Asbestos and Mesothelioma

//Asbestos and Mesothelioma
Asbestos and Mesothelioma2018-07-04T05:14:14+00:00

For a quarter of a century, Frederick Schenk – nationally recognized for his expertise – has led CaseyGerry’s mesothelioma and asbestos practice team. He and his partners have represented thousands of clients who have contracted asbestos-related diseases from sources including Navy shipyards, construction sites, manufacturing plants and oil refineries.

As the firm’s lead asbestos and mesothelioma attorney, Mr. Schenk has recovered over $100 million for asbestos victims throughout Southern California – handling more mesothelioma cases than any other asbestos lawyer in San Diego, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties. He and his colleagues at CaseyGerry have represented thousands of clients who have contracted asbestos related diseases.

In a case against Owens Corning Fiberglass, Mr. Schenk obtained a $2.4 million verdict for punitive damages and economic losses – the largest verdict ever against an asbestos manufacturer in San Diego County.

When working with asbestos cases, CaseyGerry’s attorneys and paralegals move with a sense of urgency, documenting the illness and medical evaluations and filing complex paperwork related to claims and lawsuits.

Working with other firms around the country, they have identified the manufacturers, installers, sellers and industrial users of asbestos – and were among the first plaintiff’s asbestos lawyers in the nation to uncover critically important documents connecting corporate knowledge of the hazards of asbestos with medical information that dates back to the 1930’s.

An estimated 1.3 million workers may end up with deadly diseases – including mesothelioma, asbestosis or lung cancer – as a result of exposure to asbestos. The dangers of exposure are well documented – and aren’t going away.

Used as a material for heating insulation since the 1920s, the most widespread use of asbestos was aboard Navy ships, in commercial buildings and in homes. Not surprisingly, heaviest exposures occur in the construction industry, especially during removal of the material for renovation or demolition – and symptoms take years to appear after exposure.

The presence of asbestos – a material that dissolves into microscopic dust – is pervasive. It is found in more than 3,000 products – from heat and acoustic insulation to roofing and flooring. Automakers even put it in brake pads and NASA used it in the space shuttles.

CaseyGerry attorneys have established that the Navy used the deadly product in ships, exposing shipbuilding and repair crews at NASSCO and 32nd Street Naval Shipyard as well as Navy personnel serving aboard vessels.

Workers can be exposed to the particles when they are renovating or demolishing buildings. One of the greatest dangers is that if inhaled or swallowed, the tiny particles can remain in the body for many years. Mesothelioma often goes undetected, so when it is diagnosed, it has often progressed to a point of no return. Even though the product and how it is handled are now carefully controlled by OSHA and the EPA, the dangers persists.

CaseyGerry attorneys are experts in pressing for quick, efficient resolution of asbestos claims and lawsuits – especially because they know many clients won’t live to see their cases settled.

If you believe that you or a loved one is experiencing health issues as a result of exposure, the attorneys at CaseyGerry can help. Contact us for a free consultation and case review.

Asbestos litigation requires careful documentation of illness, medical evaluation by qualified doctors and complex paperwork related to claims. Our staff has extensive experience in helping and working with asbestos victims, and knows how to obtain essential documents that identify where and how disease-causing exposures occurred.

The CaseyGerry team works closely with clients, their families and medical providers to make sure that their insurance paperwork is current and that all of their bills are submitted to the proper insurers. Our staff can also assist with claim forms when and if a claim must be filed to obtain compensation for the asbestos victim and their family members, and we have helped many hundreds of people through the complicated claims and trial process. Our work has helped achieve compensation from the companies that manufactured, installed and sold asbestos products throughout the United States.

For more information or a consultation on your case please contact us.

The modern English word comes from the ancient Greek word asbestos, meaning unquenchable.

