Asbestos exposure can cause serious conditions like asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma. Our law firm is working with some of the more experienced Asbestos Attorneys, who can file a mesothelioma lawsuit on your behalf, and there are no legal fees unless you receive a settlement or award. Call us today or submit an online contact form for your free legal consultation.
Asbestos is the name given to a group of minerals that occur naturally in the environment as bundles of fibers that can be separated into thin, durable threads. This material became very popular due to its natural resistance to heat, fire, and chemicals. The mining and commercial use of Asbestos has been popular for over a century now. Industries such as building, construction, ship making, and automotive have all used this material for various purposes including the following.
- Strengthening cement
- Sound absorption
- Ingredient in paints, coatings, and adhesives
Many people don't even know they have been exposed to this toxic metal. Others know they have had asbestos exposure but were never told of the potential danger to their health and welfare. During the twentieth century, some 30 million tons of asbestos were used in industrial sites, homes, schools, shipyards and commercial buildings in the United States. Many products containing this metal remain in buildings, ships, industrial facilities and other environments where the fibers can become airborne. It is even possible that a family member could have been exposed, because microscopic fibers on clothing can be released at home.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the EPA, and the International Agency for Research on Cancer have all classified asbestos as a known human carcinogen (substance that causes cancer). If a material/product which contains this metal is disturbed, small fibers may be released into the air. The problem is created when these fibers are inhaled and becomes trapped in the lungs. Over time, they build up causing inflammation and scarring, which can lead to serious respiratory problems and life threatening mesothelioma. It is important to note that not everyone exposed to asbestos is at a high risk for developing health complications. The truth of that matter is that everyone has some exposure to this substance throughout his or her lifetime. The people who face a true risk of developing serious health problems are those with repeated exposure to it.
Occupational asbestos exposure may occur in the following industries.
- Textile manufacturing
- Ship building
- Brake linings
- The removal of asbestos
Repeated exposure may increase the risk following conditions.
- Asbestosis: Asbestosis is the benign (non-cancerous) disease. It is mechanical damage to the lung caused by inhaling metal fibers. The fibers tend to irritate the lung tissue and cause inflammation. The condition may not surface for many years after inhaling these fibers, in many cases taking more than 20.
- Lung Cancer: Lung Cancer is one of the most common types of cancer. It has been found in those who have sustained prolonged exposure to asbestos. The time between exposure to toxins and the occurrence of lung cancer is often 20 or more. Additionally, it has been determined that smokers who are also exposed to asbestos are substantially more likely to develop lung cancer than those who are only exposed to one or the other.
- Mesothelioma: Mesothelioma is a cancerous tumor that is caused by asbestos exposure. It has a latency period of 20 to 50 years after the first exposure, meaning that even if you worked around the toxic metal 50 years ago, you could just be developing mesothelioma now. With today's workplace safety regulations, the risk of exposure is substantially lower.
- Other Asbestos diseases include Tuberculosis, inflammation of the tissue lining the lungs (pleurisy) and heart failure.
Asbestos, Lung Cancer, and Mesothelioma
Lung cancer is characterized by uncontrolled cell growth within the tissue of the lungs. Lung cancer currently is the 2nd most common form of cancer in the United States; with roughly 200,000 people diagnosed every year. Additionally, it is currently the number one cause of all cancer-related deaths in the U.S.
85 percent of lung cancer diagnoses are attributed to smoking. However, exposure to asbestos is also a large contributor to lung cancer causing Nearly 5,000 cancer deaths each year.
Two Major Types of Lung Cancer
Lung cancers are classified by how they manifest. These classifications are important as they relate to the rate at which the cancer spreads, the treatment options, and the survival rate/life expectancy of the patient. The two main classifications for lung cancer are non-small cell lung cancer and small cell lung cancer.
Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer
Non-Small cell lung cancer is the most common form of lung cancer. Roughly 80% of all cases of lung cancer are non-small cell. It has more and better treatment options than small cell. Therefore, the survival rate/life expectancy is much better than with small cell. According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), there are 3 common forms of non-small cell lung cancer.
- Adenocarcinoma: Found in an outer area of the lung. It makes up roughly 40% of lung cancer cases.
- Squamous cell carcinomas: Usually found in the center of the lung. Accounts for about 30% of lung cancers.
- Large cell carcinomas: Can occur in any part of the lung. Makes up close to 10% of all lung cancers.
The number one cause of non-small cell lung cancer is smoking. However, exposure to asbestos is also a major contributor. Symptoms of non-small cell lung cancer include.
- Coughing that does not go away
- Coughing up blood
- Chest Pain
- Loss of Appetite and Weight Loss
- Shortness of breath and wheezing
- Bone and/or joint pain
- Drooping eyelids
- Difficulty swallowing
- Nail problems
- Swelling of the face
- Shoulder pain/weakness
Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer has five stages, ranging from stage 0 (cancer has not spread beyond the inner lining of the lung) to stage IV (cancer has spread to other organs of the body such as the brain or liver). Treatment options include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. Life expectancy is much better with non-small cell than with small cell, with the expectancy rate depending on which stage the cancer is in.
