At Arentz Law Group, P.C., our mesothelioma attorneys know that people have a lot of questions about this deadly disease and the asbestos that causes it. Here are some answers to the mesothelioma and asbestos questions we hear most frequently. If you have more questions, or if you have been exposed to asbestos or diagnosed with mesothelioma, contact us today to schedule a free legal consultation.
Mesothelioma is a very rare and deadly form of cancer that is caused solely by exposure to the mineral asbestos. Mesothelioma affects the cells that line the organs of the lungs (pleural mesothelioma), heart (pericardial mesothelioma), or abdominal organs (peritoneal mesothelioma).
No. While mesothelioma is caused by exposure to asbestos, it is a very rare disease. Only about 3,000 Americans are diagnosed with mesothelioma every year, though most of us come into contact with asbestos at some point in our lives.
While asbestos has been banned for most uses in the United States for decades, there are still a number of ways people can come into contact with the toxic mineral. Many Navy ships have a high content of asbestos, as do older buildings such as schools and houses. Asbestos was once commonly used in insulation, flooring, roofing, and a number of other components of buildings.
If you suspect that there is asbestos in your home, do not touch it. Contact an expert to inspect the area. If asbestos is found, do not try to remove it yourself: there are specially trained asbestos remediation experts who will get rid of the toxic mineral in a safe manner.
If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos disease, or if you have lost a family member to an asbestos-related illness, you have the right to pursue compensation for your damages in a mesothelioma or asbestos exposure lawsuit.
If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, even if you aren’t aware of how or when you were exposed to asbestos, you have the right to file suit to hold the parties responsible for your exposure accountable. Our experienced mesothelioma lawyers have the knowledge and resources our clients can count on to find out who is to blame for their asbestos exposure. Common defendants in mesothelioma and asbestos exposure lawsuits include:
A statute of limitations is the amount of time a plaintiff has to file a lawsuit. Once a statute of limitations expires, the plaintiff no longer has the right to file a mesothelioma lawsuit. Mesothelioma lawsuit statutes of limitation vary according to state, but most states have a two year statute of limitations on these types of lawsuits. This generally means that plaintiffs have two years to file suit after a mesothelioma diagnosis, and that the family members of deceased mesothelioma patients lose their right to file suit two years after the date of that person’s death. A mesothelioma lawsuit attorney from our firm will be happy to help you learn about the statute of limitations for mesothelioma lawsuit in your state.
Except in extremely rare cases, it is not possible to file a mesothelioma lawsuit against a branch of the military because the federal government has sovereign immunity. However, it is often possible for individuals who were exposed to asbestos while serving our country to recover compensation from the companies that manufactured the asbestos products responsible for a service member’s mesothelioma diagnosis.
Mesothelioma prognosis is often the chief concern of a patient when he or she is first diagnosed with this very rare form of cancer. Mesothelioma is a very aggressive disease and its long latency period means that it is often not diagnosed until the cancer has reached an advanced stage. Sadly, this means that the average mesothelioma prognosis is not favorable: most patients survive only a year or two after they are diagnosed. Still, doctors and scientists are always researching and testing new mesothelioma treatments in clinical trials, so there is good reason to hope that the mesothelioma prognosis won’t be so grim in the years to come.
Of course, each patient is unique, so there is no surefire way to predict his or her true mesothelioma prognosis. Still, doctors are able to evaluate a number of factors to establish an estimate of each patient’s life expectancy. Issues taken into account when formulating a mesothelioma prognosis include:
Health of the Patient
A patient’s overall health is a key factor doctors weigh when establishing that patient’s mesothelioma prognosis. Obviously, a patient is in good general health will be able to fight cancer most effectively. However, since the vast majority of mesothelioma patients are already of an advanced age when they are diagnosed, many patients have pre-existing conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, or diabetes which could adversely affect their life expectancies.
Type of Mesothelioma
Depending on the tissues involved, doctors classify mesothelioma into three types: epithelial, sarcomatoid, and mixed. About one-half of all mesothelioma cases are epithelial mesothelioma, and these patients tend to have a better survival rate than patients with the other two types.
To establish a mesothelioma prognosis, doctors must take into account the stage to which a patient’s cancer has progressed. Treatment is most effective at the earliest stages of mesothelioma. Unfortunately, mesothelioma has a very long latency period, which means that it often does not present with symptoms that lead to a positive diagnosis until it has reached Stage 3 or 4 and this makes treatment much less effective.
The three forms of mesothelioma, pleural, peritoneal, and pericardial mesothelioma refer to the part of the body where the cancer originates. Most patients (up to 80%) have pleural mesothelioma, which originates in the lungs. These patients have the best survival rate, followed by patients with peritoneal mesothelioma. Patients who have pericardial mesothelioma often live only six to eight months after diagnosis.
In many cases, a patient’s mesothelioma is not diagnosed until the cancer has metastasized, or spread, to other parts of the body. The degree to which a patient’s cancer has metastasized has a direct relationship to his or her prognosis.
Recent data from the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs shows that more than 25 veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces are currently living in the United States. Unfortunately, the bravery and dedicated service of these individuals put them at the highest risk for asbestos exposure of all occupations in the United States, which has caused the veterans of our country to be the group of Americans most likely to develop the rare and fatal cancer known as mesothelioma.
Asbestos was widely used by every branch of the U.S. military because it is cheap, very durable, and exceptionally resistant to high temperatures, and it was not until the 1970s that the use of asbestos for military applications began to be phased out. Currently, the sector of the American population most at risk for developing mesothelioma and other asbestos diseases are veterans who served between 1940 and 1970. Mesothelioma has a very long latency period, and most mesothelioma patients don’t begin to present with symptoms until up to 50 years after being exposed to asbestos. Thus, as more veterans who served prior to the 1970s age, the number of veterans with mesothelioma is expected to increase in the coming years.