Mesothelioma – The Causes And Consequences Of Exposure

Asbestos Hazard

Why Mesothelioma is the Deadliest of All Cancers

The common cause of mesothelioma is being exposed to asbestos while at work. Mesothelioma is especially prevalent in people who worked in heating and construction businesses and on the railroads. Specifically, it is exposure to asbestos fibers or particles of asbestos which are inhaled into the lungs.

Why are workers in these industries particularly affected?

Because these industries forced workers to be exposed to high levels of asbestos, either due to ignorance or deliberate disregard for worker safety. However, persistent direct exposure to asbestos is not the only way to develop mesothelioma. In fact, mesothelioma has developed in individuals who were only exposed to asbestos for a brief period or intermittently. For example, people were exposed to asbestos while walking by factories, ship building yards, and asbestos mines and mills. Other people were exposed because their spouse worked around asbestos and came home covered in asbestos fibers.

Symptoms of Mesothelioma

Symptoms of mesothelioma routinely don’t arise for decades. In fact, someone exposed to asbestos may not be diagnosed with mesothelioma until 30 years later. It is this latency which makes mesothelioma so deadly, as by the time symptoms present themselves it is very frequently far too late to effectively treat the disease. This is why victims have such a short life expectancy after diagnosis, for some only a few weeks and for far too many less than one year of life.

Mesothelioma is not linked to smoking cigarettes, though asbestos exposure may lead to other bronchial and pulmonary conditions beyond mesothelioma.

What are the symptoms?

asbestosWell, breathing problems are quite common, including shortness of breath and coughing. Weight loss coupled with persistent abdominal pain and bowel issues are also symptoms. What causes further problems is that all of these symptoms can easily be mistaken for many other, more common ailments which have far less serious consequences for those who do contract them. This helps to make mesothelioma a commonly misdiagnosed condition, delaying effective treatment even further, and shortening life expectancy even further, too.

Diagnosis and Survival Rates

The consequences of a mesothelioma diagnosis are devastating – more than half of people who are diagnosed with mesothelioma wind up dying within 18 months. Only about 20 percent of mesothelioma sufferers live five years or longer. It is one of the most deadly forms of cancer on the planet.

Treatment procedures for mesothelioma are largely ineffective at curing the disease, or placing it into remission. While more research is being conducted into the disease, the level of funding for developing an effective cure is woefully inadequate. This leaves patients with the extremely sad decision-making process for selecting the most appropriate palliative care and taking care of their affairs.

What is further distressing about mesothelioma is that it is almost entirely an artificially created disease. That is, if asbestos exposure was eliminated, then the disease would not arise in a very, very large majority of cases. While the disease may take 30 years or more to present itself, issues regarding asbestos and its impact on health have been known for much longer, and yet workers have needlessly and irresponsibly continued to be exposed to asbestos fibers. This has led to mesothelioma litigation producing some of the largest personal injury and wrongful death settlements in our courts today.

Author Patrick Austin is a litigation lawyer with Shapiro, Lewis, Appleton & Favaloro who specialize in mesothelioma cases.

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