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Why is it important to hire a mesothelioma law firm lawyer ? Malignant mesothelioma is an uncommon, but no longer rare, cancer that is difficult to diagnose and poorly responsive to therapy. Malignant mesothelioma is the most serious of all asbestos-related diseases. Find out now what your legal rights are find a lawyer above by typing your zip code.

A layer of specialized cells called mesothelial cells lines the chest cavity, abdominal cavity, and the cavity around the heart. These cells also cover the outer surface of most internal organs. The tissue formed by these cells is called mesothelium.

Mesothelium helps protect the organs by producing a special lubricating fluid that allows organs to move around. For example, this fluid makes it easier for the lungs to move inside the chest during breathing. The mesothelium of the chest is called the pleura and the mesothelium of the abdomen is known as the peritoneum. The mesothelium of the pericardial cavity (the "sac-like" space around the heart) is called the pericardium.

Tumors of the mesothelium can be benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous). A malignant tumor of the mesothelium is called a malignant mesothelioma. Because most mesothelial tumors are cancerous, malignant mesothelioma is often simply called mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma was recognized as a tumor of the pleura, peritoneum and pericardium in the late 1700's. However it was not until much later, in 1960, that this particular type of tumor was described in more detail and even more importantly, its association with asbestos exposure was recognized. The first report linking mesothelioma to asbestos exposure was written by J.C. Wagner, and described 32 cases of workers in the "Asbestos Hills" in South Africa. Since then, the relationship between mesothelioma and asbestos exposure has been confirmed in studies around the world.

The incidence of mesothelioma in the United States remains very low, with 14 cases occurring per million people per year. Despite these numbers, the noticed threefold increase in mesothelioma in males between 1970 and 1984, is directly associated with environmental and occupational exposure to asbestos, mostly in areas of asbestos product plants and shipbuilding facilities.

Although the disease is much more commonly seen in 60-year-old men, it has been described in women and early childhood as well. The cause of the disease is not so well understood in these latter two groups, but there is some evidence of possible asbestos exposure for some of these cases as well.

Malignant mesothelioma is divided into three main types. About 50% to 70% of mesothelioma occurrences are the epithelioid type. This type has the best prognosis (outlook for survival). The other two types are the sarcomatoid type (7%-20%), and the mixed/biphasic type (20%-35%). Treatment options for all three types are the same.

About three-fourths of mesothelioma occurrences start in the chest cavity and is known as pleural mesothelioma. Another 10% to 20% begin in the abdomen and is called peritoneal mesothelioma. Pericardial mesothelioma, starting in the cavity around the heart, is very rare. The covering layer of the testicles is actually an outpouching of peritoneum into the scrotum. Mesothelioma that affects this covering of the testicles is quite rare.

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More on Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma – Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that is found in the thin lining (membrane) of the lung, chest, abdomen, and heart and almost all cases are linked to exposure to asbestos. This disease may not show up until many years after asbestos exposure. This is why great efforts are being made to prevent school children from being exposed.

If you feel you may have been exposed to airborne asbestos fibers, you should consider consulting a physician with expertise in pulmonary abnormalities and contact our Mesothelioma Specialist Lawyers.

Mesothelioma Symptoms
Malignant mesothelioma may not become apparent until 20 to 30 years after the first exposure to asbestos. The symptoms of mesothelioma are not unique to the disease, and diagnosis can be difficult.

Symptoms of Pleural Mesothelioma
Symptoms of pleural mesothelioma may include, but are not limited to, the following:

shortness of breath (dyspnea) - hoarseness, difficulty swallowing, and/or coughing up of blood.


pleural effusion - a build up of too much fluid between the pleura (linings of the lungs and chest); a pleural effusion may cause chest pain and difficulty

breathing (dyspnea), however, many cause no symptoms and are first discovered during the physical examination or seen on a chest x-ray.
pain in the chest - may sometimes be felt in upper abdomen, shoulder, or arm.
Patients diagnosed with diffuse pleural mesothelioma exhibited the following

symptoms
(source: "Diffuse malignant mesothelioma of the pleura in Ontario and Quebec: a retrospective study of 332 patients." P Ruffie et al. Journal of Clinical Oncology Aug 1 1989: 1157-1168.) Symptom % exhibiting


Shortness of breath and/or chest pain 90%


Weight loss 29%


Cough, weakness, fever, loss of appetite 3%


Hemoptysis (coughing up blood), hoarseness, dysphagia (difficulty swallowing), Horner's syndrome less than 1%


Pleural Effusions 84%
Asymptomatic 3%

Symptoms of Peritoneal Mesothelioma
Symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma may include, but are not limited to, the following:

-weight loss - but waist may increase in size.
-pain or swelling in the abdomen - fluid retention or tumor growth.
- bowel obstuction - blockage in the small or large intenstine.
-anemia - a reduction in the number of red blood cells to below normal; this forces the heart and other organs to work harder to get oxygen where it's needed.
-fever
These symptoms can accompany many other, less serious medical conditions; if you are experiencing any of these symptoms, and have been exposed to asbestos, you should see a doctor immediately. Asbestos exposure may have taken place 20, 30, even 50 years prior to symptoms appearing, but is a major risk factor; exposure is reported in between 70-80% of all mesothelioma cases.

Contact our Liability Lawyers to explore your legal rights.


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Commonly Used Acronyms

ACBM - Asbestos Containing Building Material
ACM - Asbestos Containing Material
AHERA - Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act
AMP - Asbestos Management Plan
CFR - Code of Federal Regulations
EPA - Environmental Protection Agency
FR - Federal Register
LEA - Local Education Agency
NDAAC - National Directory of AHERA Accredited Courses

 

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Mesothelioma Questions and Answers
From the Cancer Facts section of the National Cancer Institute.

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