Mesothelioma And Asbestos Exposure


Mesothelioma, short for diffuse malignant mesothelioma, is a type of cancer that ravages the linings (or the “mesothelium”) of vital organs and regions in the body, such as the lungs, heart, stomach, and/or testicles. The word “diffuse” refers to the spread-out quality of mesothelioma which presents as “sheets” of malignant cells.

Types of Mesothelioma

Two main types of mesothelioma are most common:

Pleural mesothelioma attacks the lining of the lungs, called the pleura. The pleura facilitate inhaling and exhaling. Pleural mesothelioma is caused by inhaled asbestos fibers that move outside the lung. It impairs the ability to breathe normally and can eventually completely disable one or both lungs. Pleural mesothelioma accounts for about 75%of all mesothelioma cases in the United States.

Peritoneal mesothelioma destroys the peritoneum, the lining of the abdominal cavity. It is caused by asbestos fibers that are inhaled and then migrate to the peritoneum, which supports and aids the functioning of the abdominal organs. Peritoneal mesothelioma is characterized by excessive buildup of fluid in the abdomen and by tumors that spread out in sheets. It accounts for about 20 percent of all mesothelioma cases.

Less frequently, mesothelioma can develop in other locations including the lining of the heart, or pericardium (pericardial mesothelioma), and in the lining of the ovaries (ovarian mesothelioma) and scrotum (scrotal mesothelioma).

Cause of Mesothelioma

While mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer in the general population, it occurs frequently in people who have been exposed to asbestos in the workplace or through workplace fibers that have been brought into the home or from asbestos-containing products used in a home setting. In fact, in the United States, asbestos is the only confirmed cause of mesothelioma.

Asbestos is a naturally occurring group of minerals. Due to its heat-resistant nature, as well as its natural strength, asbestos has been widely used in a variety of products worldwide since its discovery in the late 19th century. Common asbestos-containing products include building materials, cement, insulation, plastic, cloth, and paper goods. Talc powder products also commonly contained asbestos. Unfortunately, asbestos exposure is extremely harmful to humans. When disturbed, asbestos releases microscopic fibers into the air, which can then be inhaled or ingested. Once these fibers enter the body, they can become lodged in the mesothelium lining around the lungs, heart, stomach, or testicles. This can, in turn, lead to the growth of cancerous cells.

Mesothelioma from asbestos exposure began to be identified among asbestos workers in the 1940s. By this time, there were large volumes of information establishing that asbestos caused scarring in the lungs known as “asbestosis” and information already linking asbestos to lung cancer. Epidemiology studies conducted in the 1960s definitively established asbestos as the cause of mesothelioma.

The dangers of asbestos exposure have been widely known since at least the early 20th century. However, the asbestos industry has never publicized these dangers or warned consumers about them. It wasn’t until the 1970s that the hazards of asbestos exposure were made known and some bans went into place. Currently, asbestos is not entirely banned in the United States; minimal amounts of asbestos may be used in all types of consumer products.

Although these amounts are small, they are still enough to cause serious injury and illness. We recommend working with an experienced mesothelioma lawyer to help you prove your mesothelioma case.

Length of development

Mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases usually develop years after an initial exposure to asbestos. Indeed, the latency period can range from 10 to more than 50 years before mesothelioma clinical symptoms can be seen. For this reason, people diagnosed with mesothelioma are often shocked to learn that a short-term asbestos exposure that took place years ago is the source of their present-day cancer.

Mesothelioma Statistics

More than 3,000 new cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed each year in the United States. In contrast, approximately 160,000 people are diagnosed with lung cancer each year in this country.

Mesothelioma Treatment & Cure

Unfortunately most traditional treatments for cancer are less effective in treating mesothelioma. Traditional mesothelioma treatments and experimental ones may work to slow the effects of the cancer, but there is no known cure at this time. When answering the question: “What is Mesothelioma?” most doctors will tell you that the disease is caused by asbestos and there is no known cure. However, mesothelioma doctors are able to use traditional mesothelioma treatments and may suggest enrollment in mesothelioma clinical trials. Traditionally, treatment for the disease involved segregation of the sheets of diseased cells, but new mesothelioma treatments are centered on less obtrusive methods.

Legal Definition

According to the legal definition of mesothelioma, it is a terminal, but yet preventable disease caused by asbestos and by corporations that failed to warn of the dangers of asbestos. Had workers been warned about the hazards of asbestos, by the companies that manufactured asbestos products, then workers could have taken steps to protect themselves from such risks.

IMPORTANT: If you or your family member has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you should get in touch with a mesothelioma lawyer as early as possible.

Find out whether you have a case by speaking to one of our experienced mesothelioma lawyers via our 24/7 toll-free hotline at (800) 315-3806 or submit an email inquiry. Our attorneys will be quick to respond to you and happy to answer all of your questions.

NOTE: We have offices located in New York, New Jersey, California, Georgia, Washington, and Maryland. Many of our mesothelioma lawyers are licensed to practice law in a number of U.S. states and have the capability and extensive experience of representing mesothelioma clients throughout the United States. You are encouraged to contact us with any questions.


Find out whether you have a case by speaking to one of our experienced lawyers via our 24/7 toll-free hotline or by submitting an email inquiry. Our attorneys will be quick to respond to you and happy to answer all of your questions.


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