Dangers of Asbestos and Mesothelioma Cancer
By Staff Writer
Mesothelioma is a form of cancer that is almost exclusively caused by exposure to asbestos. In this disease, malignant cells develop in the mesothelium, the protective lining around the body's internal organs. Its most common site is the pleura (the outer lining of the lungs and chest cavity), but mesothelioma may also occur in the peritoneum (the lining of the abdominal cavity) or the pericardium (the lining of the heart).
Most people who develop mesothelioma have either worked on jobs where they inhaled asbestos particles or were exposed to asbestos dust and fibers in other ways—such as by washing the clothes of a family member who worked around asbestos or by home renovation using asbestos products. There is no link between mesothelioma and smoking, although smoking tends to aggravate mesothelioma side effects.
Asbestos, which was first mined and used commercially in the late 1800s, became quite popular during World War II. Beginning at that time, millions of Americans were exposed to asbestos dust. The risks associated with asbestos exposure were not widely known, or at least they were downplayed by those in the asbestos industry. However, it was soon proven that shipyard workers, people who work in asbestos mines and mills, those who make asbestos products, and laborers in the heating and construction industries were most likely to get a mesothelioma diagnosis.
Between 3,000 and 6,000 new cases of mesothelioma are presented each year in the U.S., with the average age of diagnosis falling between 50 and 70. Treatment for mesothelioma does exist, but the success rate is quite low. There is no cure for mesothelioma, but those affected can receive treatment including surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Since the first mesothelioma lawsuit was filed in 1969, thousands of others followed, and asbestos-related injury quickly became the nation's largest area of product liability litigation.
About the Author
Hissey Kientz, LLP
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