Health and safety in the workplace has always been a concern for workers, especially with all the new dangers which have arisen over the last century. For example, asbestos was once a commonly used substance used for the insulation of buildings, becoming increasingly popular in the late 19th century because of its noise absorption, its resistance to fire, heat, electrical and chemical damage, its tensile strength, and overall affordability. Now, however, it is no longer used due to the discovery that it causes severe and sometimes fatal health problems, including Mesothelioma, which is a form of cancer.
Asbestos is dangerous because it is composed of tiny fibers which threaten human health and safety due to the high degree of potency when inhaled. These fibers trigger the formation of Mesothelioma, a form of cancer which attacks the epithelial layer of cells, found in the abdominal cavity, heart and lungs. While contact with asbestos can trigger this form of cancer, a person with Mesothelioma typically doesn’t start showing symptoms until long after their initial contact – symptoms can typically show between 15 and 50 years later!
Even though asbestos is no longer used workers are still exposed to this dangerous substance, making Mesothelioma a health risk for workers even today.
Common early symptoms of Mesothelioma include:
- Shortness of breath
- Reduced respiratory function
As symptoms won’t manifest themselves until after the cancer has developed, many patients will be unaware they have developed mesothelioma or the severity of the risk to their health and safety. Diagnosis is even more difficult, since the above symptoms are often indicative of different and less serious illnesses.
When it comes to treatment of this form of cancer, surgery is the most common option. Curative surgery, which removes cancerous tumors, is a frequently used method for patients whose cancer was diagnosed early on. Depending upon the patient’s diagnosis and overall health, Mesothelioma surgeries can be either curative or palliative, and may fall somewhere in between if surgery efforts are effective.
The following are a few options for Mesothelioma procedures:
- Extrapleural Pneumonectomy: Removes the entire lung, a portion of the diaphragm, the linings of the lungs and heart.
- Pneumonectomy: Removal of entire affected lung.
- Paracentesis: Drainage of fluid from abdominal cavity.
- Pericardiocentesis: Drainage of fluid from pericardial sac.
- Pleurectomy and Decortication: Removal of tumors and portions of visceral pleura
- Pleurodesis: Drainage of fluid and sealing of pleural space.
- Thoracotomy: A section of the lung is removed.
- Radiation Therapy: This therapy applies radiation to the affected areas using high-energy x-rays or particles to kill cancer cells. This form of cancer is often hard to treat with radiation because Mesothelioma does not typically exist as single, isolated tumor(s), so aiming radiation without damaging nearby normal tissues is not easy.
- Chemotherapy: So far this is the most effective and least invasive form of treatment to extend life expectancy.
It is critical to have a good idea of the likely benefits and possible risks of each treatment strategy before choosing a combination or any one in particular. Mesothelioma is relatively rare, so it is often advisable to seek a second opinion from a doctor with significant experience in treating patients with this form of cancer. Getting a second opinion can provide more information and help you feel more confident about the decision you make.
Nearly all Mesothelioma cases have been linked to asbestos as a cause. This condition can lead to years of pain, suffering and even death. If your health and safety has been put at risk and you or a loved one has been exposed to asbestos, and have developed Mesothelioma, Asbestosis or other ailment, request a Free Case Consultation to speak with a lawyer.