A diagnosis of mesothelioma is devastating. The disease, a cancer of the lining of body organs, is found almost exclusively in people who have worked with asbestos, their family members, close friends, and colleagues. Anyone who has had exposure to asbestos, whether in the workplace or on the clothes or equipment of a person working with the substance, is at a high risk of developing this form of cancer. Symptoms may take decades to appear, and often by the time it is diagnosed, treatment options are severely limited. In these cases, it is possible to pursue legal action to secure compensation.
What is mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is a form of cancer that targets the outer lining of organs; most cases involve the lungs, but the disease can also strike the stomach or the heart.
A loss of appetite and unanticipated weight loss are the universal symptoms of mesothelioma, irrespective of which organs are involved. In cases of mesothelioma of the lungs, specific symptoms that can develop are:
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Persistent coughing
- Fever, particularly at night
Disease of the stomach can result in:
- Stomach pain and/or swelling
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Diarrhea and/or constipation
Patients may not experience all of the symptoms of mesothelioma. If any are identified, and the person has had exposure to asbestos, it is prudent to seek the advice of a physician at the earliest opportunity.
What causes mesothelioma?
Almost all cases of mesothelioma are caused by irritation and scarring as a result of inadvertent inhalation of asbestos. The outer lining of the lungs, or any other affected organ, can then go on to develop mutations, which may become cancerous cells or tumors. A related chronic illness of the lungs, asbestosis, can progress to mesothelioma.
How is mesothelioma treated?
Sadly, most cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed at a late stage, as the disease can take decades to develop, and symptoms tend to appear only once it has become advanced. Most treatments are therefore palliative, rather than curative.
If surgery is considered to be worthwhile, the average cost of performing an operation is almost $40,000. Initial treatment with chemotherapy is estimated to be $7,000, with an 8-week course costing $30,000. In cases where radiotherapy can be attempted, there is an average expense of $2,000 per month to the patient. As well as these interventions, alternative therapies that may form part of palliative care can carry substantial costs, which may not be covered by medical insurance.
Is compensation possible for asbestos victims?
Yes. Patients who are diagnosed with mesothelioma are often able to obtain compensation from their former employers, who are liable for the long-term effects of asbestos exposure. Average settlements are $1.2million, and in cases that go to a full trial, awards are often upwards of $2million.
If you have been affected by mesothelioma, or you know someone who has, it is important to discuss and understand your options. Fortunately, there are specialized organizations that can help. Contact MesotheliomaHelp.org for more information.