For many people headed to the doctor, the biggest fear the potential of hearing the "c" word, cancer. Cancer in any form typically requires aggressive and expensive treatments, which can include radiation therapy, chemotherapy and even surgery. Thanks to advances in modern medicine, survival and remission rates for many kinds of cancer have gone up substantially in the last two decades. Early detection, advances in surgical technology and improved drugs give most people with a cancer diagnosis a fighting chance at a long life.
If you worked in a field where you have regular exposure to asbestos at work, the word you may most dread hearing from your doctor is likely mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that most medical professionals consider incredibly aggressive and deadly. While there are treatments that can reduce symptoms and increase life expectancy, there is no cure for mesothelioma at this time. That means that a mesothelioma diagnosis can result in major changes ahead for you and your family.
Asbestos exposure is the primary known cause of mesothelioma
Mesothelioma starts in the outer linings of your organs, often affecting the tissue around the lungs, called pleura. It can also occur in the abdomen and around the heart or testicles. For many people who receive a diagnosis of mesothelioma, exposure to asbestos, a group of silicate minerals, is linked to the development of this cancer.
Asbestos exposure is more common in certain kinds of professions, including people who worked with insulation (contractors, builders, maintenance professionals, etc.), factory workers and even automobile mechanics. While safety protocols have improved dramatically for those who work with or remove asbestos, it can take years or even decades for mesothelioma to develop after exposure. The more regular and intensive the exposure to asbestos, the more likely someone is to develop mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma can devastate your family and derail your life
A diagnosis of mesothelioma usually means that you will need to undergo invasive and expensive medical procedures. It also means you'll see massive medical bills, while likely feeling too ill to continue working. That can leave you unable to provide for yourself or your family. When you're the primary wage earner, that kind of setback can be particularly devastating. Who will pay the mortgage and ensure that your family has health insurance coverage? How will you continue to pay the bills when you can't work?
Depending on the nature of your asbestos exposure, you may have the option of pursuing a personal injury lawsuit or participating in a mass tort. Taking legal action won't get rid of your cancer, but it can help ensure that you have the ability to get treatment and that your family will be provided for, no matter how your illness progresses.