Asbestos and its link to mesothelioma

Although the dangers of asbestos exposure have been well known for many years now, many people are still being diagnosed and treated for mesothelioma. The reason for this is partially that it can take two to four decades before the symptoms of the disease present themselves.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were about 18,000 people diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma between 1999 and 2005. The most common age of those afflicted with the disease is between 65 and 84. The overwhelming majority are men. Mesothelioma continues to be an issue today, as about 2,000 to 3,000 people are diagnosed with it each year. Although there have been some advances in treatment, around 60 percent of those diagnosed die within two years of their initial diagnosis.

Link to asbestos

Mesothelioma can arise from different circumstances, but the overwhelming majority of cases are caused by asbestos exposure. Asbestos was commonly used in the construction, shipping, farming, auto repair and railroad industries in the twentieth century. Employees who worked in these industries have a high likelihood of being exposed to asbestos fibers. Additionally, as employees can bring the fibers home on their clothing, their families are at risk as well.

How mesothelioma develops

Mesothelioma develops when asbestos dust or fibers become embedded in the body-usually the lungs. The body's immune system attacks these fibers, but if there are a high number, it causes inflammation. Over time, the inflammation causes cells in the mesothelium-the lining of the internal organs-to divide and grow abnormally. Eventually, the cells can become malignant and can spread to other parts of the body.

The likelihood of developing mesothelioma depends on many factors such as the concentration of asbestos fibers, duration of exposure, whether protective gear was worn during the exposure and other factors unique to the individual.

Consult an attorney

Regardless of whether a person develops mesothelioma because of direct exposure to asbestos or because of contact with asbestos through a family member's embedded clothing, the parties responsible for the exposure can be held financially liable for the victim's medical bills, pain and suffering and other losses.

In many states, such as Pennsylvania, mesothelioma claims must be filed within a certain period after the initial diagnosis. Failure to file a claim within the prescribed time may prove fatal to your claim. If you or a loved one has developed mesothelioma, contact an attorney experienced with litigating mesothelioma cases. An attorney can advise you about your claim and work to recover all compensation that you are entitled to under the law.