Symptoms and Life Expectancy of Those Diagnosed With Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma is an aggressive form of cancer linked to exposure to asbestos. Asbestos is a mineral that was mined in the early and middle part of the twentieth century and used in industries ranging from automotive to the aerospace sector. Asbestos was also widely used in buildings because it was resistant to flame and to heat.
In the late nineteenth century, it was discovered that asbestos can cause a form of cancer known as mesothelioma. Despite this, asbestos continued to be used and not all workplaces used proper techniques and precautions to keep employees from getting exposed to this mineral.
How Patients Get Mesothelioma
With many forms of cancer, there is no clear known cause. There may be contributing factors, such as genetics, but there is no real reason to explain why a patient gets cancer. This is not the case with mesothelioma. This form of cancer is caused by exposure to asbestos.
Patients can get mesothelioma when asbestos is in the form of fine particulates. This usually occurs during construction, repairs to buildings or manufacturing processes. If proper caution is not taken, workers and others can breathe in or ingest the fine asbestos powder — over time, this can lead to mesothelioma. Mesothelioma can also occur if workers have asbestos on their clothing and it is ingested or breathed in by others.
Asbestos exposure can occur at work, but also in other ways. Some industrial workers unintentionally exposed their families to risk when they came home from work with asbestos powder on their clothes. Those who washed the clothing or who hugged their loved ones coming home from work could later develop mesothelioma. In addition, it’s not always simple to tell what materials have asbestos. Homeowners may accidentally ingest asbestos if they renovate their home without realizing their home has asbestos materials. Children have been exposed to asbestos in schools.
Asbestos that’s untouched and in good repair is a lower risk. The risk occurs when it’s sanded or crumbled during manufacturing or renovations. It can also be a risk if it deteriorates over time and produces small enough powder or particulates to be breathed in.
Symptoms of Mesothelioma
The symptoms of mesothelioma take decades to develop. From the time of exposure to first symptoms, it can take 20, 30 or even 50 years for a patient to notice anything unusual. In addition, it can take some time for a proper diagnosis to be reached. Since mesothelioma is a relatively rare form of cancer and symptoms are general, this cancer can be mistaken for another medical condition at first.
Patients with mesothelioma experience many symptoms, but the most common include:
- Chest pains or pain in the lower back
- Difficulty breathing
- Difficulty swallowing
- Sweating and fever
- Hoarse voice
- Anemia — especially in women
- Fluid buildup in the abdomen or lungs
- Weight loss
- Pain and swelling in the abdomen
- Swelling of the arms and face
Treatment and Life Expectancy
Once mesothelioma is diagnosed, it’s treated according to the stage of cancer. There are four stages of mesothelioma:
- Stage One: Located only in one part of the body
- Stage Two: Located in a tumor and has spread to a few nearby lymph nodes or other nearby areas
- Stage Three: Has spread to multiple nearby locations and lymph nodes
- Stage Four: Has spread to other organs of the body, lymph nodes and multiple areas of the body
If mesothelioma is detected early and a patient has stage one or two mesothelioma, treatment usually involves chemotherapy, radiation, surgery or a combination of them. Doctors will consult to determine which treatment course is most appropriate and adjust the plan based on how the mesothelioma responds. If a patient doesn’t respond to treatment, there may be experimental treatments available, as well. In stage one and two, treatment options can extend life expectancy, sometimes significantly, for patients.
If the cancer is not caught early and a patient has stage three or four mesothelioma, doctors usually recommend palliative care. The life expectancy for mesothelioma is not long, due in part to the aggressiveness of the cancer and the difficulty of catching it early. Patients who are diagnosed with mesothelioma have a median survival rate of between 12 and 21 months, depending on how early the cancer is caught, according to the American Cancer Society. The same source reports this cancer has a relative 5-year survival rate of 5 to 10%. However, some patients survive much longer, and new treatment options are being developed all the time that could help future patients.
What to Do If You Have Been Diagnosed
A diagnosis of mesothelioma is very frightening, and you’ll want to contact an asbestos cancer attorney in New Orleans if you’ve been diagnosed. The treatment for this form of cancer is expensive and may leave you unable to work. In addition, this form of cancer may be caused by the negligence of employers, manufacturers or other liable parties. You may have a claim which allows you to pursue damages, so you can pay for treatment and medical support.
Asbestos mesothelioma lawyers can find liable parties in your case, strengthen your case and help you pursue a claim. A mesothelioma cancer lawyer can also give you peace of mind by pursuing the claim for you, so you can focus on your treatment and health.
If you’d like to talk to a mesothelioma asbestos lawyer, reach out to Irpino, Avin & Hawkins Law Firm. We can meet with you for a free consultation to see if you have a case. Our offices serve New Orleans and the surrounding area, and our legal team can answer your questions and assess your situation. Our attorneys have decades of experience with asbestos and class action lawsuits, and we always treat clients with the utmost respect and individual attention. You can be sure you’re in good hands with us.