Mesothelioma “Asbestos Exposure”
Serving Cook and DuPage Counties

History of Asbestos

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that was used in industry and office and residential construction in the twentieth century. Asbestos is responsible for many types of cancer, including the worst variety: mesothelioma. Contact with asbestos can be fatal: microscopic mineral particles are made of thin fibers that are easily transported by air. Getting these fibers into human airways can lead to the implantation of asbestos material in the lungs.

Over time, this can cause serious illness. The beneficial properties of asbestos have been known for centuries. Unfortunately, the danger associated with it was evident for as long. Asbestos has become popular as a building material and as a fiber for the production of fireproof clothes. In the history of asbestos exploitation, its fibers became a popular insulation material in 1860 in the United States and Canada. Beginning in 1878, when the first asbestos mine appeared in North America, many of them appeared around the world.

Where is Asbestos Commonly Found?

  • Coffins
  • Fireproof coatings
  • Concrete
  • Bricks
  • tubing
  • Cement
  • Pipe insulation
  • Fireproof drywall
  • Floor panels
  • Roof coverings
  • Filling compound
  • and other

Although asbestos is known as a human carcinogen, it is legally marketed in many countries around the world. The greatest use of asbestos took place from the late 1930s to the late 1970s, but the effects of its use, then and now, still put many families in danger. A historical record of an asbestos-related death occurred in 1924. British Nellie Kershaw developed asbestosis, which the woman subsequently died of. Although the links between asbestos and fatal diseases were definitively confirmed in the early 1930s, it was still widely used.

Members of the United States Navy often had contact with asbestos during the construction of ships for World War II. The largest producers, like Johns-Manville, continued to use this mineral, despite the known harmful effects. When claims for compensation for the harmful effects of asbestos began to increase in the early 1970s, the use of asbestos gradually began to decline, but asbestos continued to exist in thousands of everyday products.

In 1991, some asbestos products were banned in the US, but asbestos was still allowed. The World Health Organization (WHO) officially recognized mesothelioma as asbestos in 1994. Despite this, asbestos has still not been banned in the United States and is still in use.

Asbestos Exposure and Health Risks

Contact with asbestos is a leading cause of malignant mesothelioma (a form of lung cancer). While asbestos has been banned in many countries, some asbestos products are still allowed in the US. There is no level of safe contact with asbestos and exposure is the main risk factor for mesothelioma, but there are other causes. Smoking is not directly related to mesothelioma, but it is a significant factor that increases the likelihood of a disease developing faster. Exposure to radiation is another secondary factor.

Every year, nearly 3,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with mesothelioma. Almost all cases of malignant mesothelioma are associated with asbestos. Mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer caused by contact with asbestos that attacks a thin coating called the epithelium that surrounds and protects important organs such as the lungs, chest, abdomen, and heart. Tumor mesothelioma cells quickly metastasize to other parts of the body.

Types of mesothelioma include:

  • Pleural Mesothelioma: Pleural tissue is a thin membrane located between the lungs and the chest. Pleural mesothelioma develops in pleural tissue, but can rapidly spread to the outer chest, abdomen, and heart. Patients usually complain of permanent chest pain, weight loss, and fever. Sometimes the symptoms are more severe and contain breathing problems due to fluid build-up in the lungs. A chest CT scan proved to be the best way to assess how far the disease is. Pleural mesothelioma usually leads to death within one year of diagnosis. However, understanding and recognizing key pathogens, such as contact with asbestos, usually leads to early detection of cancer.
  • Peritoneal Mesothelioma: A type of cancer that develops in the abdomen and often spreads to other organs in this area, including the liver, spleen, and intestines. The most common complaint is severe stomach ache, which affects patients first. There may also be an accumulation of fluid in the abdomen. Other symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma are intestinal disorders, nausea, vomiting, fever, and swelling of the feet.
  • Pericardial Mesothelioma: The rarest form of mesothelioma and as the name suggests, it has to do with the heart. This rare type of cancer attacks the pericardium, the sack surrounding the heart. With the development of cancer, the heart is unable to supply oxygen to the rest of the body causing a very rapid deterioration of health. Symptoms of pericardial mesothelioma resemble a heart attack: nausea, chest pain, and difficulty breathing. The life expectancy since the above symptoms is about ten months.

