Causes of Mesothelioma
Did a doctor diagnose your medical condition as mesothelioma? Are you wondering how you developed the disease? Do you believe it is related to asbestos exposure or some other job-related exposure?
At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, our personal injury attorneys represent injured workers harmed through asbestos exposure to ensure they receive the financial compensation they will need to maintain their quality of life. Contact our law office at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form today to schedule a free consultation.
A Growing Medical Problem
Every year, 3000 new mesothelioma cases are reported in the U.S. Unfortunately, most patients fell prey to the disease due to asbestos exposure decades ago.
Many people are at risk of exposure. Asbestos is a known naturally occurring mineral harvested in mines throughout the world to produce asbestos-containing products.
Individuals at risk for developing the deadly disease include those working near mines producing or processing asbestos. Individuals who develop mesothelioma are usually around asbestos's daily operation that releases microscopic fibers and dust in the surrounding areas.
For those at risk of developing mesothelioma, asbestos is not the only threat. The condition has other causes too. Some risk factors associated with a person's lifestyle and genetic predisposition may render a person more likely to get this cancer.
It is essential to learn about the causes of mesothelioma to get immediate treatment when necessary and request federal assistance and financial compensation.
What Is Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that is caused when asbestos fibers are inhaled in a person.
When mesothelioma develops outside the mesothelium, it is referred to as mesothelioma cancer. In contrast, malignant mesothelioma develops within the mesothelial lining of the pleura or peritoneum. Therefore, doctors often diagnose pleura or peritoneum mesothelioma by identifying tumors.
Mesothelioma attacks the mesothelial lining surrounding many vital organs like the heart, lungs, and intestines.
These sacs or cells line various cavities and tissues, including the:
- Pleura (membranes covering the lung)
- Peritoneum (lining of the abdominal cavity
- Tunica vaginalis testis (a layer covering part of each testicle)
Since it's an aggressive and rapidly spreading cancer, mesothelioma is often synonymous with a death sentence. Currently, there is no cure for mesothelioma, although treatment methods are improving with every passing day.
Is Mesothelioma Always Fatal?
According to the National Cancer Institute, in most cases, the disease is fatal when it affects the lungs' pleura lining. Therefore, a person's chance of survival is meager. However, there have been instances in which patients have survived for decades after their diagnosis.
The disease is typically treated with surgery that includes removing the tumor and a small portion of the tissue around it. The procedure can be repeated several times depending on what stage the patient is at when diagnosed.
Sometimes, surgery cannot remove pleural mesothelioma. In these cases, radiation therapy or chemotherapy may be recommended to reduce mesothelioma symptoms such as pain and difficulty breathing.
However, since the condition has no known cure yet, these treatments help increase patients' comfort level rather than make their lives longer.
What Are the Primary Mesothelioma Causes?
Asbestos exposure is the primary cause of the deadly condition. In time, tiny fibers cause inflammation, scarring, and genetic changes that eventually lead to cancer.
Approximately 80% of the patients have been exposed to the mineral at some stage of their life. Asbestos fibers inflame the cells and cause irreversible damage and scarring.
Irrespective of their type, all asbestos leads to malignant mesothelioma. The kind of health problems caused by asbestos depends on the region the mineral fibers travel to in the body.
For instance, pericardial mesothelioma is caused when the fibers travel to the lining surrounding the heart. Likewise, peritoneal mesothelioma is caused by deposits of asbestos fibers in the peritoneum - the abdominal cavity's lining.
Types of Asbestos Exposure
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), asbestos exposure may be one or more of these three types:
Some people are directly exposed to asbestos in their workplaces, especially those working in the construction industry or navy ships, before the 1980s. Previously, asbestos-containing products were used widely in industrial trades, paints, automobile parts, and construction.
Therefore, people working in these industries experienced first-hand asbestos exposure, increasing the risk of mesothelioma. Some of these worksites with jobs that may increase the risk of asbestos exposure include:
- Chemical plants
- Construction sites
- Mining sites
- Automobile assembly plants
- Steel mills
- Power plants
- Asbestos mines
- Coal mines
Asbestos is still not banned nationally in the U.S., even though asbestos fibers and dust are known risk factors for mesothelioma. Thus, some individuals are still being exposed to asbestos, although the government has specific screening standards and workplace requirements in place.