A commercial and industrial term describing a group of specific silicate minerals that forms bundles of long, very thin mineral fibers, asbestos refers to a group of magnesium silicates which have both a crystalline and a fibrous structure — the six most common are actinolite, chrysotile, tremolite, anthophyllite, crocidolite and amosite. Asbestos is most commonly found in three rock types: serpentinites, altered ultramafic rocks, and some mafic rocks. Other rock types known to host asbestos include metamorphosed dolostones, metamorphosed iron formations, carbonatites, and alkalic intrusions.  The amount of asbestos or asbestiform minerals in these rocks can range in size from commercial-grade ore bodies to thin impure veinlets or low-grade occurrences.

Extremely resistant to heat and flame, asbestos is an excellent insulator. Its fibers are so light that they become airborne, and so flexible that they can be woven into fabric. The fibers occur in two basic forms: amphiboles, which are straight needle-like fibers, and serpentine, whose fibers are curled and more flexible.

Until recently, studies suggested that only amphiboles caused cancer. More recent research has established that Chrysotile fibers, which are serpentine, can also cause mesothelioma. Tremolite and Crocidolite — straight fibers — are considered even more hazardous.

Major asbestos deposits are found in Russia, China, Canada, Brazil, Kazakhistan and Zimbabwe, and smaller outcrops are found in North America and southern Europe.

Naturally Occurring Asbestos

The term “naturally occurring asbestos” refers to the mineral as a natural component of soils or rocks — as opposed to in commercial products, mining or processing operations. Naturally occurring asbestos can be released from rocks or soils by routine human activities, such as construction, or natural weathering processes. If naturally occurring asbestos is not disturbed and fibers are not released into the air, then it is not a health risk.  Natural

While the harmful effects of asbestos exposure have been recorded since the first century, the first case of a disease linked to asbestos, asbestosis, was officially diagnosed in 1924 in the United Kingdom. Today, the four most common diseases related to asbestos exposure are Mesothelioma; Pleural Plaque, Asbestosis and Lung Cancer, however other cancers have been assoicaed with asbestos as well. Following is an overview of the diseases commpnly linked to asbestos:

Mesothelioma

A cancer of the mesothelium, the thin membrane that lines the chest and abdominal cavity, and covers the organs within each of these cavities. Mesothelioma is relatively rare, accounting for only 1% of all cancer diagnoses, and almost all cases of mesothelioma are linked to asbestos exposure. Inhaled asbestos fibers work their way into the chest cavity or the abdominal cavity, and lodge in the mesothelium. The disease progresses slowly; symptoms may not appear for 15 years, sometimes for as long as 40 years after the initial exposure.

The membrane thickens into a hard, inflexible rind, forming bumps and nodules. The enlarging cancerous tissue produces large amounts of fluid that crowds the pleural or abdominal cavity, and the cancer itself compresses nearby organs. Pleural mesothelioma may invade the heart, the lungs, and the diaphragm. Peritoneal mesothelioma leaks fluid into the abdominal cavity, and the cancer may invade the esophagus, the liver or the stomach and small intestines. It may also encroach on large blood vessels, making surgical removal of the cancer difficult, sometimes impossible.

Mesothelial cells provide lubricating secretions which allow the organs in the chest and the abdomen to move freely. As the cancer progresses the mesothelial cells go into overdrive, and produce more fluid than is needed. In mesothelioma of the chest cavity, this excess fluid is called pleural effusion. Fluid pressure on the lungs and heart create a severe, crushing pain. Ascites is the term for excess fluid in the abdomen, and there it also creates pressure and causes severe pain.

As the tumor mass enlarges, patients with pleural mesothelioma may suffer frequent respiratory infections, a persistent cough, shortness of breath, constant, overwhelming fatigue, and severe chest pain. Peritoneal mesothelioma may cause weight loss, digestive and bowel problems, and abdominal pain. Mesothelioma victims cannot sleep comfortably, and frequently lose appetite as well. By the time the symptoms are severe enough for the victim to seek medical help, the disease may be far advanced, even metastasized to other organs. Once the mesothelioma has metastasized, it is far advanced, and incurable.

Pleural mesotheliomas, involving the lungs, occur about four times as frequently as peritoneal mesothelioma. In pleural mesothelioma usually only one lung is involved. Among mesothelioma victims there are five times as many men as women, a fact which reflects the distribution of men and women in jobs with high exposure to asbestos. Men and women are equally represented among victims of as peritoneal mesothelioma.

