Mesothelioma: Frequently Asked Questions
What is mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is a cancer caused by asbestos exposure. It attacks the mesothelium, which is the lining around your internal organs. In most people mesothelioma affects the lungs, but in some it affects the organs in the abdomen.
Who can get mesothelioma?
Anyone who has been exposed to asbestos can get it. 70% to 80% of mesothelioma is caused by exposure in the workplace. People who work with asbestos and products that contain asbestos are at the highest risk, but exposure in the workplace can be the result of working in an old building that still contains materials made from asbestos, such as insulation or ceiling tiles. High risk jobs and industries include:
- Asbestos manufacturing
- Asbestos removal
- Oil refineries
- Automotive manufacturing and repair
- Appliance manufacturing
- Steel mills
- Power plants
- Rail roads
I don't think I've been around asbestos for years, can my illness really be caused by asbestos exposure?
Yes, it can take up to 50 years after exposure to develop mesothelioma.
Is mesothelioma contagious?
No, but if you were exposed to asbestos, anyone living with you at the time may have been exposed due to the asbestos brought home in your clothing, and should be tested.
Does asbestos exposure cause any other illnesses?
- Asbestosis - a non-cancerous, but very serious lung disease, which can lead to heart failure. It is difficult or impossible to treat and is often disabling or deadly.
- Lung cancer, not the same as mesothelioma, can also be caused by asbestosis.
Are there things that make mesothelioma more likely after asbestos exposure?
Yes, there are several factors which can increase your chances of developing mesothelioma or cancer:
- Radiation exposure - particularly exposure to thorium dioxide (Thorotrast)
- SV40 Virus - infection with simian virus 40
- Tobacco smoking - does not increase the likelihood of developing mesothelioma, but does increase the chance of developing asbestos-related lung cancer
Can mesothelioma be caused by something other than asbestos exposure?
Yes, zeolite is a mineral similar to asbestos. It is common in the soil in the Anatoli region of Turkey, and has been known to cause mesothelioma in people who live in that area.
What should I do if I think there is asbestos in my house now?
Call an asbestos abatement expert. Do not try to test or remove the asbestos on your own. Improper removal procedures can greatly increase asbestos exposure. An asbestos abatement professional can help you determine whether the asbestos should be removed or encapsulated. Encapsulation can be less expensive than removal and is sometimes safer.
Is mesothelioma fatal?
Yes. People who are diagnosed with mesothelioma are often told they have less than a year to live. However, early detection and treatment by cancer specialists can greatly improve your odds.
Is there a cure?
Unfortunately, no. However, in a few patients, when mesothelioma is detected early, surgery can remove most of the cancerous cells. Other traditional forms of treatment are chemotherapy and radiation therapy. New treatments are being researched. Alternative medicine is also an option, and can be especially helpful in pain management. Mesothelioma is very painful, and pain management typically makes up a large portion of treatment.
What should I do if I think I may have mesothelioma?
See your doctor and get tested right away. Contact an experienced asbestos exposure attorney, and get started on your case as soon as possible. Medical bills will rack up quickly, and you may be entitled to compensation which can help you pay for the advanced cancer treatment you will require if you have mesothelioma.
What if I mesothelioma, but don't know how I got it?
An attorney who has experience with mesothelioma cases can help you track down the source. Certain sites, where you may have lived or worked are known to be sources of asbestos exposure. A wide range of products, which you may not be aware of, can also be the source.
Will I be denied compensation because I am/was a smoker?
No. Smoking does not cause mesothelioma or asbestosis. It can increase your risk of lung cancer, but lung cancer can be caused by asbestos exposure alone.
If you or a loved one has mesothelioma, contact an experienced asbestos exposure attorney today.