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Mesothelioma: The Health And Legal Factors

Updated on March 20, 2011

Mesothelioma is a very rare type of cancer where malignant cells develop in the mesothelium which is the protective tissue that acts as an envelope for most of the internal organs in the human body. If you suspect that you may have been exposed to the risk factors for mesothelioma, you should seek out a lawyer, barrister, attorney or solicitor with experience in these cases.

The mesothelium is composed of a dual layer of live cells. The innermost layer is the one that is closest to the organ itself, while the second layer forms an enveloping sac around the organ. The mesothelium secretes a fluid which is utilized for lubrication between those two layers. This lubricating fluid allows organ which constantly move, such as the lungs and heart, to minimize their friction against any organs that are adjacent.

When some of the cells of the mesothelium start to divide without any order or control, they are now abnormal and can grow into and injure adjacent organs and tissues. These mesothelioma cells can also spread, or metastasize, from their point of origin in the mesothelium to various areas of the human body.

Surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy are the standard treatments indicated for mesothelioma. In mesothelioma surgery, the surgeon may choose to remove at least part of the mesothelium which surrounds the abdomen or chest. The mesothelium which surrounds the abdomen is known as the peritoneum and the pleura is the corresponding mesothelium structure in the torso. Chemotherapy is usually administered through direct vein injection, although recent medical research is demonstrating the efficacy of placing the chemicals utilized in mesothelioma chemotherapy directly into the chest or abdominal cavity. Radiation therapy utilizes high energy rays to reduce the size of the tumors and kill off many of the abnormal malignant cells. Both internal mesothelioma radiation therapy where the radioactive materials are inserted into the body through thin plastic tubes and external mesothelioma radiation therapy which utilizes a large radiation machine are applied in mesothelioma therapies. Physicians may also choose to drain fluid that has built up in the body of a mesothelioma patient via thoracentesis from the chest or paracentesis from the abdomen.

Approximately two thousand new cases of this fairly rare type of cancer are reported each year in the United States. Research has shown that approximately 75% of all diagnosed cases of mesothelioma are connected to a patient's previous exposure to asbestos. This substance had been extensively used in a wide range of industrial products, including insulation, roof shingles, automotive brake linings, cement, and flooring products. Asbestos can be released as microscopic particles in the air and are then swallowed or inhaled, leading to mesothelioma as well as asbestosis, and lung, kidney and larynx cancers.

There are countless thousands of individuals in the United States who have been exposed to what can be termed dangerous levels of asbestos and are now at a much higher risk of developing mesothelioma. Any person who has a working background in an area which had an abnormally high concentration or airborne asbestos may be eligible to become part of various class action suits, or to directly sue the company that exposed them to the asbestos. Contacting a local lawyer, barrister, attorney or solicitor with experience in mesothelioma cases could result in a significant cash settlement.

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    • Hal Licino profile image

      Hal Licino 9 years ago from Toronto

      The microscopic particles of asbestos cling to alveoli and other sensitive lung structures and can stay there for a lifetime, therefore, it could be possible! Yikes!

    • Chef Jeff profile image

      Chef Jeff 9 years ago from Universe, Milky Way, Outer Arm, Sol, Earth, Western Hemisphere, North America, Illinois, Chicago.

      It's hard to believe they had asbestos all over the various schools I attended as a child! It wrapped up the pipes, and we used it with our bunsen burners. We used to dig into it with pencils to see what was hiding underneath it - usually we found ant's nests and cockroaches, and sometimes a mummified mouse.

      Even when I was older there was asbestos openly exposed in our barracks. I had a terminal end of the heating system in my room. The stopped pipe was wrapped in ratty old sheets of asbestos covered with linen wraps. This was then painted with dingy yellow paint - probably lead based!

      Every time I cough I wonder if there is some residue in my lungs????