Lung Cancer

The American Lung Association notes that almost all lung cancers are caused by external irritants that cause cancerous changes in cells. Like the mesothelium in the chest cavity, tissues in the lung are vulnerable to the cancer-causing effects of asbestos. Most lung cancer caused by asbestos inhalation starts in the lining of the bronchi, the tubes that lead from the windpipe into each lung. Lung cancer caused by asbestos exposure can also begin in the windpipe itself, the bronchioles, smaller tubes which branch off from the bronchi, or in the alveoli.

Lung cancer is also slow-growing, and there may be a latency of years between asbestos exposure and the first symptoms. Changes in the lung may in fact have begun almost as soon as a person is exposed to asbestos. Soon after exposure begins, a few abnormal cells may appear in the lining of the bronchi. If the exposure continues, more abnormal cells will appear.  Workers with long-term  exposure to asbestos have 3 to 4 times greater risk of developing lung cancer than workers who have not been exposed. Asbestos workers who smoke increase their risk of getting lung cancer by a factor of 50 to 100.

Asbestosis

Asbestosis is caused by asbestos fibers that irritate the lung cells, causing the growth of scar-like tissue in the lungs and in the pleural membrane that surrounds the lungs. The scar tissue is thicker and less flexible than normal lung tissue, and cannot expand and contract as easily. Breathing becomes more difficult and painful for the affected person. People with asbestosis have shortness of breath, often accompanied by a cough. The scar-like tissue also compromises blood flow to the lung, forcing the heart to pump harder, which causes it to enlarge. Asbestosis is a serious, painful disease which can cause disability or death.

Pleural Plaque

Pleural plaque disease is a type of lung disease which can develop in the lungs of people who have been chronically exposed to airborne asbestos fibers.Over a period of up to four decades, these fibers cause chronic irritation in lung tissue. This leads to the deposition of collagen fibers around locations where asbestos is located, forming a pleural plaque. Eventually, the pleural plaque may become calcified, which means calcium salts have built up in the tissue, causing it to harden. The area where a pleural plaque is located therefore cannot function as normal lung tissue does, because it has hardened and can no longer expand as the lungs inflate during breathing. People with pleural plaques have difficulty breathing during exertion; in advanced cases of disease, they may have difficulty breathing even when at rest. Breathing may also be painful. Another common symptom of pleural plaque disease is the presence of pleural effusion, which occurs because fluid builds up in the pleural cavity. This is the body cavity where the lungs are located.

A person with pleural plaques cannot be cured; once the plaques are present in the lungs, they cannot be removed or repaired. Further damage can be prevented if he or she is no longer exposed to asbestos. Since the disease cannot be cured, treatment focuses on managing symptoms. One of the most common treatments is the use of an oxygen mask for people who have difficulty breathing.

Additional Cancers

The International Agency Research on Cancer, IARC, which is a constituent organization of the World Health Association, recently reported that asbestos is implicated in still other types of cancer, including  larynx, and ovarian cancer.

The mechanisms by which asbestos fibers cause cancers is complex, involving interactions between the mineral fibers and vulnerable cells in the affected organs. Crystalline asbestos fibers are very long-lived; once they lodge in human tissues, they may stay there for decades. Their reactivity to cells, their size, especially their surface area, and their surface chemistry all contribute to their potential to cause harm.

Although a causal linkage between asbestos exposure and colorectal cancer is not confirmed, increasing evidence links exposure to this cancer as well.

ASBESTOS EXPOSURE

Everyone is exposed to asbestos at some point. In fact, Asbestos is present in extremely low levels in soil, water and air, yet this type of asbestos exposure carries relatively low risk. Many people live in homes built with asbestos products, or work or go to school in buildings where asbestos products were used in construction. As long as the asbestos-containing materials are not sanded, scraped, filed, cut, or otherwise disturbed or removed, the asbestos fibers are less likely to escape and the hazard from them is reduced.

