Malignant mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer in the lining of the lungs or abdomen. The only known cause of malignant mesothelioma is asbestos exposure. When asbestos fibers are inhaled or ingested, the body is unable to break them down or expel them. Asbestos fibers invade the protective lining that surrounds many of the body’s internal organs and remain in the body, causing scarring and damaging sensitive tissues. That damage can eventually lead to malignant mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer, or another asbestos disease.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, you may be entitled to financial compensation from the companies that were responsible for your asbestos exposure. Contact us today to learn about your legal options for pursuing the compensation you and your family deserve.
How common is malignant mesothelioma?
Malignant mesothelioma is a relatively rare cancer. About 3,000 Americans are diagnosed with the disease each year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The typical latency period for mesothelioma (time between asbestos exposure and visible symptoms) can range from 15 to 60 years.
One study published in The Annals of Occupational Hygiene in 2003 analyzed 796 cases of asbestos-related disease and found that the latency period was about three years less for asbestosis versus mesothelioma. Patients with latency periods of less than 20 years were extremely rare, accounting for only 3 percent of asbestosis cases and 2 percent of mesothelioma cases.
Causes of Mesothelioma
The only known cause of malignant mesothelioma is asbestos exposure. Asbestos is a fiber that was once widely used in hundreds of building, industrial, commercial, and housing products and is still present in millions of U.S. workplaces and homes. The risk of exposure to asbestos remains a very real danger. And symptoms of malignant mesothelioma do not appear for at least 15 years after asbestos exposure.
For those who worked with or around asbestos products, airborne fibers can be inhaled or ingested, lodging themselves in the tissue lining the lung (known as the pleura), chest cavity, or abdominal cavity. These fibers can stay in the body for decades before malignant mesothelioma develops.
There are six sub-classifications of asbestos: actinolite, amosite, anthophyllite, chrysotile, crocidolite, and tremolite. Asbestos, the commercial name given to these fibers, was a valuable material in several industries, particularly steel manufacturing and shipyards, in the early to mid-20th century. Asbestos easily separates when handled, causing microscopic particles to be released into the air and posing a danger to anyone in the vicinity. A vast majority of people diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma faced asbestos exposure on job sites.