Secondhand Exposure to Asbestos
Second hand asbestos exposure occurs when someone working in an asbestos-containing environment interacts with an individual outside. For instance, the clothes of an asbestos industry worker coming in contact with another person place them at an increased risk of developing mesothelioma, compromising the immune system.
In the past, many workers coming home from shipyards and power plants gave second hand asbestos exposure to their families, who later develop peritoneal or pleural mesothelioma.
Environmental Risk of Developing Mesothelioma
Since it is a naturally occurring mineral, asbestos can be present in the air around us. Therefore, asbestos exposure occurs all the time in the environment. Traditionally, the industries that worked with asbestos-containing materials released the mineral into the environment.
However, governments worldwide have enacted strict regulations to combat the risk of mesothelioma and other asbestos-associated diseases to minimize the number of cases in the future.
What Are the Chances of Developing Mesothelioma After Exposure to Asbestos?
Not everyone who has been exposed to asbestos develops mesothelioma. Even people who have had long-term exposure to asbestos for extended periods may not get the disease.
However, asbestos exposure remains the primary risk factor for mesothelioma, accounting for approximately 80% of all patients at high risk for developing the condition. In addition, many mesothelioma patients served in the U.S. military, primarily in the Navy, or had other industrial jobs that involved a high risk of asbestos exposure and a lack of safety regulations.
According to the National Cancer Institute, it often takes 20 to 60 years to develop the condition before the first symptoms appear. On average, 2% to 10% of those exposed to asbestos are diagnosed with mesothelioma at later stages when the mesothelial cells were exposed to asbestos for years.
Individuals identifying the first symptoms of mesothelioma should seek medical attention from a specialist as quickly as possible to stop its progression, if possible, through various treatment options and eliminate any increased risk of exposure.
Symptoms of Mesothelioma
The symptoms of the disease differ, depending on the patient's cancer location. For example, peritoneal mesothelioma affects the abdomen, so its symptoms include:
- Abdominal pain
- Weight loss
- Abdominal swelling
According to the American Cancer Society, malignant pleural mesothelioma symptoms include:
- Chest pain
- Weight loss
- Shortness of breath
- Painful coughing
- Tissue lumps underneath the skin in the chest region
Since this type of mesothelioma affects the lungs, the symptoms are concentrated in the area. On the other hand, pericardial mesothelioma is very rare. Therefore, its symptoms are not widely studied. However, since it affects the heart, some possible signs include chest pain and difficulty in breathing.
According to the Mayo Clinic, some men develop mesothelioma in the testicles (tunica vaginalis) - characterized by swelling in the testicle.
Mesothelioma Risk Factors
While asbestos might be the most common mesothelioma cause, some risk factors make people more prone to getting the disease. Here are some mesothelioma risk factors:
- Asbestos Exposure: A patient with a history of asbestos exposure is likely to get mesothelioma in the later stages of their life. For instance, veteran naval personnel responsible for painting or repair tasks on the ship are at a high risk of developing mesothelioma.
- Family History: If someone's family member has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, they also have a higher risk of getting asbestos-related cancer. The doctor can identify any genetic predisposition in their patient that could increase the risk of a family member's condition diagnosis.
- Genetic Predisposition: A study showed that a BAP1 gene mutation increases an individual's risk of getting mesothelioma. Any change or mutation in the BAP1 gene (Germline BAP1 mutations) can be passed down to descendants.
- Environmental Asbestos Exposure happens when the naturally-forming mineral found in rocks and soil releases into the air by weathering or human activity. Many minors are subjected to environmental conditions involving exposure to microscopic fibers
Mesothelioma Causes: Is Smoking a Risk Factor of Developing Mesothelioma?
Smoking exclusively does not lead to mesothelioma. However, a smoker with a history of asbestos exposure is at a higher risk of developing mesothelioma.
