Mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer that occurs in the thin protective layer of tissue lining important internal organs such as the heart and lungs. It is caused by exposure to asbestos, usually at the workplace, and can take as long as 10 to 50 years to develop after the first exposure to asbestos. When individuals are exposed to asbestos, the fibers work their way through the lungs and into the lining surrounding internal organs eventually causing cancer. This membrane surrounding these vital organs is called the mesothelium, thus the name mesothelioma.
High rates of mesothelioma occur in people who mine asbestos, manufacture asbestos products, work with asbestos products, live with asbestos workers,or work in buildings or homes containing asbestos.
The diagnosis of mesothelioma is usually made by a chest X-ray or High Resolution Computerized Tomography (HRCT), and is usually confirmed by a pathologist either examining fluid or by a tissue biopsy. Diagnosis usually occurs after the age of 65 and most deaths occur around age 70. The disease was rare before the commercial use of asbestos and is still an extremely rare form of cancer.
Mesothelioma accounts for less than 1% of all cancers in the United States. Mesothelioma typically occurs in men more than women. The majority being men over the age 60 who served in the military or worked in construction. However, anyone exposed to asbestos could be at risk for developing the disease.
The time of an individual’s initial exposure to asbestos until the development of mesothelioma, lung cancer, or asbestosis is typically around 10 to 50 years later. This concept is known as latency. The significance of latency is that individuals who were frequently exposed to asbestos don't develop mesothelioma until decades later in their life.
There are four types of mesothelioma: pleural (lungs), peritoneal (abdomen), pericardial (heart), and testicular. In addition, mesothelioma can be categorized based on cell type – epithelioid, sarcomatoid, or biphasic – and according to which cells are affected.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease, contact us today to learn about the legal options available to you.
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