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For years, there was growing evidence that asbestos was deadly, yet its use continued over a vast spectrum of industries and occupations. Sadly, these workers and their families exposed to this dangerous and toxic mineral were left to deal with the devastating consequences.

Mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer, results in thousands of deaths for those exposed to asbestos or asbestos-containing material. Even worse, to this day, the condition remains difficult to diagnose because of the length of time that it takes mesothelioma to develop, and the numerous symptoms that patients experience that resemble other respiratory diseases.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, do not tackle this devastating ordeal alone. Working with an experienced mesothelioma attorney is critical in helping you understand the legislation surrounding asbestos and what steps you need to take to begin legal proceedings.

At Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman, we know that patients dealing with mesothelioma have numerous questions and concerns, and often do not know who they can turn to for help. That is why our firm wants to provide you with these answers, hoping to offer you a better understanding of what mesothelioma is, the potential risks of developing mesothelioma, and how our legal team can help you through this challenging time if you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma.

What to Do After a Diagnosis

Victims diagnosed with mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure need to get experienced legal help; specifically, a lawyer who has been through this legal process before and can help these victims get the compensation they deserve.

What Exactly Is a Mesothelioma Lawyer?

A mesothelioma attorney focuses their practice, or part of it, on assisting victims of asbestos exposure pursuing compensation from companies that are responsible for this exposure. Mesothelioma attorneys usually have years of experience handling these types of claims, including Mesothelioma trust fund filings. In addition, these lawyers have the skills and resources to compete against large asbestos manufacturing corporations.

Mesothelioma Lawyers

Please call us today at (833) 700-MESO [6376], or contact us online, to schedule a free consultation and case evaluation with an experienced mesothelioma attorney at Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA.

Mesothelioma Lawsuits

Mesothelioma lawsuits are usually complicated. They involve an immense amount of research and evidence gathering, making sure to uncover an individual’s work history and linking it to potential asbestos exposure. It often includes investigating incidents that occurred decades earlier.

The two general types of mesothelioma lawsuits include:

  • Personal injury lawsuit: This lawsuit is filed by a person diagnosed with mesothelioma, often against businesses responsible for exposing them to the asbestos or failing to warn them about the dangers linked to inhaling asbestos particles. As a result, when these individuals sue, they are the recipients of the compensation awarded.
  • Wrongful death claim: This claim is brought by the estate of the deceased mesothelioma patient, seeking compensation to cover funeral expenses, medical bills, and lost income. Generally, when compensation is awarded in a wrongful death lawsuit, the estate is the recipient. However, if a patient files a personal injury lawsuit and passes away before the matter is resolved, the estate can continue the claim.

Why file a mesothelioma lawsuit? Mesothelioma lawsuits are critical for mesothelioma patients and their families. They can help reduce financial hardship and recoup some of the expenses these individuals face.

These lawsuits can often provide money for:

  • Medical treatments that are not covered by insurance
  • Lost income
  • Travel expenses
  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • End-of-life decisions
  • Pain and suffering that is related to the disease
  • Providing for a stable future for family and loved ones

 

Are you eligible to file a mesothelioma lawsuit?

To file a mesothelioma lawsuit, you must:

  • Document your mesothelioma diagnosis with medical reports from the hospital or cancer center where you or your family member was treated.
  • Document your asbestos exposure history, which caused your mesothelioma. This evidence can include detailed testimony and descriptions about the asbestos exposure, as well as employment records.
  • Show that you are within the statute of limitations, which, according to Florida, is four years from the date of diagnosis and two years from the date of death.

Talking to an experienced mesothelioma attorney can help you determine if you have a viable claim and whether you still have time to file a lawsuit for damages. It is important to remember that sometimes these lawsuits may take years to resolve, while settlements can take months. Your lawyer can help you decide if filing a lawsuit or taking a settlement is the right path for you, especially when you are coping with the stress of this terminal disease.

In general, if a defendant does not settle and a case goes to trial, the jury will decide if the defendant is liable or not liable. If they are found liable, then the trial verdict will include monetary compensation. For average settlements, amounts range anywhere from $1 million to $1.4 million, while trial payouts average about $2.4 million. However, because each case is unique, the amount of compensation you can receive depends on several factors.

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Mesothelioma - What is it?

Mesothelioma is a malignant tumor that results from inhaled asbestos fibers. It forms in the lining of the abdomen, lungs, or even the heart. However, even though treatments are available because mesothelioma is an aggressive and deadly form of cancer. Many patients with mesothelioma only live for approximately 12 months after diagnosis.

Mesothelioma Causes

Generally, cancer starts with a series of changes or mutations that happen in a cell’s DNA. The DNA contains instructions that indicate to the cell what it needs to do. However, these mutations cause the cell to multiply and grow out of control. As a result, abnormal cells accumulate and form a tumor.

Unfortunately, it is still not clear what causes the initial genetic mutation that causes mesothelioma. However, many times cancers form because of several factors, including the environment, inherited conditions, health conditions, and lifestyle choices.

Mesothelioma Risk Factors

A significant majority of mesothelioma diagnoses are considered to be related to asbestos exposure. Asbestos is a mineral that is found naturally in the environment. The asbestos fibers are strong, resistant to heat, and used in various applications, including brakes, insulation, shingles, flooring, and other products. Yet, even though it is found naturally. When asbestos is broken up, and the dust is inhaled or swallowed, the asbestos fibers settle in the stomach or the lungs and cause irritations that lead to mesothelioma.

