in the air, stick to clothes and be easily inhaled. Exposure does not necessarily affect everyone who comes into contact with it, though those who have had occupational exposure and their family members are at a greater risk than most others. The general accepted theory is that any exposure is too much.

Where is asbestos found?
Asbestos was used as a building material throughout much of the twentieth century, used in buildings and on ships because of it's heat- and fire-resistant properties, as well as it's strength and durability. It's found in fiber-board walls and insulation on pipes.

Because asbestos is found in more common minerals, the towns in which it's mined generally have much higher rates of mesothelioma, not only in the miners themselves but also in their families, who are exposed by as little contact as washing clothes together.

Is all asbestos bad?
Asbestos in a stable state is generally not very dangerous. It becomes dangerous when it's disturbed, so any renovations on old houses or buildings should include an asbestos check by trained professionals. If it's found, hire someone to remove it before beginning work.

When do symptoms appear?
This is one of the more tricky aspects of this disease. Symptoms can take years or even decades to appear. This latency makes litigation more difficult and treatment less effective. Usually, by the time mesothelioma is detected, treatment options are severely limited. If you have had exposure to asbestos in your lifetime, you should inform your physician.

If I am diagnosed with Mesothelioma should I call an attorney?
You should definitely consult with an attorney. There is no guarantee that there is a case to pursue but an attorney can ensure your rights are protected and that an investigation can begin. There are many attorneys that will take the case on a contingency basis and will receive no pay unless you win.


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