Cigarette smoke damages the structures inside and surrounding the lungs, obstructing airflow. Additionally, asbestos builds up in the lungs' lining, leading to cancer and cellular damage in the region.
The Cause of Mesothelioma Other Than Asbestos
According to healthcare experts, 80% of mesothelioma cases are a result of asbestos exposure. At the moment, it's the only confirmed mesothelioma cause. However, scientists have yet to identify precise mesothelioma causes that create genetic changes, leading to developing tumors.
According to the Mayo Clinic, since this cancer is quite rare, research on the disease has been limited. In addition, while some factors increase the risk of developing mesothelioma, they do not directly cause the condition.
According to the National Institute of Health, the simian virus 40 (SV40) is a DNA tumor virus that infects human mesothelioma cells in vitro.
For decades, scientists have known that asbestos is the primary cause of mesothelioma. Studies show that SV40 and asbestos are co-carcinogens that transform human mesothelial cells, leading to the deadly disease.
Does Zeolite Cause Mesothelioma?
Zeolite is a generic name for a group of minerals with a regular crystalline structure. There are over 40 different zeolite minerals; the most common is clinoptilolite, which makes up about 70 percent of all zeolites found in nature.
Zeolites have diverse uses, from water purification to household cleaning products, such as detergents and cleaners. They are also used in agriculture and science laboratories or hospitals because they absorb radioactive atoms and other toxic elements.
There is no proof of zeolite directly causing mesothelioma. However, its exposure may increase the risk of mesothelioma, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.
How Does a Person Get Mesothelioma?
The following steps explain how a person gets malignant mesothelioma:
A person is exposed to asbestos fibers environmentally or through their workplace. The asbestos fibers enter the body through inhalation.
Asbestos fibers travel through air passages in the body, depositing in the pleura or the lining of the lungs.
Asbestos fibers enter the abdominal cavity, penetrating the pericardium - the heart's lining - resulting in pericardial mesothelioma.
Whether they're in the lining of the lungs or the heart, these fibers cause inflammation and scarring. Since these fibers are minute, the body cannot destroy or excrete them.
Cancer takes about two to five decades to show symptoms. Along with causing cell damage through DNA alteration, asbestos fibers also set uncontrolled cell growth in action, forming a tumor.
Preventing Mesothelioma After Asbestos Exposure
If you have inhaled or ingested asbestos fibers, there's nothing you can do to remove those fibers from the body. However, the good news is that mesothelioma progression in the body is quite rare.
Even when mesothelioma cancer does develop, it does so very slowly, taking decades. So make sure you do not expose yourself to asbestos fibers excessively.
If you work in an asbestos-related industry, keep your clothes and belongings away from family members to prevent secondhand exposure.
It's also helpful to get tested for lung cancer along with mesothelioma if you suspect excessive asbestos exposure. Some older homes and buildings may still have traces of asbestos dust. If you live in an old property, consult a professional to inspect it.
People with mesothelioma can ask their healthcare providers for treatment options available to them. Timely medical advice can increase lifespan and may help lower discomfort in mesothelioma cases.
Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney to Handle Your Mesothelioma Case
Do you suspect that asbestos exposure led to your mesothelioma? Are you concerned that you developed your condition years ago, but it only recently exposed itself through your doctor's diagnosis?
At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, our personal injury attorneys specialize in workplace accidents and hold employers and third parties accountable for their negligence. Contact our law office at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) to use the contact form today to schedule a free consultation.
Let us discuss how we can ensure that your family receives the financial compensation they will need to maintain your quality of life. All sensitive or confidential information you share with our law office remains private through an attorney-client relationship.
Our legal team accepts all personal injury cases and wrongful death lawsuits through contingency fee agreements. This arrangement ensures that you do not pay any upfront fees. Instead, we are paid for services only after resolving your case through a negotiated settlement or jury trial award.
Surviving family members who lost a loved one through mesothelioma can file a wrongful death lawsuit. Our law firm ensures the family receives compensation for all hospitalization, medical bills, lost wages, future lost earnings, lost familial support, loss of companionship and consortium, pain, grief, suffering, and mental anguish.