Asbestos, a fiber used in many construction materials and insulation, has been extremely lethal to those who have inhaled its fibers and dust particles. The inhalation of asbestos can lead to a range of problems, some including asthma, asbestosis and mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma is a disease that attacks the membranes around the lungs, heart and abdominal cavity. The actual cells of the mesothelium become abnormal, dividing without order or control. According to the National Cancer Institute, the mesothelium is a membrane that protects and covers most of our body’s internal organs. The mesothelium has two layers of cells: one layer that immediately surrounds the organ, and another that forms a sac around it.
Mesothelioma is a rare cancer. It takes anywhere from 20 to 60 years for someone to begin to develop symptoms. Those who are most susceptible to mesothelioma are people who worked in asbestos mines, employees in construction companies, shipyard employees and people who manufactured asbestos products. Men are affected three to five times more by this disease than women. In any year, around 2,000 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma.
The two most common types of mesothelioma are peritoneal mesothelioma (abdomen organs) and pleural mesothelioma (lung cancer), the most common type of mesothelioma.
In the beginning stages of mesothelioma, there are only a few symptoms. When the cancer becomes more advanced, more symptoms are present. Some of the symptoms of mesothelioma include:
- Chronic coughing
- Chest pain
- Coughing up blood
- Shortness of breath
- Weight loss
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Infection in the lungs
- Loss of appetite
Like most forms of cancer, if detected early on, mesothelioma can be treated with chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery and/or photodynamic therapy. Chemotherapy is the use of anticancer drugs that kill cancer cells in the body. Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays to kill cancer cells and is also used to shrink tumors. Radiation can come from a machine or from putting materials through thin plastic tubes that produce radiation. Surgery is one of the most common treatments for mesothelioma.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were about 1,500 people who died from asbestos in 2000. Asbestos can still be found in more than 3,000 products (including insulation in older buildings).
The National Cancer Institute says that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration set limits for appropriate and acceptable levels of asbestos exposure in the workplace. Now people who work with asbestos wear personal protective equipment in order to lower their risk of exposure to asbestos. However, the risk of diseases associated with asbestos increases as the exposure to asbestos is heavier and longer. There have been cases where individuals having a little exposure to asbestos still develop mesothelioma.
Victims of asbestos exposure may be entitled to damages such as costs of medical bills and lost wages because many of the manufacturers of these asbestos containing products knew of asbestos dangers but failed to adequately warn purchasers, employers and their employees. In asbestos lawsuits or mesothelioma lawsuits, typical parties that may be responsible include leasing agents, landlords, asbestos manufacturers, employers and asbestos installers. In some cases, punitive damages may be awarded to punish the defendants if they had advanced knowledge of the asbestos dangers but failed to protect or warn others of these dangers.
Mesothelioma can be a deadly disease, and it requires a skilled mesothelioma attorney to assist you in filing a potential claim. The Georgia laws governing mesothelioma lawsuits are very strict and must be carefully followed in order to bring a viable claim. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you may want to contact our Georgia mesothelioma lawyers at Childers, Schlueter & Smith, LLC to see how we can help protect your legal rights.