Small Cell Lung Cancer
Small Cell Lung Cancer makes up about 15 % of lung cancers. It is a very fast-growing form of lung cancer, much faster than non-small cell. Small cell lung cancer is more common in men than women, and it is almost always attributed to smoking. The two different type of small cell lung cancer are small cell carcinoma and combined small cell carcinoma. Most small cell lung cancers are small cell carcinoma. The symptoms of small cell lung cancer include the following.
- Shortness of breath
- Loss of appetite/weight loss
- Chest pain
- Bloody phlegm
- Difficult Swallowing
The most common treatment is chemotherapy because of the quick spreading nature of this form of cancer. Radiation treatment along with chemotherapy is also used when the cancer has spread throughout the body. Often, surgery is not an option.
What is Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer in which malignant cells are found in the lining of the chest or abdomen. This disease is nearly always caused by the inhalation of asbestos fibers. These tiny fibers are inhaled through the mouth and nose and may eventually become trapped within the lungs causing severe health complications like mesothelioma. The most common site for the development of this disease is in the outer lining of the lungs and internal chest wall. However, it may also develop around the abdomen and heart.
Signs and Symptoms of Mesothelioma
Perhaps the most difficult characteristic of mesothelioma is that its signs and symptoms may not manifest, or appear, until 20 to 50 years after asbestos exposure. Common symptoms include shortness of breath, cough, and pain in the chest. Other signs and symptoms of mesothelioma include the following.
- Pleural effusion (fluid surrounding the lung)
- Anemia (lower than normal red blood cell count which can cause fatigue)
- Wheezing or cough
- Coughing up blood
- Abdominal pain
- A mass in the abdomen
- Weight loss
- Blood clots in the veins
- Pleural effusion
- Low blood sugar level
- Blood clots in the arteries of the lungs
Because the signs and symptoms are very similar to those of other conditions and illnesses, mesothelioma is very difficult to diagnose. A history of asbestos exposure may raise the physician’s likelihood to recognize this disease, so it’s important to disclose any relevant work history during which you may have been exposed. Generally, a biopsy (removal of tissue) is needed/used to diagnose the disease.
- Surgery: The most common form of surgery is removing the lining of the chest. However, research indicates that surgery alone has proven to be of limited success. Surgery is usually used in combination with chemotherapy and radiation.
- Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy appears to be the most successful form of treatment. It is known to be the only form of treatment for mesothelioma that improved patients’ survival rates in both randomized and controlled studies.
- Radiation: Often given in combination with surgery, as a post-operative consolidative treatment. However, radiation is difficult to tolerate and therefore is not used in many patients.
- Immunotherapy: Immunotherapy is an attempt to use the immune system to reject cancer. This is done either through a process that essentially trains the immune system to recognize tumor cells and destroy them, or through administering drugs that will try to seek out and destroy cancer cells.
There are currently about 3000 new cases of mesothelioma diagnosed per year, mostly in men over the age of 40. It is estimated that there will be about 250,000 cases of mesothelioma before 2020. The respiratory effects caused by exposure are irreversible. In relation to this, it is well known that smokers who have been exposed to asbestos are at an even more increased risk for respiratory problems than from either one by itself.
Do I Have An Asbestos & Mesothelioma Lawsuit?
Many asbestos manufacturers and distributors knew for decades that the material was toxic, yet made a business decision not to warn people of this hazard. As a result, you may have a right of recovery against those manufacturers. The relevant time for the statute of limitations in most states is 2 years after diagnosis, not 2 years after exposure. In both Massachusetts and Rhode Island, the relevant time period is 3 years after diagnosis.
Compensation from an asbestos lawsuit can help provide financial assistance for the costs of medical treatment and provide compensation for your pain and suffering. Your compensation will be determined by factors such as lost income, the laws in your state, and the parties responsible. Compensation for mesothelioma can vary from several thousand to several million dollars. Getting the highest possible compensation for your damages requires tough and experienced personal injury attorneys. If you suffer from asbestosis or mesothelioma, we can help. Our experienced injury lawyers and associated medical experts are ready to work for you to help you win a fair, efficient, and just award for your claim.
We hope that this brief discussion has given you some insight into some of the complexities involved in asbestosis or mesothelioma cases. Most importantly, if you believe that you or a loved one has become ill because of this toxic metal, you need a law firm that is experienced in handling these cases.
Do You Need Legal Advice Concerning Your Mesothelioma Injuries?
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure, then you may be entitled to compensation. You may be able to recover for you medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, or other losses. Our law firm work with experienced asbestos & mesothelioma lawyers, who can file a file a cancer lawsuit on your behalf and there are no legal fees unless you receive a settlement or award. Feel free to call us toll-free anytime or submit a contact form online.