The time after a mesothelioma diagnosis can often be confusing and uncertain. Our firm is here to provide you with the support, guidance, and information you need, including the answers to common questions about asbestos exposure and mesothelioma.
What is asbestos?
Asbestos is a general name for a group of several minerals made of long, thin fibers. These minerals work well as insulators, and are also highly fire-resistant, which led to their prolific use as building materials for insulation, fireproofing, and soundproofing up until the late 1970s
What is mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is a specific form of cancer that afflicts the mesothelium, a tissue that lines the organs of the body. There are several common forms of mesothelioma pleural, which affects the lungs; peritoneal, which affects the abdomen; and pericardial, which affects the heart. Of these types, pleural mesothelioma is the most common type, and accounts for about 75 percent of all mesothelioma cases.
Is mesothelioma different than lung cancer?
Yes, the two diseases are different. Lung cancer involves tumor growth on the lungs, while pleural mesothelioma is the growth of tumors on the lining around the lungs. This distinction is particularly important because a variety of factors can cause lung cancer, while only asbestos exposure can cause mesothelioma.
What if I am a smoker?
While smoking can cause lung cancer and other respiratory problems by itself, it cannot cause mesothelioma on its own. The only known cause of mesothelioma is asbestos exposure. But, smoking can exacerbate asbestosis, and make mesothelioma more likely to develop.
How does asbestos cause mesothelioma?
Asbestos fibers cause mesothelioma by irritating the membrane around the lungs. This happens when people suffer exposure to asbestos and inhale the fibers. These fibers lodge themselves in the lungs, where they stay for the rest of a person’s life. Once inhaled, the fibers cause asbestosis, the irritation and scarring of the lung’s lining. Eventually, this irritation and scarring can promote the development of tumors, and lead to mesothelioma.
Can exposure to asbestos cause other health problems?
Yes, asbestos exposure can cause a variety of other health problems beyond mesothelioma. It can also cause lung cancer, asbestosis, and other respiratory conditions.
What are the signs and symptoms of mesothelioma?
Many people who suffer from mesothelioma have difficulty detecting the disease because the symptoms of mesothelioma often resemble less serious illnesses. Symptoms can include shortness of breath, extreme fatigue, coughing, weight loss, fluid in the chest, chest pain, or difficulty swallowing. Mesothelioma can be even more difficult to detect because symptoms often take between 20 to 50 years to develop after exposure to asbestos.
How could I have been exposed to asbestos?
The most common way that people suffer asbestos exposure is through their jobs. Cases of mesothelioma arise most commonly in industries involving asbestos use like construction and shipbuilding. However, exposure is possible in other industries if it happened to bring you into contact with asbestos. Furthermore, asbestos can easily cling to clothes and hair, meaning that the family members of people who worked with asbestos may also have been exposed to the substance.