The people who come to us for help have suffered for days, weeks, months or even years before they finally reached out. We represent the victims of mesothelioma caused by asbestos exposure, as well as the victims of defective medical devices, unsafe medications, negligent medical care, car accidents and other personal injuries. In most cases, our clients delayed because they didn’t have the information, they needed to confidently choose a lawyer.
What Is Mesothelioma?
In basic medical terms, mesothelioma is a rare cancer in which cells of the mesothelium (a membrane that covers and protects most of the internal organs of the body) become abnormal and malignant.
How rare is the disease? About 2,000 new cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed in the United States each year.
Which type of mesothelioma or asbestos cancer have you been diagnosed with? Although it is technically a single membrane, parts of the mesothelium have been given different names in relation to the internal organs they surround. For instance, the membrane surrounding the abdominal cavity is called the peritoneum; the part surrounding the lungs and lines the wall of the chest cavity, the pleura; and the part of the membrane that covers and protects the heart is known as the pericardium.
Mesothelioma cancers associated with these parts of the membrane include:
- Pleural mesothelioma (the most common diagnosis)
- Peritoneal mesothelioma (a rarer form)
- Pericardial mesothelioma (very rare)
- Testicular mesothelioma (very rare)
What are the medical options for treatment? Diagnosis and treatment of mesothelioma may vary depending on the type, its aggressiveness and other factors. However, a combination of surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy and clinical trials is used in most cases.
There are two reasons why: One, mesothelioma symptoms and other asbestos-related diseases are similar to many other conditions; and two, the abnormal cancer cells divide without order and migrate from one part of the mesothelium to another with relative ease. In other words, the disease is usually well-established by the time it is diagnosed.
What Causes Mesothelioma?
The most common cause of mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos. Asbestos exposure is usually due to working directly with asbestos-laden products, working in an environment with a high risk of asbestos exposure or living with someone who carried asbestos fibers into the home on his or her work clothes.
Asbestos is the term for six different, naturally occurring mineral fibers:
- Grunerite (amosite)
- Riebeckite (crocidolite)
Because these fibers can separate so easily into fibers hundreds of times thinner than human hair, they can easily invade the lungs. Over time, usually decades, these fibers collect, leading to serious illness such as mesothelioma.
How Much Asbestos Exposure Causes Mesothelioma?
There is no magic number or amount of asbestos exposure that will lead to mesothelioma. Every person reacts differently to asbestos. Some individuals may be exposed for prolonged periods of time and never develop health problems, while others may have had a few months of exposure and develop mesothelioma. The key is to remember that any amount of asbestos exposure can possibly cause someone to develop mesothelioma.
Here are some symptoms of mesothelioma to watch out for:
- Shortness of breath
- Difficulty breathing
- Severe coughing
- Coughing up blood
- Chest pain/lower back pain
- Rapid weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Impaired bowel function
- Abdominal bloating
- Chronic fatigue
How Long Does It Take to Develop Mesothelioma?
The answer is a long time. Mesothelioma does not occur overnight, within a week, a month or even a few years (although there have been isolated cases, such as the workers after the World Trade Center attacks on 9/11, where some people were diagnosed within five years). Mesothelioma usually takes decades to develop — between 20 and 50 years. This is one of the reasons why mesothelioma is so aggressive and deadly. By the time a patient has developed mesothelioma, he or she is usually older in age, may have other pre-existing health conditions and is diagnosed at an advanced stage of the disease.
Mesothelioma is a disease that usually develops over many years. It is commonly caused by exposure to asbestos. Asbestos was commonly used in products widely used in residential, commercial and industrial settings, particularly in insulation, electrical and construction-related products. Asbestos encompasses six different, naturally occurring mineral fibers. These fibers can separate very easily and may be hundreds of times thinner than a human hair. This allows asbestos fibers to become airborne quite easily. Once these thin asbestos fibers become airborne, they can be inhaled or ingested invading the lungs or other organs of the body. Many people were exposed consistently over a period of time, allowing the fibers to collect and lead to serious illnesses such as lung cancer and mesothelioma.
Products that often contain asbestos include:
- Molding clay
- Adhesives/bonding agents
- Ceiling tile
- Coffee makers
What Are My Options If I’ve Been Diagnosed with Mesothelioma?
While mesothelioma is often diagnosed at advanced stages of the disease, there are many treatment options. Remember, every case is different, and it is important you consult with your treating physician. General treatment options include:
- Surgery (palliative or curative)
- Photodynamic therapy
- Gene therapy
- Holistic/alternative medicine
More than one treatment is often used, called a combination therapy. There are also clinical trials available for eligible candidates. The important thing is to understand your options in order to make an informed decision. Discover more information about some of the leading treatment centers in the U.S. for mesothelioma.
What Is the Difference Between Lung Cancer and Mesothelioma?
The short answer is that while both lung cancer and mesothelioma affect the lungs, they do so in different ways.
