Misconceptions about Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma is not lung cancer
One of the most common areas of the body where mesothelioma develops is the lung, and because of this, many misunderstand mesothelioma to be a type of lung cancer. In actuality, mesothelioma is cancer of the mesothelium – found in the lining of the heart, lungs, abdomen, or internal reproductive organs. Pleural mesothelioma, the most common type, refers to cancer in the mesothelium surrounding the lungs and chest cavity (known as the pleura). Pleural mesothelioma can be difficult to diagnose correctly, as symptoms not only appear in the later stages of the disease, they often mimic other conditions, such as respiratory problems generally associated with lung cancer. While asbestos is the only known cause of mesothelioma, lung cancer can also develop from asbestos exposure, especially in those who have received an asbestosis diagnosis.
The amount of asbestos exposure matters in your cancer diagnosis.
Many believe that if their asbestos exposure was small, they are not at risk for developing lung cancer, mesothelioma, or asbestosis, later in life. While it is true that the chances of developing an asbestos-related disease is greater in those who were exposed for longer periods of time, this does not mean those with minor past asbestos exposures will not develop asbestos-caused diseases . The U.S Environmental Protection Agency and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have stated that there is no safe level of asbestos exposure; setting the permissible exposure limit to 0.1f/cc (fibers per cubic centimeters). The long latency period between exposures an illness also contributes to workers not being able to connect their cancer to asbestos exposure. It may be 20 or more years between the time of exposure and illness.
Mesothelioma only affects older men
Many of the industries responsible for asbestos use and exposure like shipyards, steel mills, coal mines, and factories were predominately occupied by men, and since mesothelioma can take decades to develop, many of these men who were exposed in their early 20s were not diagnosed until their 50s, 60s, and even 70s. This has led many to believe that mesothelioma strictly affects “old men,” but the reality is the number of mesothelioma cases among women and younger people continues to rise over the years. Bystander exposures have affected the family of workers who dealt with asbestos, as the tiny fibers are brought home on their work clothes, tools, boots, and even in the hair. Wives have contracted mesothelioma by doing their husband’s laundry; children through something as simple as a hug.
Mesothelioma cannot be treated
There is no cure for mesothelioma, but that does not mean treatments are not available to slow the disease progression and alleviate the cancer symptoms. Surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and gene therapy are all viable options for those suffering from mesothelioma – depending on their stage in the disease. Immunotherapy treatments are on the rise; working with the body’s own immune system to repair and rejuvenate healthy cells to better fight the cancer. Mesothelioma patients can also participate in clinical trials, which are research studies completed with the help of human volunteers. Clinical trials play an integral part in providing access to new and novel treatment regimens for mesothelioma patients.
In 2004, the American Thoracic Society called asbestos “the largest cause of occupational cancer in the United States…”, but despite this, many people injured by asbestos are unaware of the connection between their disease and asbestos exposure. The lack of knowledge regarding the presence of asbestos in the work place has allowed workers to remain unprotected, as asbestos companies and manufacturers continued to down-play and ignore the issue. At Goldberg, Persky & White, P.C., we understand that your suffering could have been entirely prevented and will work hard to make sure you receive the compensation you deserve. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.