Mesothelioma Law and Legal Definition
Mesothelioma also known as “asbestos cancer” is a rare form of cancer found in the lining of the chest, lungs, or abdomen. It’s a condition where the cells of the mesothelium become abnormal and divide without control or order. The name mesothelioma arises from the name of the lining- “mesothelium”, and “oma” meaning tumor.
Working with asbestos is the major cause for mesothelioma. Those who have regularly handled the clothes of a family member who worked with asbestos may also be at risk for developing mesothelioma. A history of asbestos exposure at work is reported in about 70 to 80 percent of all reported cases of mesothelioma. However, mesothelioma has been reported in some individuals without any known exposure to asbestos.
There are various types of mesothelioma. Pleural mesothelioma, the most common variety, is caused by inhaled asbestos fibers which lodge themselves in the pleural lining of the lungs. Asbestos fibers, which are microscopic but durable, irritate the inner tissue, causing the growth of harmful scar tissue and eventually mesothelioma. Peritoneal mesothelioma is less common and occurs in the lining of the abdominal cavity, near the digestive tract. Pericardial mesothelioma occurs in the lining of the heart and is extremely rare. Like peritoneal mesothelioma, very little is known about the relationship between the malignancy and asbestos exposure but nearly all patients have asbestos exposure history. Most cases of mesothelioma begin in the pleura or peritoneum.
Symptoms of mesothelioma may not appear until 20 to 50 years after exposure to asbestos. The symptoms of pleural mesothelioma are shortness of breath, cough, and pain in the chest due to an accumulation of fluid in the pleural space. Symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma include weight loss, abdominal swelling and pain due to buildup of fluid in the abdominal cavity, bowel obstruction, blood clotting abnormalities, anemia, and fever. If the cancer has spread beyond the mesothelium to other parts of the body, symptoms may include pain, trouble while swallowing, or swelling of the neck or face. In severe cases, the person may have many tumor masses also.
Even though there is no cure for malignant mesothelioma many treatments are available. These types of treatments include surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, immunotherapy and genetherapy.