Lung cancer generally involves cancerous tumors or masses within the lung itself, while mesothelioma is a disease that affects the cells of the mesothelium. The mesothelium is a membrane that covers and protects the internal organs of the body such as the heart, lungs, kidneys, stomach, liver and pancreas. Mesothelioma can affect various parts of the body. However, the most commonly affected part of the body is the pleura, a sac surrounding the lungs containing the mesothelium. When this part of the body is affected, it is called pleural mesothelioma. While pleural mesothelioma is the most common form, there are other types of mesothelioma (while lung cancer is exclusively affecting the lungs) such as:
- Peritoneal mesothelioma (a rarer form)
- Pericardial mesothelioma (very rare)
- Testicular mesothelioma (very rare)
Another major difference between mesothelioma and lung cancer is how the disease affects healthy cells. Mesothelioma is a diffuse malignancy, meaning the separation between healthy tissue and cancerous tissue is very blurry. This is why mesothelioma is so difficult to treat. Lung cancer generally involves isolated cancerous tumors or masses within the organ, and hence chemotherapy, radiation and surgery (removal of tumors) are more effective, since there are targeting “masses.”
However, both lung cancer and mesothelioma share something in common because both can be caused by exposure to asbestos.
What Is the Lifespan for Someone with Mesothelioma?
Unfortunately, there is no one answer to this question because every individual case is different. Often this depends upon when a person’s mesothelioma was diagnosed, and the part of the body affected by the mesothelioma. Sadly, mesothelioma is rarely diagnosed in the early stages of the disease. Because mesothelioma is usually diagnosed in later stages, treatment strategies tend to be focused more on improving quality of life rather than defeating the disease.
However, this does not mean anyone affected by mesothelioma should give up. Today more and more people diagnosed with mesothelioma are living longer and with a better quality of life than those diagnosed with this terrible disease did in the past.
Remember, every case is different and there are a number of factors that determine a patient’s prognosis. These factors include:
- Stage of the disease at the time of the initial diagnosis
- Particular type of mesothelioma and organs affected
- Pre-existing health conditions
- Operability of any tumors
Can Mesothelioma Be Cured?
Sadly, mesothelioma is a very aggressive form of cancer and one that is often diagnosed at an advanced stage of the disease. Generally, the prognosis for a person diagnosed with mesothelioma is not good and a cure is not possible. Because of this, people diagnosed with the disease and their families often focus on prolonging a person’s lifespan while maintaining a good quality of life.
Anxiety, grief and anger are all normal reactions. Fortunately, as medicine advances, so do the treatment options for mesothelioma. People diagnosed with mesothelioma or affected by this terrible disease should examine all possible treatment options to develop the best treatment plan for them. In addition, you and your family can look into your legal options, including holding negligent parties responsible.
According to the American Cancer Society (www.cancer.org), as of January 2012, the average survival rate for mesothelioma is between four and 18 months. However, bear in mind this is only a general statistic that encompasses all forms of mesothelioma. Survival rates for individuals diagnosed with mesothelioma vary and can depend on many factors, such as the part of the body affected by the disease and the stage at which the diagnosis was made.
In addition, those patients who have cases that are operable are more likely to survive longer compared to the ones having inoperable cases.
Can I Sue for Compensation If I Have Mesothelioma?
Bottom line: If you believe you or a loved one was exposed to asbestos leading to mesothelioma or lung cancer, it is critical to act quickly. That is because the moment you are diagnosed, the clock is starting against you due to the statute of limitations. Once the statute of limitations has expired, any claim you may have had against negligent parties is forfeited.
Victims diagnosed with mesothelioma or lung cancer caused by asbestos can sue for damages. These damages can include:
- Past and future medical bills
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity
- Emotional damages
- Pain and suffering
If you have a lost a loved one due to mesothelioma, you may still have a wrongful death claim. A wrongful death claim is one that is filed on behalf of a loved one. Damages can include medical bills, loss of consortium, funeral expenses as well as any pain and suffering.
What Are Your Legal Rights?
Once a diagnosis has been made, a clock known in legal terms as a statute of limitations starts ticking. If that clock runs out, so has any opportunity you might have had to obtain justice and compensation for the harm that has been done to you.
Choosing an attorney is an important, but difficult process. Some of the questions you may want to ask during an initial consultation include:
How Committed is The Gori Law Firm to Asbestos Litigation?
At The Gori Law Firm, our practice is almost exclusively dedicated to asbestos litigation and obtaining justice for those affected by asbestos-related diseases.
How Many Cases Have They Handled?
The Gori Law Firm has represented over 1,000 clients and their families suffering from asbestos-related diseases and filed nearly 18,000 claims on behalf of those clients.
Have They Handled Cases Similar to Yours?
We handle a variety of cases involving but not limited to pleural mesothelioma, peritonial mesothelioma, pericardial mesothelioma and asbestos lung cancer
Do They Actually Try Cases or Just Settle Them?
Both. Each case is unique, and at The Gori Law Firm we work with our clients to obtain the best result for their specific situation.
Do They Do the Actual Work, or Do They Just Refer Cases to Other Lawyers?
At The Gori Law Firm, we have several teams dedicated to working with each individual client and their families throughout each stage of the mesothelioma litigation process.
What Kind of Results Has The Gori Law Firm Achieved in Asbestos Litigation?
Because each case is unique, it is difficult to provide a “typical” result that a perspective client may receive. However, our results page lists just some of our more recent results awarded to our clients and their families.