BUILDING MATERIALS AND HOME PRODUCTS THAT MAY CONTAIN ASBESTOS INCLUDE:
Carpet underlays

Acoustic tiles

Acoustic plaster

Floor tiles

Heat cement

Roofing felt

Roofing paper

Lap seal

Limpet spray

Artificial fireplaces and materials

Firebrick Patching and spackling compounds

Pipe and duct insulation

Vinyl wallpaper

Pipe covering

Pipe insulation

Joint compounds

Fake snow

Perlite

Corrugated asbestos sheet

Troweled coating

US Gypsum spray

Wire mesh blanket Pot holders and ironing board pads

Flame-proof oven mitts

Toaster insulation

Electrical wire insulation

Textured paints

Furnaces and furnace door gaskets

Gypsum board and sheetrock

Gypsum spray

Vinyl gypsum adhesive

Patching plaster

Asbestos cement

Furnace cement

Weld-on cement

One-coat cement

Fiber cement

Roofing cement

High temperature cements

Waterproofing

Tar paper

Mastic adhesives

Insulation blankets

Insulation board

Mineral wool

If a person lives or works in a structure in which one or more of these or other asbestos-containing products have been disturbed or removed, the risk of asbestos exposure rises. Removal of products that contain to asbestos should be done only by workers trained in asbestos removal.

Types of work and situations known for high exposure to asbestos

People who develop asbestos related diseases have usually had regular and perhaps frequent asbestos exposure, either through handling as part of their work, or living or working in a building where asbestos-containing materials have been disturbed by construction or renovation.

CERTAIN KINDS OF WORK INVOLVE HIGH EXPOSURE TO ASBESTOS. THESE INCLUDE:
asbestos mining and milling

manufacture of asbestos tiles

manufacture of asbestos fabrics

shipbuilding trades

insulation work in construction

electricians

plasterers

pipe fitters

railroad workers

manufacture of brake linings

building demolition

drywall installation

drywall removal

other asbestos removal

firefighting

asbestos tile setters

boiler workers

aluminum plant workers

9/11 and the North Tower: Another Generation of Mesothelioma

The attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001 created a new asbestos exposure hazard. The North Tower was constructed between 1970 and 1972 and asbestos, principally chrysotile, was used as fireproofing up to the 40th floor. When the Tower collapsed, an estimated 2000 tons of asbestos fibers were blasted into the air, exposing firemen, policemen, construction workers, paramedics, and volunteers who worked at Ground Zero.

Because of its known potential as a carcinogen, asbestos immediately became a major health concern. The US Environmental Protection Agency collected thousands of samples of airborne and settled dust and analyzed it for asbestos content. Most of the elevated asbestos levels were observed in the earliest days after September 11. Asbestos was also found in dust in nearby apartments, sometimes at higher levels than in the outside environment. Because some residents had prolonged exposures to uncleaned apartments, these indoor exposures may have added significantly to ambient exposures.

Additional asbestos exposure increases the risk for mesothelioma, and a higher incidence of the cancer will likely occur in the population who worked at Ground Zero, or who lived and worked in lower Manhattan. Given the disease’s pattern of extremely slow development, these cases of mesothelioma may not be identified for decades.

Risk to Family Members of Asbestos Workers

Exposed to asbestos by fibers brought into the home on the worker’s hair, clothing, and shoes, family members of a worker heavily exposed to asbestos are at higher risk for illness. Federal and some state laws now require people working with asbestos to take safety measures to prevent the fibers being carried on them.  Depending on the nature of their work and their exposure, workers may be required to shower and change their clothes before leaving work, store their own clothes in a separate part of the workplace, or wash work clothes separately at home.

Risks in asbestos removal and building demolition

In the course of removing asbestos from homes and workplaces, the asbestos-containing materials are likely to be sawed, pounded, pried loose, sanded, and otherwise disturbed – releasing  asbestos fibers into the air.  Demolition of a building presents even greater risks of creating airborne asbestos fibers. Asbestos removal should only be done by trained workers who adhere to OSHA safety standards for themselves and the building’s occupants.