Symptoms of Mesothelioma

Early signs of mesothelioma can easily be mistaken for everyday ailments. These may include fatigue, cough, muscle weakness, fever, and night sweats. They are often neglected, omitted, and misdiagnosed. While patients can function without a diagnosis for up to six months, usually the diagnosis is made two or three months after the onset of symptoms. Other symptoms include:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Pleural effusion
  • Anemia
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Coughing blood
  • Intestinal embolism
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Blood clots
  • Chest pains
  • Pericardial effusion
  • Weight loss

Mesothelioma Diagnosis

Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that is difficult to diagnose. The first step is access to a full medical history to determine the level and severity of risk factors. If pleural mesothelioma is suspected, the doctor will look for fluid in the chest, peritoneal mesothelioma often shows an accumulation of fluid in the abdomen, and in pericardial mesothelioma, there is fluid around the heart. Other methods of diagnosing mesothelioma are as follows:

  • PET scan – Positron emission tomography, more commonly known as PET scan, is a diagnostic method of nuclear medicine. A small amount of radioactive material is introduced into the body (intravenously in this case) to help doctors assess the body’s functioning. A PET scan in patients with mesothelioma is often performed along with a CT scan. A PET scan can be particularly helpful in determining whether there is tumor metastasis.
  • CT scan – computed tomography is often used to localize the tumor in the body and to assess the development of the disease. Doctors often recommend a CT scan if they suspect the existence of mesothelioma because this method is more accurate than an x-ray. Computed tomography gives a picture cross-section through internal organs reconstructed on a computer monitor.
  • MRI – magnetic resonance imaging, often called MRI, is a non-invasive method of diagnosing mesothelioma in the body. MRI uses magnetic fields and radio signals to transmit them to a computer. The traditional MRI device consists of a tube in which the patient lies. MRI does not pose a threat to patients, however, some may feel uncomfortable in a small confined space. These patients may receive a mild sedative that allows them to calm down during the procedure.
  • X-rays – are a commonly used mechanism not only for diagnosing cancer but for respiratory disorders, including bronchitis and pneumonia. Because the symptoms of the airway disorder are very similar to malignant mesothelioma, X-ray is the first imaging technique to diagnose this disease. X-rays are particularly useful for diagnosing the degree of fluid spread in the lung, a symptom of mesothelioma known as pleural effusion. If exudate is detected in the lung cavity, doctors often recommend a surgical biopsy to detect malignant mesothelioma cells.
  • Biopsies – biopsy is an important diagnostic procedure recommended by doctors to patients with symptoms of mesothelioma who have been in contact with asbestos. aspiration biopsy (FNA) can be performed, which is a less invasive type of biopsy. An FNA biopsy can be done on cancerous pleural lesions or you can extract the fluid with a syringe and then check it for the presence of malignant cells. As soon as the presence of malignant cells is found, specialists will determine the degree of malignancy and the presence of mesothelioma. However, the absence of cancer cells in the fluid being collected is not unusual, even if cancer is present.
  • Needle biopsy – is considered a less invasive biopsy procedure. It is usually recommended to take a larger sample of cancerous tissue from patients suspected of having mesothelioma (spinal biopsy). This can be done with the help of a CT scanner from outside the chest or sometimes through a small surgical procedure such as video-assisted chest surgery (VATS), in which the surgeon uses a small surgical tool with a camera and a biopsy tool to look inside the chest along the pleural surface (pleuroscopy) in the least invasive way. This method is helpful and sometimes necessary because the surgeon can directly biopsy the knots or tumors for diagnosis.
  • Surgical biopsy – is a more extensive procedure than a needle biopsy. These procedures are sometimes carried out to give a definitive diagnosis of mesothelioma. A surgical biopsy can be useful if a diagnosis has already been made. When cancer is advanced, therapy may be prescribed based on the best possible scenario for the individual patient.

Mesothelioma Treatment

There are four basic types of mesothelioma treatment: surgical, chemotherapy, radiation, and as part of multi-modal therapy. The types of therapy received depend on the diagnosis, the stage of mesothelioma, and the general state of health. If there is no metastasis, a combination of irradiation, surgery, and chemotherapy is offered. This is called a multi-modal approach. If mesothelioma already has significant metastases, the type of therapy will be rather analgesic, that is, it will focus on symptoms to ensure the highest possible quality of life. Radiation and chemotherapy are still an option, but surgery is unlikely.

Prognosis for Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma has a long latency period with symptoms not occurring for 10, 20, or even 40 years after contact with asbestos. When they do appear, mesothelioma develops rapidly. According to the American Cancer Society, many victims die within two years of diagnosis. Mesothelioma is incurable.

Filing a Mesothelioma Lawsuit

The diagnosis of malignant mesothelioma can be devastating. If you or someone close to you has been diagnosed with mesothelioma or other asbestos-related illness due to the negligence of your employer or producer, you have the right to sue for asbestos compensation. We hope that this site will help you begin to understand these diseases. We also highly recommend consulting a doctor or contacting a mesothelioma research facility, which can provide you with more detailed information about your person. Find out how to file a claim for asbestos exposure by arranging for a free consultation with our mesothelioma lawyers in Chicago.

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