Mesothelioma is a type of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos, a naturally-occurring fiber commonly used in building for decades. Before the dangers of asbestos were known, construction workers and other professionals often spent hours working with this toxic substance every day. As mesothelioma is a particularly slow-growing form of cancer, it’s not uncommon for people who were exposed more than 30 years ago to just now be diagnosed with the disease.
Mesothelioma begins as small tumors that form on the lining of the abdomen or lungs. Symptoms don’t usually become apparent until the tumors begin to press against the abdominal cavity or chest wall, which usually occurs around state III or IV.
In addition to slow growth, mesothelioma is commonly overlooked or misdiagnosed because its symptoms often mimic those of less serious conditions. Initial symptoms may include pain in the chest or abdomen, shortness of breath, dry cough, and bloating.
Most Common Mesothelioma Signs and Symptoms
If you ever worked with asbestos and have developed any of the following symptoms, it may be in your best interest to speak with your doctor as soon as possible. Of course, all of the symptoms below can be related to other, less serious conditions. But when it comes to your health, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
- Dry cough
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Abdominal pain
- Abdominal distention
- Bowel obstruction
- Night sweats
- Muscle weakness
- Pleural effusion (when fluid forms around the lungs)
- Weight loss
- Difficulty swallowing
In most cases, mesothelioma is first detected by accident through a routine blood test or X-ray. Anyone who worked with asbestos for an extended period of time should inform their physician and request cancer screenings to improve the chances of an early diagnosis. If you have developed mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure, a MA work injury attorney can help you recover damages for your injuries.
There are two main types of mesothelioma – pleural and peritoneal. Pleural affects the lining of the lungs, whereas peritoneal affects the lining of the abdomen. Both types of mesothelioma are frequently misdiagnosed. The pleural form is commonly misdiagnosed as COPD, pneumonia, or a bronchial infection, while doctors often think the peritoneal form is irritable bowel syndrome or ovarian cancer.
Is Mesothelioma a Work Injury?
In most cases, an individual’s asbestos exposure occurred at work, years ago. As such, resulting injuries are work injuries. Most work injuries are covered by workers’ compensation, but mesothelioma is typically an exception. Since symptoms of this deadly cancer often fail to show up until 20 or 30 years after exposure, few people still work at the employer responsible for their exposure. Many of these employers don’t even exist anymore. This is why it is so critical to obtain legal counsel as soon as possible. A Boston work injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure. Continue reading