Humans have known about and used asbestos for 4000 years. The ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans were familiar with the material, and regarded its resistance to flame as akin to magic. They reserved asbestos for use in religious purposes, such as wicks for the sacred lamps used by the vestal virgins, priestesses of the goddess Vesta, protector of Rome. Because of its fire resistance, asbestos was also used for cremation robes for emperors and other nobles. The Greek geographer Strabo and Pliny the Elder, a Roman historian and naturalist, both wrote about asbestos. Each of them noted that slaves who worked with the material frequently developed a sickness of the lungs.

While asbestos mining began thousands of years ago, it did not become a serious industry in this country until the end of the 19th century, when manufacturers began to use the material for a variety of industrial products – from insulation for pipes and boilers to heat-resistant material in brakes and clutches. Throughout the early 20th century, uses for asbestos products expanded to hundreds of products and applications, including cement building materials, reinforcement in asbestos-cement products, water and sewage pipes, fire resistant insulation boards, floor tiles and coverings, wallboard, ceiling tiles, and in gas masks, lifts and machinery.

Because asbestos-related disease develops slowly and often presents no symptoms for years after the exposure, the 20th century was well into its second decade before large numbers of workers developed the diseases recognized as asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma.

More than Million Workers Exposed

During World War II, naval shipyards ramped up production, employing many thousands of workers in the construction and repair of ships. In 1943, the peak year for shipbuilding employment in the US, 1,337,000 workers in skilled trades, engineering, clerical, and management jobs worked building and repairing the country’s military and commercial fleets. Asbestos products were used extensively in these enterprises, with shipyard workers often working in enclosed, unventilated spaces. Suppliers of asbestos products and shipyard owners made no disclosure of the lethal risks these workers faced.

In 1944, a Metropolitan Life company report described a workforce of 195 miners at one mine, among whom doctors diagnosed 42 cases of asbestosis, an incidence rate of more than 20 per cent.

Meanwhile, physicians began to voice their concerns. The Johns-Manville Company, a major manufacturer of asbestos products, was aware that asbestos fibers posed a significant health hazard, and began to monitor the health of its workforce. In 1952, Dr Kenneth Smith, medical director of Johns-Manville, urged managers to place warning labels explaining the potential health hazards of asbestos on the company’s products. He was overruled. In 1953 the director of safety for National Gypsum, a major manufacturer of asbestos products, wrote to the Indiana Division of Industrial Hygiene, recommending that workers mixing acoustic plaster wear respirators “because of the asbestos used in the product.”  Another National Gypsum executive reviewed the letter, called it was “full of dynamite,” and arranged to have it intercepted before it reached its destination.

A Groundbreaking Study

In 1953, physician and medical researcher Dr Irving Selikoff of New York’s Mt Sinai School of Medicine founded a clinic in Paterson, NJ, and became increasingly concerned about the unusual incidence of lung cancers and mesotheliomas among asbestos workers. With the help of the New York and New Jersey locals of the International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Asbestos Workers, he embarked on a far-reaching study of the health of union members.

He found evidence of asbestosis in over half them, and documented a clear dose-response relationship: the longer the exposure to asbestos, the greater likelihood of a worker’s developing cancer. Selikoff also showed that the death rate among asbestos workers was 25% higher than expected. His groundbreaking study, published in 1964, irrefutably established the dangers of asbestos exposure.

After the publication of Selikoff’s study, neither companies nor their hired experts could reasonably continue to claim ignorance of the dangers. The gate was opened for plaintiffs’ lawyers to file product liability suits on behalf of terminally ill asbestos workers against the manufacturers of asbestos products.

Move to Regulate, Ban Asbestos

Eventually, the federal government took notice of Selikoff’s study and other scientific evidence, and in 1971, the newly-established Occupational Safety and Health Administration, OSHA, published the first workplace exposure standard for asbestos. Two years later the US Environmental Protection Agency, EPA banned spray-on asbestos insulation as an air pollution hazard.