Specific factors that can increase the risk of mesothelioma include:

  • Asbestos exposure history: The risk of mesothelioma is higher if you have a personal history of being directly exposed to asbestos fibers at home or at work.
  • Family history of mesothelioma: If your parent, child, or sibling has or had mesothelioma, there is an increased risk of this disease.
  • Residing with an individual who works with asbestos: Individuals exposed to asbestos can carry these asbestos fibers home with them on their clothing or skin. When these individuals are exposed to these fibers over many years, it can end up putting their home at risk for mesothelioma. That is why it is imperative if you work with high levels of asbestos to change clothes and shower before leaving work. This can reduce the risk of bringing these asbestos fibers home.
  • Chest radiation therapy: Those individuals who had radiation therapy for cancer in their chest may have an increased risk of mesothelioma.

Many individuals exposed to asbestos will never develop mesothelioma. This may indicate that other factors also play a significant role in determining whether an individual will get mesothelioma, such as an inherent predisposition to cancer.

Mesothelioma Trust Funds

A mesothelioma trust fund, also known as an asbestos trust fund, is a fund created on behalf of negligent asbestos companies that have declared bankruptcy. Often, numerous mesothelioma lawsuits had been filed against these companies before or after their bankruptcy.

The purpose of these trusts was not to allow these companies to escape liability, but rather to protect future mesothelioma patients and help claimants get the compensation they deserve by setting money aside for them. Most of these trust funds often have millions of dollars set aside and, in some cases, even billions.

If you develop mesothelioma due to exposure to an asbestos product by a business or company that went bankrupt, your claim is processed through the company’s trust fund instead of going through the court system. One of the most significant benefits of these mesothelioma trust fund claims is they are quicker to process than mesothelioma lawsuits. Most times, claimants can receive compensation within a couple of months of filing a claim.

Mesothelioma trust funds- Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Mesothelioma trust funds created through Chapter 11 bankruptcy:

  • Allow individuals to file a claim with the trust fund instead of going through the courts and suing the company.
  • These trust funds are funded with enough money to compensate for today’s claims and any future claims.
  • Are established through bankruptcy courts and help those patients with all types of asbestos-related diseases.

Another critical aspect to note about these trust funds is that mesothelioma patients can file claims against one or more trusts. However, the process may require a physician statement, an asbestos exposure summary, and the ability to provide detailed medical records.

An experienced and knowledgeable asbestos attorney can provide you with a list of these trust funds and help walk you through the whole trust fund process.

Mesothelioma trust funds- Chapter 7 bankruptcy. In situations where a company did not have enough financial standing to reorganize and establish a trust fund, they ended up filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation. Through Chapter 7 bankruptcy, these asbestos manufacturers sold off all of their assets, and the courts distributed the money to those who needed it.

Who is eligible to file a mesothelioma trust fund claim? Only specific individuals exposed to asbestos and developed mesothelioma or another asbestos-related condition can tap into these trust funds.

Those individuals who may submit a mesothelioma trust fund claim include:

  • Individuals who have used asbestos-containing products
  • Workers exposed to asbestos or asbestos-related materials by their employer
  • Family members who have lost their loved one due to asbestos exposure

Mesothelioma trust fund claim criteria. Each mesothelioma trust fund creates its own set of required criteria that needs to be met before anyone can file a claim.

However, typically, the following criteria are required:

  • Medical proof of an asbestos-related diagnosis.
  • Proof of when the asbestos exposure occurred.
  • Proof of where the asbestos exposure occurred.
  • Proof or evidence about the asbestos products you were exposed to.
  • Proof that you have met the statute of limitations for filing a claim.

What are some available mesothelioma trust funds? There are dozens of asbestos companies that have set up mesothelioma trust funds.

The following list includes some of the largest mesothelioma trust funds for mesothelioma patients and their families in the United States:

  • United States Gypsum Trust- $3.9 billion
  • Owens Corning Corporation Trust -$3.4 billion
  • Pittsburgh Corning Corporation Trust- $3.4 billion
  • W.R. Grace and Co. Trust- $2.9 billion
  • DII Industries Trust- $2.5 billion
  • Johns-Manville Corporation Trust- $2.5 billion
  • Armstrong World Industries Trust- $2 billion
  • Western Asbestos (Western MacArthur) Trust- $2 billion
  • Babcock & Wilcox Trust- $1.8 billion
  • Owens Corning Fibreboard Subfund Trust- $1.5 billion

How is compensation determined from a mesothelioma trust fund? If you are a mesothelioma patient looking for compensation from a mesothelioma trust fund, several factors will determine the amount of money you receive.

These factors include:

  • The type of asbestos-related disease diagnosed. (Mesothelioma often tends to have more massive payouts.)
  • The current payment percentage that is set for the trust.
  • The payment schedule that the trust fund initially established.

Each of these trust funds assigns claim values to the various types of asbestos-related diseases. This is referred to as a “schedule.” These schedule values are often based on how much compensation the business paid to asbestos claimants before filing for bankruptcy. Generally, the schedule value for mesothelioma claims across all trusts range from $7,000 to $1.2 million and have a median value of $180,000.

