Malignant mesothelioma is a type of cancer that attacks the protective lining of the lungs, abdomen, heart, and testicles.  This protective lining is called the mesothelium. In later stages of the disease, the organs themselves may become damaged.

The mesothelium serves a critical function in providing lubrication that helps internal organs to move. A prime example involves the lungs. This lubrication makes it possible for your lungs to expand and contract, allowing you to breathe comfortably.

Depending on its specific location in the body, the mesothelium is called by different names. The likelihood of having cancer in each area varies greatly:

  • Pleural mesothelioma: lung and chest areas, 75%
  • Peritoneal mesothelioma: abdominal cavity and organs,  25%
  • Pericardial mesothelioma: heart and heart cavity, rare
  • Tunica vaginalis testis: testicles, extremely rare

Cancerous mesotheliomas may be further categorized into three primary types depending on the specific arrangement of the cells and the percent of cases that have each type:

  • Sarcomatoid: fastest spreading, 10-20%
  • Epithelioid: slower spreading, 50-60%
  • Biphasic (mixed): both types of cells are present, 30%-40%

Symptoms of Mesothelioma of the Lungs or Abdomen

There are a wide range of symptoms that may take years to appear:

  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Painful coughing
  • Swelling of the neck or face
  • Pain under the rib cage or chest pain
  • Unexpected or unusual weight loss

Asbestosis

Asbestosis is a degenerative, but nonmalignant, chronic lung disease caused by asbestos. It can lead to lung cancer and lung or heart failure. Unfortunately, there is no cure.

Asbestosis is caused by the formation of scar tissue in the lungs. The scar tissue develops after a person has been exposed to asbestos for many years, sometimes 20 years or more, and has inhaled its fibers.

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The severity of the disease generally depends on how long someone was exposed to asbestos and the amount of asbestos that person breathed in.

Most people who have been diagnosed with asbestosis acquired it in the workplace before the 1970s, when the government began restricting the use of asbestos. Prior to that time, manufacturers used it widely as an insulator and fire retardant, particularly in asbestos mining and milling industries, construction and fireproofing. You could also find asbestos in paper products, plastics, cement, floor and ceiling tiles, crayons and toasters.

Asbestos Is a Naturally Occurring Carcinogen

You can find asbestos in our natural environment as part of the soil and rocks. Its fibers are heat and fire resistant, as well as resistant to corrosion. Undisturbed, asbestos poses few direct risks.

When disturbed, however, such as during excavation, building and home demolition and construction, and product manufacture, asbestos is lethal. Today, asbestos is a well-recognized health hazard and known human carcinogen.

Unfortunately, asbestos is still in use today. You can find it in products used in home and building construction as well as the automotive industry.

How Does Asbestos Cause Asbestosis?

Asbestos consists of tiny fibers. If disturbed, they are released into the air and float like dust particles. When you breathe in these fibers, some settle deep in your lungs, where they may remain for your lifetime.

The more particles you breathe in, the greater the chances your lungs will react by forming scar tissue. Over time and continued exposure, scar tissue builds up.

This scar tissue interferes with breathing. The lung tissues and the lining of the chest wall also thicken and harden. Both disrupt your body’s ability to take in oxygen, causing shortness of breath and difficulty breathing.

Other Common Symptoms of Asbestosis

There are other symptoms that indicate you may be ill with asbestosis. These include:

  • Chronic cough that produces mucus
  • Dry, hacking cough
  • Damaged respiratory function
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Chest pain
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss

Are you experiencing symptoms associated with asbestosis? If so, you may be entitled to compensation.

Lung cancer

Lung cancer is a type of malignant tumor that originates in the lungs. This disease leads to the deaths of approximately 160,000 people each year in the U.S. Although smoking is recognized as the most common cause of lung cancer, working with or being near certain hazardous materials can be just as lethal. Asbestos is one such carcinogen and it can cause asbestos lung cancer. In the U.S., this type of cancer claims nearly 5,000 lives annually.

What Is Asbestos?

Occurring naturally in the environment in soil and rocks, asbestos is a group of minerals that are resistant to heat and fire and do not conduct electricity. Because of this, manufacturers began incorporating asbestos on a massive scale into products in the late 1800s. Asbestos products were used to insulate everything from factories to schools, homes, and ships. You could also find asbestos in automobile parts, roofing shingles, ceiling and floor tiles, and cement.

Government Recognizes Link Between Asbestos and Lung Cancer

The U.S. government agencies recognized the direct link between asbestos and lung cancer years ago, and banned many uses of asbestos. However, you can still find asbestos in automotive products and in materials used in home building and construction, as well as in older buildings and water pipes. In fact, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration has estimated that more than a million employees in construction and other trades continue to face significant asbestos – exposure on the job.

How You Can Be Exposed

People are exposed to asbestos primarily by inhaling fibers in an environment where asbestos has been disturbed, such as when mining and processing asbestos, making products that contain it, or installing asbestos insulation. Asbestos fibers can also be disturbed when older buildings are demolished or renovated.

In addition, asbestos fibers can be swallowed, such as in drinking water that has flowed through asbestos cement pipes. Family members of workers who are exposed to asbestos through their jobs can experience secondhand exposure from that person’s clothing or skin.

Lung Cancer Advances Without Warning

One reason lung cancer is so deadly is that it is hard to detect in its early stages.  There may be no symptoms at first.

Unfortunately, by the time someone has developed symptoms, the cancer may have reached advanced stages. In fact, most cases of lung cancer in asbestos workers can be traced back 15 years or more to a person’s initial exposure.

Possible Signs of Lung Cancer

There are typically physical symptoms apparent if you have lung cancer. These include: Eventually, the typical physical symptoms of asbestos lung cancer may appear and include:

New, chronic cough

Changes in a chronic cough

Coughing up blood

Shortness of breath

Chest pain

Unexpected and unusual weight loss

Repeated bouts of pneumonia or bronchitis

Have you been experiencing any of these known symptoms of lung cancer and believe asbestos is to blame? If so, you may be entitled to compensation.