Recognizing the significant dangers that asbestos presents, the EPA announced its intention in 1979 to work toward a total ban. That rule was promulgated in 1989 – the measure was met with fierce opposition and asbestos companies immediately filed suit. After ten years of research and deliberation, millions of dollars poured into the regulation, and countless hours of work by environmental health officials, a federal court revoked the ban. Products containing asbestos are still sold and manufactured in the United States today.

Industry’s Bad Faith Confirmed

Early on, the toxicity of asbestos was recognized. The Prudential Insurance Company acknowledged the risk in 1918, ceasing to sell life insurance coverage to asbestos workers because of the “health-injurious conditions of the industry.” Since the 1920’s, senior management in companies that mined and processed asbestos, and those that manufactured industrial products containing asbestos knew that exposure to asbestos fibers presented major health hazards for their workers. Yet these companies neglected to inform workers about the health risks – failing to provide adequate ventilation, masks, or other safety equipment that could have reduced their exposure.

When medical researchers and lawyers for workers who developed asbestosis and mesothelioma began to ask hard questions, these corporations did their utmost to prevent the facts from coming to light. From the 1940’s through the late 80’s, major corporations asserted that they knew nothing about asbestos exposure as a cause of fatal disease. The asbestos industry’s cover-up — and refusal to offer compensation to workers dying of asbestos-related disease — is one of the great industrial crimes of the 20th century.

In 1977, plaintiffs lawyers representing injured asbestos workers discovered the papers and correspondence of Sumner Simpson, the president of Raybestos-Manhattan during the 1930’s and 40’s. His letters to his own corporate counsel and to other asbestos companies reveal that industry executives fully understood the dangers of asbestos — and the lethal consequences for workers – and document shocking company decisions to suppress information and mislead workers about the causes of their illnesses.

Asbestos Victims Prevail Court

The release of the Sumner Simpson papers marked a turning point in litigation for asbestos victims  – the industry’s protestations of ignorance were essentially revealed as calculated lies.  Ruling against Owens Corning in 1999, the Florida Supreme Court wrote that the company had willfully withheld information about the danger of working with its asbestos products: “It would be difficult to envision a more egregious set of circumstances . . . . a blatant disregard for human safety involving large numbers of people put at life-threatening risk.”

Through the 1970’s and 80’s, increasing numbers of asbestos victims sought compensation for their illness and suffering — asbestos attorneys were able to achieve substantial compensation for many workers who had served their employers and their country in good faith.

Asbestos Companies Go Bankrupt

After losing a series of lawsuits, Johns-Manville declared bankruptcy in 1982, the largest US corporation ever to do so. As the tide of litigation continued to rise, other asbestos companies followed the same course. Since then, many other US manufacturers and suppliers of asbestos products have now filed for bankruptcy. Increasingly, the resolution of victims’ claims increasingly rests with bankruptcy courts.

The task now facing plaintiffs’ lawyers, asbestos companies, and congress, is to craft a solution that will address the needs of this generation’s asbestos victims and their families, as well as those of future victims — whose illnesses have not yet been diagnosed.

Asbestos Asbestos is a generic term that refers to a group of magnesium silicates, six types of closely related mineral fibers which belong  to two groups: serpentines and amphiboles. The serpentine group contains a single variety, chrysotile. Five varieties belong to the amphibole mineral group: anthophyllite; grunerite, also called amosite; riebeckite, also called crocidolite; tremolite; and actinolite.

All six forms share these properties: incombustibility (resistance to burning), resistance to biodegradation, low electrical conductivity, and chemical inertia, resistance to combining with other chemicals.

Amosite Amosite is an acronym for Asbestos Mines of South Africa and the trade name for grunerite, or brown asbestos.
Amphiboles A group of closely related asbestos forms. Amphibole fibers are straight and needle-like, and more brittle than Chrysotile. The first research on fiber types suggested that amphiboles were the only asbestos fibers than caused cancer.
Anthophyllite An amphibole asbestos
Chrysotile Sometimes called “white asbestos.” This form is highly flexible, and can be woven into fabrics. Its individual fibers are curly, and more flexible than amphiboles.