However, before you file a mesothelioma trust fund claim, you need to speak with an attorney. They can help you go over all of your options, and decide if you should file a lawsuit, pursue social security disability insurance, veterans benefits, personal insurance, etc.

Trust fund payment percentages. Payment percentages in a trust fund prevent the mesothelioma trust fund from running out of funds and preserve money for future victims. As a result, the asbestos trust fund payouts are a particular percentage of the claim. Some of these mesothelioma trust funds have a payment percentage of 100 percent, while others have a much lower payment percentage between 1 percent and 2 percent.

These payment percentages also fluctuate. This means that if a payment percentage increases, many trusts will pay prior claimants to make up the difference. However, if a rate decreases, then previous claimants do not have to pay back the difference. Consequently, there is no benefit to waiting to file a trust fund claim.

Occupations With High Rates of Mesothelioma

Many individuals have heard of asbestos but may have no idea if they were ever exposed to these harmful asbestos fibers. In other situations, employees may know they are exposed to asbestos but are uncertain about the level of exposure they endure daily. Knowing this information and your asbestos exposure is critical in helping you determine your risk of developing mesothelioma in the future.

According to the CDC, almost 70 percent of mesothelioma cases are work-related. Occupations that pose the greatest risk of developing mesothelioma after asbestos exposure include:

Shipyard Workers

Shipyard workers tend to use asbestos-containing materials while they work on building and preparing ships. Unfortunately, because of the significant risk that fire poses for a boat or ship at sea. These asbestos materials are found nearly everywhere, including the vessels, insulation, valves, and pipe coverings. As asbestos was used so widely on ships, these shipyard workers have the highest risk of developing mesothelioma.

Engineers

Engineers work in a variety of industries. Yet, even if they do not work directly with asbestos or asbestos-containing products. They do supervise and work with employees who do handle this toxic mineral. As a result, their exposure relates to working near those that handle asbestos.

Construction Workers

Another occupation that presents its employees with a high exposure rate to asbestos is the construction industry. The CDC estimates that 1.3 million construction workers come into contact with asbestos each year. Why is this? Because these workers are often inside older homes or buildings where asbestos was used as a strengthener and a fire retardant. These asbestos-containing materials include things such as joint compound, floor tiles, plaster, and siding.

Farmers

The farming industry tends to show high rates of asbestos exposure, affecting poultry farmers, dairy farmers, and agricultural equipment operators. This exposure happens during operation or repairs of farming equipment that contain asbestos components. Additionally, these farmers are also exposed during renovations or deterioration of old farming buildings or when working near naturally occurring asbestos when land is disturbed.

Industrial Workers

Industrial workers often work in power plants and factories. This means that these workers are in areas where chemical exposure or high heat is relatively standard. These industrial workers come in contact with this dangerous mineral while handling gaskets, valves, refractory products, and even a particular type of protective clothing meant to resist high temperatures.

HVAC Workers

These HVAC workers, pipefitters, and boilermakers work in tight spaces where asbestos was often used. They include areas like residential homes, large boilers, and inside public buildings. Additionally, these HVAC workers are exposed to high concentrations of airborne asbestos fibers while performing work, maintenance, installations, or repairs on boilers installed decades ago that contain asbestos materials.

Machine Operators

Many machine operators work in plants and factories that operate heavy equipment like cranes and bulldozers. Consequently, these machine operators frequently come into contact with high-friction asbestos materials or products, such as brake linings. In addition, these machine operators also use many tools to drill, scrape, or cut asbestos-containing materials, which release asbestos fibers in the air.

Certain Military Personnel

Merchant Mariners associated with the U.S Navy spent a lot of their time aboard boats. Asbestos was regularly found throughout these ships, especially in the engine or boiler room, due to the heat generated in these areas. As a result, many mariners developed mesothelioma.

Mechanics

Many types of mechanics often come into contact with asbestos, including heavy equipment, aircraft, and auto mechanics. This is primarily because they are working with friction parts or performing brake jobs. Even though most manufacturers today have moved away from using asbestos-containing brake materials, mechanics are still exposed to the asbestos when they work on imported automotive products or older vehicles.

Metalworkers

Asbestos is often sprayed on metal beams to act as a fire retardant and attach to metal materials that are drilled, bent, and shaped by these metalworkers. Asbestos is also found in welding rods, protective clothing, and some plasters that these metal workers use.

Railroad Workers

During the 20th century, asbestos was widely used in the railroad industry. This mineral was found in the train cars’ flooring, brake pads, steam engines, and rail ties. Many railroad workers got sick from this constant exposure.

Today, these railroad workers can also face continued exposure to the naturally occurring mineral while digging new rail lines.

Oil Refinery Workers

Petroleum or oil refinery workers process the oils and fuels that individuals in the United States use daily, including diesel fuel, paraffin, gasoline, plastics, and kerosene. Consequently, these workers are exposed to asbestos inside these old electrical products, their protective clothing, cement, and thermal insulation. Sadly, because these oil refinery workers face prolonged asbestos exposure, they experience a high death rate due to mesothelioma.

Firefighters

Firefighters are quite likely to come into contact with airborne asbestos fibers. Generally, older buildings and homes contain different asbestos products, such as tiling, roofing materials, consumer goods, and insulation. As a result, these firefighters have to deal with repeated exposures as they respond to emergencies. Studies even indicate that firefighters are twice as likely to develop mesothelioma compared to the general public.

Hairdressers

Many people do not realize it, but hairdressers are also at a high risk of coming into contact with asbestos fibers. This is because of their frequent and prolonged use with hairdryers that contain asbestos as an insulator. Even though today, hairdryers no longer use asbestos, studies show that older hair dryers (produced before the late 1970s) did release toxic asbestos fibers into the air.

This list only contains a few of the many occupations that are at risk of developing mesothelioma. In fact, the World Health Organization believes that every year, more than 125 million people worldwide are exposed to asbestos while working. Despite federal regulations trying to protect workers from unnecessary asbestos exposure. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) both state that there is no safe level of occupational asbestos exposure.

Mesothelioma Prevention

Asbestos exposure is the largest risk factor for mesothelioma. Therefore, the best way to reduce your risk of getting mesothelioma is to limit exposure to asbestos at your home, at work, and in public buildings.

Workplace Prevention

If you are exposed to asbestos in the workplace, you need to follow all the necessary and required safety precautions mandated by your job and employer. These guidelines can include wearing protective equipment, changing out of work clothes, and even showering before heading home.

At Home

If you reside in an older building or home, it may contain asbestos. Do not try to remove this mineral on your own, as it is even more dangerous to remove asbestos than to leave it intact. When you break it up, asbestos fibers become airborne and can be inhaled. In these situations, as long as the mineral is not disturbed or damaged, the fibers will not be released in the air and should not cause you any issues.

However, it is best to consult experts that can test the air and determine the risk of your asbestos exposure and how harmful it is to your health. If you decide to remove the asbestos, you need to speak with a qualified contractor. They are best situated to perform this removal while avoiding contaminating your home or causing any exposure risk to the workers and your family.

Commercial and Public Buildings

The same concept applies to asbestos found in commercial or public buildings. If it is left undisturbed and intact, materials that contain asbestos will generally not pose the public with a health risk. It only becomes an issue if the materials are disturbed, damaged, or are deteriorating, and the asbestos fibers are released in the air. Federal law mandates that schools inspect their asbestos-containing materials regularly and have a plan to manage them.

Common Injuries/Diseases Associated With Mesothelioma

Types of Mesothelioma

The four types of mesothelioma are defined by their tumor location. They include peritoneal mesothelioma, pleural mesothelioma, pericardial mesothelioma, and testicular mesothelioma.

Pleural mesothelioma. This is the most common type of mesothelioma. Almost 70 percent to 75 percent of all mesothelioma cases occur in the pleura.

Characteristics of this mesothelioma include:

  • Primary location: Located in the pleural lining or the chest.
  • Common symptoms: Main symptoms include shortness of breath, chest pain, fever, abdominal pain and swelling, nausea, weight loss, and fatigue.
  • Prognosis: If an individual partakes in treatment, the prognosis is three years at Stage 1 versus 12 months at Stage 4.
  • Treatments: Chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, surgery, and experimental therapies.

Peritoneal mesothelioma. Peritoneal Mesothelioma accounts for 10 percent to 20 percent of all mesothelioma cases. Yet, even though there is less research on this type of mesothelioma, the prognosis is often better.

Characteristics of this mesothelioma include:

  • Primary location: Located in the lining of the abdomen or the peritoneum.
  • Common symptoms: Main symptoms include abdominal pain and swelling, loss of appetite, bowel changes, and bloating.
  • Prognosis: 52 percent of those diagnosed live at least five years after surgery with HIPEC.
  • Treatments: Surgery and heated chemotherapy (HIPEC).

Pericardial mesothelioma. This type of mesothelioma is extremely rare. In fact, only around 200 cases are reported in the medical literature.

Characteristics of this mesothelioma include:

  • Primary location: Located in the lining of the heart or the pericardium.
  • Common symptoms: Main symptoms include chest pain, irregular heartbeat, cough, and difficulty breathing.
  • Prognosis: The prognosis ranges anywhere from six weeks to 15 months.
  • Treatments: Surgery and Chemotherapy

Testicular mesothelioma. Testicular mesothelioma is also very rare, with only 100 cases reported in the medical literature. This tumor will usually develop in the lining of the testes.

Characteristics of this mesothelioma include:

  • Primary location: It forms in the tunica vaginalis, which is the lining covering the testes
  • Common symptoms: Main symptoms include painless testicular lumps and scrotal swelling.
  • Prognosis: The prognosis typically is two years.
  • Treatments: Surgery and chemotherapy.

Types of Mesothelioma Cells

There are also three mesothelioma cell varieties: sarcomatoid, epithelial, and biphasic. Doctors will look under a microscope to tell the difference between them to classify each cell correctly as each mesothelioma tumor requires a different type of treatment plan. Usually, epithelial cells respond best to treatments, while sarcomatoid cells are the most resistant.

Epithelial cell mesothelioma. Epithelial Cell Mesothelioma makes up almost 70 percent to 75 percent of all asbestos-related mesothelioma cancers. Typically, asbestos exposure can mutate epithelial cells, which then become cancerous.

These epithelial cell types are identified by their clumping properties and a cubic to square appearance. The nucleus, or the area of the cell containing the genetic material, is also clearly visible. Because epithelioid cells adhere closely together and lack mobility, they are less likely to spread than sarcomatoid cells. This is one of the reasons that epithelial cell mesothelioma has the best prognosis.

Characteristics of epithelial cell mesothelioma include:

  • Symptoms: Early and late symptoms include hoarseness, shortness of breath, persistent dry cough, coughing up blood, low blood oxygen levels, and anemia, feeling full without eating, weight loss, lack of appetite and nausea, fatigue, and weakness.
  • Treatments: Epithelial mesothelioma tends to respond best to treatments. They include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and multimodal therapies.
  • Prognosis: The median survival of epithelioid mesothelioma is 18 months. However, with aggressive treatments, this length of time can increase.

Sarcomatoid mesothelioma. Sarcomatoid mesothelioma, caused by asbestos exposure, is the least common mesothelioma cell category. It accounts for around 10 percent to 20 percent of all mesothelioma diagnoses. Sarcomatoid mesothelioma, also referred to as sarcomatous, diffuse, or spindle malignant fibrous mesothelioma, is quite aggressive. It tends to metastasize quickly and is extremely difficult to treat.

Nearly all sarcomatoid mesothelioma are pleural. The fibrous and diffuse names refer to how the tumor appears within the pleural membrane surrounding the lining of the chest cavity and the lungs. These sarcomatoid tumors can merge to form a sheet-like, fibrous mass on the pleural membrane.

Characteristics of sarcomatoid mesothelioma include:

  • Symptoms: Prolonged hoarseness, shortness of breath, coughing up blood, persistent cough, low blood oxygen levels, weight loss and weakness, anemia, abdominal fullness, lack of appetite, nausea, fatigue, and extreme tiredness.
  • Treatments: Surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy.
  • Prognosis: The median survival for patients with sarcomatoid tumors is usually less than six months, but some individuals may live longer.

Biphasic mesothelioma. Biphasic mesothelioma contains both epithelial and sarcomatoid cells. The life expectancy for this mesothelioma depends on which cell predominates the tumor. In general, the more epithelioid cells there are, the better the prognosis.

Characteristics of biphasic mesothelioma include:

  • Symptoms: Shortness of breath, tightness in the chest, chest pain, weight loss, fever, and night sweats.
  • Treatments: Surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy.
  • Prognosis: Prognosis depends on the ratio of epithelial and sarcomatoid cells present in each case. However, on average, the lifespan is between 15 months and 22 months.

Mesothelioma Tumors: Malignant versus Benign

Mesothelioma tumors are also identified as benign or malignant. A benign tumor is slow-growing and typically will not begin to metastasize, or grow and spread to other areas of the body. These tumors appear in the form of a single mass, instead of spreading and forming a sheet-like formation as malignant tumors tend to do. In comparison, a malignant tumor is considered dangerous and deadly.

These cells grow and divide uncontrollably and quickly; these tumors destroy tissues and spread to other parts of the body.

  • Malignant tumors: Most mesothelioma diagnoses are malignant. Malignant mesothelioma is not only difficult to diagnose, but also has a long latency period. Individuals with malignant mesothelioma tend to face a poor prognosis and have limited treatment options.
  • Benign tumors: Benign tumors are not very prevalent and, as a result, are not very well understood. In some cases, these benign tumors have the potential to become malignant. Surgery is often the best course of action. Once these tumors are removed, they have a low rate of recurrence.

Mesothelioma Stages

There are four stages of mesothelioma. The early stages tend to offer a more hopeful prognosis than the later stages. Unfortunately, because of the long latency period and the general symptoms of this disease, most mesothelioma patients are usually not diagnosed until Stage 3 or Stage 4.

It is also important to note that only malignant pleural mesothelioma has an approved staging system.

Stage 1. This is the earliest stage of the mesothelioma disease. During this stage, the cancer is still localized to one part of the body, most likely in the lungs’ lining, and has not spread to the lymph nodes or the nearby organs. Patients rarely experience any symptoms at this stage, which makes it more difficult to diagnose mesothelioma early. Those patients diagnosed at Stage 1 have the best chance of survival, with an average survival rate of 21 to 40 months.

Stage 1 mesothelioma characteristics include:

  • Localization
  • There is no metastasis or lymph node involvement
  • There are curative treatment options
  • It has the best prognosis
  • Symptoms may include persistent cough, chest pain, shortness of breath, fever, and fatigue

Stage 2. Mesothelioma Stage 2 also indicates an early stage of the disease. During this stage, there is limited localized metastasis to the tissues near the primary tumor and organs. If a patient is diagnosed during this earlier stage, they will have more treatment options available, including curative surgery. Even though the prognosis at this stage remains relatively poor, with more aggressive treatments, there is a greater chance of extending survival.

Stage 2 mesothelioma characteristics include:

  • Localization
  • The tumor has metastasized but has minimal spread to the lymph nodes
  • There are curative treatment options
  • Symptoms may include persistent cough, chest pain, shortness of breath, unexplained weight loss, fever, and fatigue

Stage 3. Most mesothelioma patients are not correctly diagnosed until Stage 3 because of the long latency period and late-onset symptoms. At this point, the cancer has spread past where the tumors have originated, yet the tumors remain localized to one side of the body. However, as the spreading is more distant, the available treatment options are somewhat limited. Many patients end up receiving only palliative care. Prognosis tends to be 16 months on average.

Stage 3 mesothelioma characteristics include:

  • Localized to one side of the body
  • The tumor has spread to nearby organs and the lymph nodes
  • The treatment options usually include palliative and non-surgical care
  • Symptoms may include difficulty breathing, chest pain, shortness of breath, fluid buildup in the abdomen, heart, or lungs, fever, fatigue, and weight loss

Stage 4. Since malignant mesothelioma is so difficult to detect, many patients who finally get diagnosed are already at Stage 4, the most advanced stage. Stage 4 mesothelioma indicates the cancer has spread beyond the initial location and into the abdomen, chest cavity, lymph nodes, and into distant organs and even the brain. Due to the severity, the average life expectancy is about 12 months, and curative treatments may no longer be an option.

Stage 4 mesothelioma characteristics include:

  • It has spread to both sides of the body
  • The tumor has spread to multiple organs, blood vessels, and lymph nodes
  • Treatment options are generally palliative
  • Symptoms may include night sweats, fever, chest tightness and pain, difficulty breathing and shortness of breath, abdominal pain, fluid accumulation, weight loss, difficulty swallowing, and coughing up blood.

Types of Mesothelioma Treatments

Mesothelioma is commonly treated with a combination of chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery. These treatments not only reduce a patient’s symptoms, but they aim to improve life expectancy as well.

Surgery. This treatment plan aims to remove as much cancer as possible, especially when caught at the early stages. However, it also provides palliative care for those patients that have mesothelioma in the later stages. Surgery often targets fluid buildup in the chest cavity, abdominal cavity, and the pleural space.

Chemotherapy. Chemotherapy is a standard mesothelioma treatment that can be used before or after surgery to shrink mesothelioma tumors or kill any remaining cancer cells. This treatment plan is often recommended for patients with rare cancers and comes with several unpleasant side effects. However, this treatment option can improve a patient’s quality of life and reduce symptoms while potentially extending their lifespan. Chemotherapy can be used on its own or used in conjunction with radiation therapy or surgery.

Radiation therapy. Radiation therapy is a non-invasive mesothelioma treatment that can reduce the size of tumors and alleviate symptoms. This therapy is a standard mesothelioma treatment option that targets and destroys cancerous mesothelioma cells and prevents them from reproducing. Many times patients undergo radiation therapy as part of a multimodal plan that includes surgery and chemotherapy. In addition, radiation therapy is also used as a palliative treatment option for patients with advanced mesothelioma stages.

Multimodal treatment. The multimodal treatment plan is a combination of several standard treatment options and emerging mesothelioma treatments. For example, one of the most successful multimodal approaches for peritoneal mesothelioma includes surgery with HIPEC, a form of intraoperative chemotherapy.

Many of these emerging treatments are offering mesothelioma patients much promise, including:

  • Immunotherapy
  • Epigenetic Therapy
  • Photodynamic Therapy
  • Gene therapy
  • Mesothelioma Virotherapy
  • Cryotherapy

Mesothelioma palliative care. Sometimes mesothelioma treatments are limited depending on the staging, the cell type, the type of mesothelioma, and the patient’s overall health. As a result, curative treatments may not always be available, limiting these patients to palliative care.

Palliative care tends to be the main course of treatment for those with:

  • Poor overall health: Those patients who have a weakened immune system or cannot withstand the side effects of treatments like chemotherapy usually only participate in palliative care.
  • Aggressive cell type or cancer type of mesothelioma: Sarcomatoid mesothelioma is the most challenging cancer to treat, and because of its aggressive nature, many treatment options do not work.
  • Late stage diagnosis: Those patients diagnosed at Stage 3 and Stage 4 are often limited to palliative care. Many times, the cancer at this point has already metastasized to distant organs and lymph nodes and doctors cannot effectively treat it.

Palliative care tends to focus on eliminating a patient’s symptoms and does not target the cancer itself. It often includes simple occupational therapies or surgical procedures to improve the quality of life for the patient as best as possible.

FAQs: Mesothelioma Risk Questions

Those diagnosed with mesothelioma face a lot of uncertainty about their future and have many questions about their health, legal options, and the specific assistance they need. The following frequently asked questions will try to answer some of these concerns.

Individuals facing a mesothelioma diagnosis or who have already been diagnosed often wonder what led to their cancer. These patients may want a better understanding of the risk factors and causes that lead to this deadly diagnosis.

1. Is there a main cause of mesothelioma?

Based on current research, the only known cause of mesothelioma is asbestos exposure. When these asbestos fibers are ingested or inhaled, they put the individual at risk for developing mesothelioma cancer. However, other risk factors can increase an individual’s potential for developing the disease. These factors include radiation exposure, zeolites, simian virus 40, and high aspect ratio nanoparticles (HARNs).

2. What age group is the most susceptible to mesothelioma?

In general, most pleural mesothelioma patients are over the age of 65, while more peritoneal mesothelioma patients are diagnosed before they turn 65.

3. Other than the elderly, who is most at risk for mesothelioma?

Any individual exposed to asbestos has a risk of developing malignant mesothelioma. However, other than the elderly, men, those in poor health, and individuals with a genetic mutation of the BAP1 gene are more susceptible to mesothelioma.

4. Why do veterans make up such a large number of mesothelioma cases?

From 1930 to 1980, over five million veterans were exposed to asbestos because of its heavy use in military hardware. As a result, veterans account for over 30 percent of all mesothelioma cases.

5. If I was exposed to asbestos and believe that I have mesothelioma, how do I get tested?

If you are experiencing any mesothelioma signs or symptoms, you must see your primary care doctor as soon as possible. Your doctor can order a CT scan and an X-ray to verify what is going on inside your body. If your results indicate any abnormalities, your doctor can steer you to a surgeon to get further testing. These surgeons will take a tissue biopsy and give you a definitive diagnosis.

6. Will everyone exposed to asbestos get mesothelioma?

No. Just because you have been exposed to asbestos does not mean you will develop mesothelioma. Even those with long-term exposure may never develop the disease. However, these individuals are at a much higher risk of developing mesothelioma in the future or other asbestos-related illnesses.

FAQs: Mesothelioma Diagnosis and Treatment Questions

Many workers or individuals exposed to asbestos often want to be proactive about their health. They want to know precisely what symptoms they need to watch out for so that they can get the proper treatments as early as possible. It is also important to understand that a lot of times, this disease is misdiagnosed since many of the early signs or warnings are mistaken for other conditions.

7. What are some of the first signs you may have mesothelioma?

Unfortunately, because early warning signs of mesothelioma are often nonspecific or start mild, mesothelioma is difficult to detect and diagnose. Some of the more common initial symptoms include chest pain, coughing, fatigue, respiratory complications, unexplained weight loss, abdominal pain and swelling, and difficulty breathing. However, just because you may have one of these symptoms does not necessarily mean it is mesothelioma. You need to check with your doctor about further testing if you want a proper diagnosis.

8. What specific organs are affected by mesothelioma?

There are four main types of malignant mesothelioma.

They include pleural mesothelioma, peritoneal mesothelioma, pericardial mesothelioma, and testicular mesothelioma.

  • Pleural Mesothelioma affects the lining of the lungs.
  • Peritoneal Mesothelioma affects the lining of the abdomen.
  • Pericardial Mesothelioma affects the lining of the heart.
  • Testicular Mesothelioma affects the lining of the testicles.

However, there are also rare types of mesothelioma that may affect other areas of the body.

9. Can you detect mesothelioma early, or is it only diagnosed in the late stages?

Yes, you can detect mesothelioma early. However, due to the generalized symptoms and the lengthy latency period, mesothelioma is often not detected until Stage 3 or Stage 4.

If individuals know they have been exposed to asbestos, they can undergo regular imaging scans and checkups proactively to look for any cancer growth signs. In addition, with the advancement of diagnostic tools, there has been substantial improvement regarding early mesothelioma detection with the use of blood tests, breath tests, and biomarkers.

10. How do you test for mesothelioma?

Currently, the only way to confirm a mesothelioma diagnosis is through a biopsy. Many patients that seek medical care due to mesothelioma symptoms will have to get blood tests, imaging scans, and a biopsy to confirm the cancer.

11. Does mesothelioma have a cure?

Today, there is no known cure for malignant mesothelioma. Yet, the earlier that you are diagnosed, the more treatment options you have.

12. Are there currently any new treatments for mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is a disease that is very hard to control. As a result, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) is sponsoring clinical trials to find better ways to optimize current treatments and find new treatments. However, before any treatment is prescribed, doctors will conduct trials to determine whether these new treatments are effective and safe for patients to use. Today, there are various clinical trials taking place. However, it is best to speak with a medical professional about further information.

13. How long does it take to develop mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is known for its long latency period. This means that many patients will not develop symptoms until 10- 50 years after being exposed to the asbestos. Additionally, just because an individual goes a long time without experiencing any symptoms, it does not mean their risk of developing the cancer has decreased.

14. Are the symptoms of late stage mesothelioma different from the earlier symptoms?

No. Many times symptoms of advanced mesothelioma are the same as the earlier symptoms. However, they are usually more serious. Individuals with late-stage mesothelioma will have swallowing issues, an overall feeling of fatigue or unease, abdominal pain, fevers and night sweats, chest pain, weight loss, tightness in the chest, and swelling from fluid buildup.

15. What are the best treatments for mesothelioma?

A patient’s treatment plan will depend on the patient’s health, their mesothelioma type, and their specific stage. Many of the standard treatments today include radiation therapy, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and surgery. However, in some situations, multimodal therapies are used. These treatments incorporate a combination of the standard treatments and may also include experimental therapies.

16. Is mesothelioma always terminal?

Even though mesothelioma is considered a terminal illness, and there is no known cure yet. Numerous patients live with this disease in remission. As additional diagnostic techniques and treatment plans become available, many more patients will extend their life by months or even years.

FAQs: Stages of Mesothelioma Questions

Malignant mesothelioma has four main stages. Stage 1 and Stage 2 are considered early stages, while Stage 3 and Stage 4 are late stages. During these later stages, the disease is more advanced and has spread to other parts of the body. Many patients tend to have numerous questions about these specific stages and what they mean in terms of prognosis.

17. Can you cure Stage 1 mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma does not have a cure, even for those patients that are diagnosed at Stage 1. However, patients who receive an earlier diagnosis can undergo more aggressive surgeries and treatment. This can result in a better response and prognosis.

18. Can I survive Stage 3 mesothelioma?

Patients diagnosed with Stage 3 mesothelioma, on average, live 16 months. However, this life expectancy varies on a case by case basis. Some individuals can survive longer based on their specific treatment plans. In fact, success has been seen in those patients undergoing new treatments through clinical trials.

19. How long do Stage 4 mesothelioma patients survive?

On average, those patients diagnosed with Stage 4 mesothelioma live around 12 months. However, this period of time also depends on the specific mesothelioma case and the type of treatments that the patient is going through. Some experimental therapies have even extended survival for those individuals who participated.

20. How is mesothelioma staging determined?

Only the most common type of mesothelioma, malignant pleural mesothelioma, has a formal staging system. This specific mesothelioma starts in the pleura, which includes the lining of the chest wall and the lungs.

The staging system most often used for malignant pleural mesothelioma is the American joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) TNM system. This system is based on three key pieces of information.

  • Size of the tumor (T): How fast has the cancer spread in the pleura? Has the cancer spread to other nearby structures? Can surgery remove it?
  • Lymph nodes (N): Has the cancer spread to nearby lymph nodes?
  • Metastasized (M): Has the cancer spread or metastasized to distant sites or organs? Such as the liver, bones, lungs, or pleura on the other side of the body or the peritoneum?

Letters or numbers after the T, N, and M also provide additional details about each of these factors. For example, the higher the number, the more advanced the cancer is. Once a patient’s T, N, and M categories are determined, this information is combined in a stage grouping process to assign the patient an overall stage.

In general, cancer staging is complicated. If you need further details about the process, make sure you speak with your doctor.

FAQs: Mesothelioma Legal Questions

A mesothelioma diagnosis is devastating news. It not only affects the patient and their families emotionally and physically, but financially as well. As a result, these patients or their family members often look into pursuing a mesothelioma claim to receive financial compensation to help them with their lost income or extensive medical bills. Yet, many still do not understand the eligibility requirements around these types of lawsuits.

21. If you have mesothelioma, can you sue?

The ability to sue for your mesothelioma will depend on the specific facts of your situation. In general, mesothelioma patients or their family members can file a lawsuit against an asbestos company that produced materials or products that led to asbestos exposure and, ultimately, their diagnoses. However, if you want to fully understand if you qualify, you need to speak with an experienced asbestos attorney that can walk you through these guidelines and verify if you have a viable claim.

22. Who can file a mesothelioma claim?

Typically, there are two main types of mesothelioma lawsuits. They include wrongful death claims and personal injury claims. Personal injury lawsuits are filed by individuals who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma. In contrast, wrongful death lawsuits are filed by the deceased’s surviving family members who have lost their loved one due to mesothelioma.

23. How long does a mesothelioma claim take to resolve?

On average, a mesothelioma claim will take nine months to resolve. However, this time frame depends on the case’s complexity, whether the case goes to trial, and the defendant’s response or reception to settlement.

24. What is the average mesothelioma settlement?

Even though current reports indicate that the average mesothelioma settlement is between $1 million and $1.4 million, trial verdicts tend to average around $2.4 million. Your specific verdict or settlement amount will depend on the circumstances of your case.

25. Is there a statute of limitations for filing a mesothelioma claim?

Each state has its own statute of limitations (or time limit) when it comes to mesothelioma patients filing a claim after their diagnosis or death. The statute of limitations in Florida, for example, is four years from the diagnosis and two years from a patient’s death.

Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman: Your Mesothelioma Lawyers

Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, was founded in 2009 by president and managing partner Matthew Dolman. We later combined forces with an affiliate law firm, Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA. Our personal injury law firms help clients all over the nation with their mesothelioma claims.

What sets Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman apart from their competition is an unmatched reputation. Our award-winning trial attorneys have successfully argued complicated and devastating injury cases all across Florida, fighting on behalf of injured victims to get them the fair compensation that they need. As a result of our work ethic, dedication, and experience, we have secured millions in settlements and jury verdicts for our clients.

When we take on a mesothelioma case, we fight zealously on our client’s behalf, making sure to take care of the following:

  • Perform a thorough investigation: To succeed in a mesothelioma claim, you need to provide relevant and detailed evidence. Our legal team can get to work right away, not only investigating your employment history but the surrounding area of all the locations where you have previously resided. Through this research, we can pinpoint exactly where the asbestos exposure happened.
  • Gather necessary evidence: Our attorneys can seek all your medical records and bills to show the extent of your disease and the exact stage that your mesothelioma is in. Not only will this information show the validity of your claims, but it will also illustrate the losses that you have endured due to this asbestos exposure.
  • Bring in the proper experts: We want to ensure that you receive the compensation that you deserve. To do this, we need to show as much vital evidence that we can to demonstrate the harm you have gone through because of this asbestos exposure. By retaining the best experts in the field, we can help explain and show causation of how the asbestos exposure caused your mesothelioma diagnosis. As a result, we can present the best case on your behalf against the defendant and pursue maximum compensation.
  • Weigh your options: We know that you may have many options to choose from when pursuing mesothelioma compensation. We also know that deciding between these options is stressful. However, you have enough to worry about. That is why we can go over all of these choices and figure out which course of action is best for your specific situation.

If you or a family member have developed mesothelioma, you need to speak with an attorney you can trust. Contact Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman today, or call our office at (833) 700-MESO [6376]. Let us help you get through this challenging process and pursue the monetary compensation that you deserve.

Call our office today at (727) 451-6900 or contact us online to set up your free appointment.

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