Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that attacks the lining found around major organs such as the lungs, the stomach and the heart. It is very difficult for doctors to diagnose the condition because many of its symptoms mirror those of other common respiratory ailments. If a patient has been employed in an occupation that puts him or her at risk for asbestos exposure, doctors may run tests in an attempt to determine if he or she has one of the three most common forms of mesothelioma.
Three out of four patients diagnosed with mesothelioma have pleural mesothelioma, which affects the lining around the lungs— often referred to as pleura. Pleural mesothelioma may be confused for lung cancer because it affects the lungs but it is not a cancer of the lungs, but rather of the lining around the lungs. The pleura is made up of mesothelium, which acts to lubricate areas such as the chest cavity and the heart in order to allow muscles to contract and release.
The lining of the stomach is referred to as the peritoneum, and has the equivalent function for the stomach that the pleura performs for the lungs. Cancer of the stomach lining is extremely rare and less than 500 people in the country develop this form of mesothelioma each year. In many instances, mesothelioma may have its onset inside the pleura and spread to the peritoneum rather than developing inside of the stomach lining on its own.
Pericardial mesothelioma only affects one of every ten patients diagnosed with mesothelioma, but it is a serious form of cancer that affects the lining of the heart. Like peritoneal mesothelioma, it may be the result of cancer spreading from the pleura or peritoneum into the lining of the heart— which is referred to as the pericardium. Most patients diagnosed with any form of mesothelioma have a poor prognosis despite the location of the cancer. The prognosis for this form of mesothelioma is usually much worse than the other forms of the disease, however.
In order to properly diagnose mesothelioma, doctors must perform a series of imaging tests. Simple X-rays are often unable to locate the existence of cancer in the mesothelium, so doctors may order a PET scan, MRI, CT scan or multiple scans in order to compare results and locate the presence of a tumor. A biopsy may be taken as well so doctors can test the tissue itself for the presence of cancerous cells. Most of the tumors that doctors find in the lining of the organs are malignant, but on occasion, a benign tumor is found.
Where to turn following a mesothelioma diagnosis?
Mesothelioma has no cure presently but there are treatment options available to prolong the life of the patient or to shrink the size of the tumor. Surgical options are also available and doctors may recommend a combination of treatments that include radiation and chemotherapy. These treatments can be very expensive, which is why anyone diagnosed with mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure on the job should retain a mesothelioma lawyer.
Our Chicago Mesothelioma Lawyers dedicate their time to seeking compensation on behalf of clients who are suffering because of the negligence of their employers. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with this rare cancer, contact us today to find out if you are entitled to compensation. A mesothelioma lawsuit can recover damages that may be used to pay for medical bills and time lost from work. You may even be entitled to punitive damages and our lawyers will work to earn every dime that you deserve for your injuries— we are so confident in our ability to win the maximum judgment on your behalf that we won’t charge you unless we win your case or negotiate a settlement that is in your best interests.