Over 90% of the asbestos used in the United States is Chrysotile, and it has been established as the major causes of asbestos-related diseases in the U.S. There is no safe level of exposure to chrysotile.

When inhaled, Chrysotile fibers do not remain in the lungs, but migrate to the pleura, the lining of the lungs, the tissue where mesothelioma develops.

Recent research has established that Chrysotile fibers do in fact cause mesothelioma

Crocidolite An amphibole asbestos mined in Australia and Africa which is particularly toxic, and associated with mesothelioma and other asbestos related diseases
Crystalline structure A crystal is a solid with molecules packed in a regularly ordered, repeating pattern extending in all three spatial dimensions. Salt, snowflakes, and diamonds are familiar examples of crystalline structures. Asbestos is composed of microscopic crystalline structures which are aggregated into bundles of fibers
Fibrous structure Most varieties of asbestos have the appearance of bundles light, thin fibers that shear off easily.
Magnesium silicate The mineral group of which all asbestos varieties are a part.
Serpentine asbestos Another term for Chrysotile asbestos
Tremolite An amphibole asbestos mined in the Tremola Valley of Switzerland
Mesothelioma grows slowly — and silently. Only when the tumor has grown large enough that it presses on vital organs, or leaks fluid into the body cavity does the victim begin to experience symptoms. For pleural mesothelioma, the first symptoms can include

  • moderate to severe chest pain
  • shortness of breath
  • constant fatigue
  • a persistent dry cough
  • weight loss, night sweats, and fevers.

Peritoneal mesothelioma also grows slowly and without symptoms. Symptoms may include:

  • fever
  • weight loss
  • abdominal pain
  • digestive disturbances
  • fatigue
  • increased abdominal girth or distention of the abdomen
  • an abdominal mass
  • ascites (fluid in the abdomen)
  • anemia

Because the symptoms for both conditions are nonspecific and could be caused by any of a number of illnesses, mesothelioma is often underdiagnosed.  If you experience persistent symptoms, please visit your physician.

Pain that is not properly managed can seriously impact a person’s overall quality of life.

However, pain management specialists report that much of the pain associated with cancer is very treatable. Indeed, most patients who experience pain will obtain relief using a combination of medications.

Although medication is the primary tool for treating cancer pain, other treatments such as surgery, radiation, biofeedback, relaxation, imagery and other non-drug treatments are frequently used to provide even more pain relief.

Like other cancers, Pain from mesothelioma persists as long as the disease is present, and it tends to increase as the disease progresses. For people with mesothelioma — and their doctors — managing pain is one of the most important challenges of the ilness.

Most cancer treatment centers now have a multidisciplinary pain management team who focus on creating maximum physical comfort and maintaining quality of life for every patient.

Pain management interventions for mesothelioma patients are individually tailored to meet each patient’s unique needs and tolerances – with a focus on  providing maximum pain relief with the fewest side effects, and with the greatest ease of administration.

If someone you love has mesothelioma, you may be involved as a caregiver. While this work is essential — it can also be overwhelming. One of the greatest stressors for family caregivers is a sense of isolation — the feeling that they’re alone, and that people around them, including the patient, don’t understand the enormity of what they are coping with. In fact, as a family caregiver you’re part of a very large community: about 50 million Americans provide care for a member of their family.

One of the best resources is the Family Caregivers Association, a national organization that aims to educate, support, and advocate for family caregivers. The association’s Ten Tips for Family Caregivers packs a powerful load of wisdom into a single page:

  • Caregiving is a job and respite is your earned right. Reward yourself with respite breaks often.
  • Watch out for signs of depression, and don’t delay in getting professional help when you need it.
  • When people offer to help, accept the offer and suggest specific things that they can do.
  • Educate yourself about your loved one’s condition and how to communicate effectively with doctors.
  • Trust your instincts. Most of the time they’ll lead you in the right direction.
  • There’s a difference between caring and doing. Be open to technologies and ideas that promote your loved one’s independence.
  • Caregivers often do a lot of lifting, pushing, and pulling. Be good to your back.
  • Grieve for your losses, and then allow yourself to dream new dreams.
  • Seek support from other caregivers. There is great strength in knowing you are not alone.
  • Stand up for your rights as a caregiver and a citizen.
Following is a small sampling of websites which caregivers to mesothelioma and other patients may find beneficial. Many sites have their own lists of resources, other sites and organizations.

The leading support and advocacy organization for the nation’s 50 million family caregivers.

//www.sharethecare.org An organization that teaches people how to organize a caregiver support group of family and friends, to share the work and rewards of caring for a person with a terminal illness and avoid caregiver burnout.

The site offers models and information for helping patients and their families manage their illness more successfully.

www.carepages.com This site offers free, private web pages that enable you to send and receive messages of support and to stay connected to family, friends, co-workers and others who care about you and your loved one.

www.thehealingproject.org A non-profit organization dedicated to improving the health and well being of those with life threatening diseases and their families.

Johnson and Johnson sponsors this site as part of their Caregivers’ Initiative. Features a caregiver’s manual, advice about managing stress, and bulletin boards for sharing your experience, asking for advice, and connecting with other caregivers.

How is mesothelioma diagnosed?
Pleural mesothelioma is the most common form of malignant mesothelioma and is commonly seen in men who have had occupational exposure. This often fatal form of cancer develops in the pleural cavity surrounding the lungs. Mesothelioma can also develop in the lining of the pericardium and peritoneal cavities.

What are the symptoms of pleural mesothelioma?
The most common symptoms of pleural mesothelioma are shortness of breath and pain in and around the back and rib cage. It also causes productive coughing along with fatigue and loss of appetite. The diagnosis is established by a tissue biopsy. A qualified pulmonary pathologist performs a battery of tests, including immunohistochemical and ultrastructural analysis.

Is an autopsy necessary?
If the victim has died from a suspected mesothelioma, an autopsy will be a critically helpful tool. In conducting an autopsy, the pathologist can have not only the special staining and structural analysis performed, but also can conduct a visual inspection. Mesotheliomas present a striking and unique appearance, a thick rind of grayish tumor surrounding one or both lungs.

Where is asbestos found?
Over 3,000 products still found in homes and offices contain deadly asbestos fibers used for heat and acoustic insulation, fireproofing, and roofing or flooring. Our asbestos and mesothelioma lawyers have identified some of the products that often contain asbestos:

  • Building and ship insulation
  • Wall and ceiling acoustical tiles
  • Carpet underlays
  • Roofing materials
  • Cements
  • Artificial fireplaces and materials
  • Patching and spackling compounds
  • Car and truck brake pads and linings
  • Pot holders and ironing board pads
  • Flame-proof oven mitts
  • Hair dryers
  • Floor tiles
  • Electrical wire insulation
  • Textured paints
  • Toasters, space heaters and other household appliances
  • Furnaces and furnace door gaskets
  • Pipe and duct insulation

How does asbestos get into the air?
Asbestos law recognizes that even asbestos contained in such well-bonded materials as floor tiles and painted surfaces can become loose and airborne if these materials are cut, scraped, filed, sanded or removed. Asbestos litigation has found deadly asbestos fibers released from remodeling or demolition of buildings in San Diego, La Quinta, Coachella, Riverside and other Southern California cities.

Should I remove asbestos from my home?
Since asbestos removal is a complex and dangerous procedure, it should only be done by a licensed contractor with special training and equipment. Exposure through improper removal of asbestos may result in a significant increase in your health risks.

What asbestos risks are there in workplaces?
Our asbestos and mesothelioma lawyers have represented workers exposed in textiles, friction products, insulation and other building materials, and automotive brake and clutch repair work.

Is the causal relationship between asbestos and mesothelioma proven?
Asbestos attorneys have studied the connection between asbestos and mesothelioma for more than fifty years. Asbestos litigation has established that of all the forms of asbestos minerals, amphibole and serpentine asbestos, the most common forms of the fiber, lead to the development of malignant mesothelioma. The federal government has long acknowledged that the inhalation of all forms of asbestos fibers is associated with the development of both malignant and non-malignant asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis.