Did You Know?
Mesothelioma has a long latency (inactive) period of anywhere between 15 - 50 years.
Once the diagnosis of malignant mesothelioma has been confirmed, the next step is determining the extent of the disease (called staging). Imaging studies, such as computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), allow physicians to assess the stage of the disease and determine the most appropriate treatment. The staging system used in the past for mesothelioma is the Butchart System. This system is based mainly on the extent of the primary tumor mass, and divides mesotheliomas into stages I through IV. Many doctors will still use this system. Staging defines how far the cancer has spread from its original location to other parts of the body.
The stages of malignant mesothelioma are:
• Stage I - The tumor is found in the pleura with or without some involvement of the lung, pericardium (lining of the heart) or diaphragm.
• Stage II - The tumor is found in a stage I location, plus there is involvement of some lymph nodes in the chest.
• Stage III - The tumor has extended into the chest wall, ribs or heart, through the diaphragm or into the peritoneum (the abdominal lining). There also may be involvement of the lymph nodes.
• Stage IV - The tumor has spread through the bloodstream to distant sites (that is, it has metastasized).
• Recurrent mesothelioma - The tumor has recurred after treatment.
Stage I also is called localized disease, whereas stages II to IV are called advanced disease. Stage I disease generally has the best prognosis, particularly when the tumor is of the epithelial type.
If the diagnosis is mesothelioma, your doctor will need to know the stage of your disease. Staging can be clinical or pathological. Clinical staging relies on scanning tests and x-rays. Pathological staging refers to staging done at surgery.
Malignant mesothelioma moves through four stages, each one more serious than the next. The cancer is described as localized if it is found only on the lining surface where it originated. If the cancer has spread beyond the original site to other parts of the body, such as the lymph nodes, chest wall, or abdominal organs, it is considered as advanced.
The stage of the cancer will determine treatment options and helps determine the prognosis of the disease. Pleural mesothelioma is the only mesothelioma that has a staging system. But the clinical staging systems are considered inadequate due to the way the disease spreads.
Other Mesothelioma Staging Systems
TNM System -- variables of T (tumor), N (lymph nodes), M (metastasis)
- Stage I: Mesothelioma involves right or left pleura and may also have spread to the lung, pericardium, or diaphragm on the same side. Lymph nodes are not involved.
- Stage II: Mesothelioma has spread from the pleura on one side to nearby lymph nodes next to the lung on the same side. It may also have spread into the lung, pericardium, or diaphragm on the same side.
- Stage III: Mesothelioma is now in the chest wall, muscle, ribs, heart, esophagus, or other organs in the chest on the same side with or without spread to lymph nodes on the same side as the primary tumor.
- Stage IV: Mesothelioma has spread into the lymph nodes in the chest on the side opposite the primary tumor, or extends to the pleura or lung on the opposite side, or directly extends into organs in the abdominal cavity or neck. Any distant metastases is included in this stage.
Brigham System: (variables of tumor resectability and nodal status)
- Stage I: Resectable mesothelioma and no lymph node involvement
- Stage II: Resectable mesothelioma but with lymph node involvement
- Stage III: Unresectable mesothelioma extending into chest wall, heart, or through diaphragm, peritoneum; with or without extrathoracic lymph node involvement
- Stage IV: Distant metastatic disease
Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that is caused by exposure to asbestos. Mesothelioma cancer comes from inhaling or digesting asbestos dust particles. Mesothelioma cancer affects the abdominal cavity, chest cavity, and the region surrounding the heart.
Mesothelioma is a life-threatening disease and should not be left untreated. Most cases of mesothelioma begin in the pleura or peritoneum.
Mesothelioma cancer occurs in the mesothelium, a thin layer of tissue that covers your internal organs. The mesothelium is a membrane that covers and protects most of the internal organs of the body. There are two layers of cells in the mesothelium; one layer surrounds the organs; the other layer forms a sac around the organs.
Mesothelioma is most common in the pleura (the outer lining of the lungs and chest cavity), but it may also occur in the peritoneum (the lining of the abdominal cavity) or the pericardium (the sac that surrounds the heart).
Most people who develop mesothelioma have worked on jobs where they inhaled asbestos particles, or they have been exposed to asbestos dust and fibers in other ways, such as by washing clothes of a family member who worked around asbestos.
New Mesothelioma Cases
It has been well documented for many years that asbestos exposure can result in the development of deadly cancers, particularly Mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma has a latency period of 20 to 50 years after the first exposure to asbestos. It is estimated that there will be about 250,000 cases of Mesothelioma before 2020.
There are currently about 3000 new cases of Mesothelioma diagnosed per year, mostly in men over the age of 40.
About 4,000 People die each year from Mesothelioma. During the 20th century, some 30 million tons of asbestos were used in industrial sites, homes, schools, shipyards and commercial buildings in the U. S.
More than 700,000 people have filed claims against more than 6,000 Asbestos companies.
These same companies knew of the dangers for many years before ever warning the public of those risks. It is thought that around eight million people in the United States have been exposed to asbestos over the past half a century, and many more cases - are expected to be reported in the next 25 years.
The National Institute of Health in 1978 estimated that eight to eleven million U.S. workers had been exposed to asbestos by that date. In fact, by 1970, it is estimated that some 25 million tons of asbestos were used in the U.S.
People all over the world have been poisoned by toxic levels of asbestos, putting them at risk for mesothelioma, asbestosis, lung cancer, and other deadly diseases that are directly caused by the inhalation and digesting of asbestos fibers.
Asbestos was used in thousands of products that humans and animals encounter on a daily basis particularly in building components such as ceiling and floor tiles, walls, bricks and stucco, and in automotive parts such as brakes and clutches.
Workers who have mesothelioma have labored for years in jobs that required frequent contact with asbestos. When asbestos is mined, processed, woven, sprayed or otherwise manipulated, its microscopic fibers can be released into the air, where they may be inhaled, initiating the development of mesothelioma.
mesothelioma symptoms include shortness of breath due to pleural effusion (fluid between the lung and the chest wall) or chest wall pain, and general symptoms such as weight loss
Mesothelioma signs and symptoms:
- abdominal pain
- bowel function problems
- chest wall pain
- weight loss
- pleural effusion, or fluid surrounding the lung
- shortness of breath
- fatigue or anemia
- wheezing, hoarseness, or cough
- blood in the sputum (fluid) coughed up (hemoptysis)
Mesothelioma signs and symptoms in severe cases:
- blood clots in the veins, which may cause thrombophlebitis
- disseminated intravascular coagulation, a disorder causing severe bleeding in many body organs
- jaundice, or yellowing of the eyes and skin
- low blood sugar level
- pleural effusion
- pulmonary emboli, or blood clots in the arteries of the lungs
- severe ascites
Mesothelioma can attack the pleural lining around the lungs. It can also attack the peritoneum, a tissue that surrounds the GI tract. Mesothelioma can attack the stomach lining, other internal organs, or even the pericardium (the tissue sac covering the heart). Thus, mesothelioma can be generally classified into the following types:
- Pleural — 75% of all mesothelioma cases
- Peritoneal — 10%-20%
- Pericardial — 5%
- Epithelioid — most common, best survival rate
- Sarcomatoid — most severe, but more rare
- Mixed/biphasic — a mixture of epithelioid and sarcomatoid cancer
If you think that you may have been exposed to asbestos at any time, it is important to share your concern with a physician.
Mesothelioma is a very aggressive form of cancer, and one of the reasons that it has such a low survival rate is because it is not typically diagnosed until the disease is fairly advanced.
Diagnosis of Mesothelioma is based on a pathological exam, more commonly referred to as a biopsy. This exam will test a tissue sample for the presence of malignant and/or pleural mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma diagnosis begins with a review of the patient's medical history. A history of exposure to asbestos is a common theme in diagnosing mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma diagnosis is often difficult, because the symptoms are similar to those of a number of other conditions.
Mesothelioma diagnosis includes a physical examination followed by chest X-rays and a CT scan, and confirmed with a biopsy (tissue sample) and microscopic examination.
To diagnose mesothelioma a thoracoscopy (inserting a tube with a camera into the chest) is used to do a biopsy.
Individuals with pleural mesothelioma may accumulate some fluid between the lung lining and chest cavity. This can be detected through a chest x-ray, as well as CT scans.
Treatment for mesothelioma using conventional therapies has not proved successful and patients have a median survival time of 6 - 18 months depending on which stage (1-4) the mesothelioma cancer has progressed.
Treatments for Mesothelioma
Research into new and more effective treatments for mesothelioma is ongoing. There is no cure as yet for mesothelioma. The standard treatments that attempt to hold back the progression of this cancer are:
- Surgery — to remove part of all of the affected body tissues
- Radiation therapy — to target and kill the mesothelioma cells
- Chemotherapy — the use of drugs, injected or taken orally, to kill or stop the growth of the cancer cells
Mesothelioma treatment depends on the location of the cancer, the stage of the disease, and the patient’s age and general health. Standard treatment options include surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. Sometimes, these treatments are combined.
In February 2004, the U. S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved pemetrexed (brand name Alimta) for treatment of mesothelioma. Pemetrexed is given in combination with cisplatin. Folic acid is also used to reduce the side-effects of pemetrexed.
Mesothelioma and Smoking
Unlike lung cancer, there is no association between mesothelioma and smoking.
Smoking does not appear to increase the risk of mesothelioma. However, the combination of smoking and asbestos exposure significantly increases a person’s risk of developing cancer of the lungs.
The Kent brand of cigarettes used asbestos in its filters for the first few years of production in the 1950s and some cases of mesothelioma have resulted. Smoking modern cigarettes does not appear to increase the risk of mesothelioma.
The combination of smoking and asbestos exposure significantly increases a person's risk of developing cancer of the airways (lung cancer, bronchial carcinoma).
If you do smoke, stop. In addition to mesothelioma and asbestosis, there is research that indicates that those who suffer from asbestos exposure and smoke are at a greatly increased risk of developing mesothelioma lung cancer.
What You Need Top Know About Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma symptoms may not appear until 20 to 50 years after exposure to asbestos.
Mesothelioma occurs more often in men than in women and risk increases with age, but this disease can appear in either men or women at any age.
Working with asbestos is the major risk factor for mesothelioma. A history of asbestos exposure in the workplace is reported in about 70 percent to 80 percent of all cases.
Mesothelioma will cause shortness of breath, cough, and pain in the chest due to an accumulation of fluid in the pleural space.
Mesothelioma does not usually spread to the bone, brain, or adrenal glands. Pleural mesothelioma tumors are usually found only on one side of the lungs.Family members and others living with asbestos workers have an increased risk of developing mesothelioma, and possibly other asbestos related diseases. Early Mesothelioma screening tests can diagnose mesothelioma earlier than conventional methods thus improving the survival prospects for patients.
Mesothelioma is described as localized if the cancer is found only on the membrane surface where it originated.
Mesothelioma is classified as advanced if it has spread beyond the original membrane surface to other parts of the body, such as the lymph nodes, lungs, chest wall, or abdominal organs.
Mesothelioma death rates increased from 1980 to the late 1990s, the death rate from mesothelioma in the USA increased from 2,000 per year to 3,000, with men four times more likely to acquire it than women. Working with asbestos is the major risk factor for mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is now known to occur in those who are genetically pre-disposed to it.
Mesothelioma has been reported in some individuals without any known exposure to asbestos.
Most doctors and medical experts agree that there will be tens of thousands of new cases of mesothelioma in the years to come.
Many building materials used in both public and domestic premises prior to the banning of asbestos may still contain asbestos.
Incidence of mesothelioma had been found to be higher in populations living near naturally occurring asbestos.
Asbestos has been mined and used commercially since the late 1800s. It was used widely used during World War II.
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sets limits for acceptable levels of asbestos exposure in the workplace.
There is some evidence that family members and others living with asbestos workers have an increased risk of developing mesothelioma, and possibly other asbestos-related diseases.
Occupations that have high rates of exposure include ship builders, oil refinery workers, steel workers, power plant workers, Navy shipyards, pipefitters, auto workers, railroad workers and construction workers.
If you are a grieving family member or executor of the will of a person who has died from asbestos-related disease or mesothelioma, you may be eligible to file a claim as well.
For those diagnosed with mesothelioma it is very important to consult with an experienced mesothelioma lawyer. In most cases there are funds available for your treatment and personal suffering. Please feel free to contact us at any time at 1-800.291.0963
Mesothelioma Lawsuit - Note of Urgency
The first lawsuits against asbestos manufacturers were in 1929. Since then, many lawsuits have been filed against asbestos manufacturers and employers, for neglecting to implement safety measures after the links between asbestos, asbestosis, and mesothelioma became known (some reports seem to place this as early as 1898).
A good Mesothelioma attorney understands the unique complexities involved in this kind of litigation lawsuit, including asbestos product identification, specific asbestos-related medical issues, and specific time constraints that narrow the window of opportunity to file a claim.
It is important to find the right Mesothelioma lawyer before your state’s statutes of limitations expires, leaving you and your family grieving and empty-handed. There's no time to wait - contact our mesothelioma lawyers today for a free case review.
We have helped many people get experienced legal and medical help for their mesothelioma cancer and asbestos cancer cases. We will actually walk you though the process of contacting an experienced mesothelioma lawyer that we have worked with to get you the best possible settlement for your mesothelioma case.
It is not uncommon for there to be 10-20 parties that are named in a mesothelioma lawsuit that are located across the United States. For example, a worker in California may have been exposed to asbestos from asbestos products shipped from Libby, Montana or from an iron ore plant in St. Paul Minnesota. This is why it is very important to obtain an experienced mesothelioma lawyer knows all of the companies in each state who have responsibility for your asbestos exposure.
We have helped people with mesothelioma cancer for more than six years !
For those diagnosed with asbestos cancer / mesothelioma it is very important to consult with an experienced asbestos lawyer. In most cases there are funds available for your treatment and personal suffering. Call us Toll Free at 800.291.0963 or use our Mesothelioma Attorney Contact Form located on the right side of this page for a quick response.There is NO COST or obligation for this service.
There are three most commonly used types of asbestos: white, brown, and blue. Brown and blue asbestos are most commonly associated with mesothelioma.
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that has been used for centuries in various products. Asbestos has many attributes that make it valuable, including fire resistance.
Asbestos was used in many products that were made for protection from heat and flame. This included actual clothing, such as gloves, to stuffing asbestos insulation into electrical conduit, to using asbestos to make fire proof cloth for use in power plants or petroleum refineries.
Asbestos also has excellent insulation and noise deadening qualities. This meant that asbestos was used in many construction products, including floor and ceiling tiles and wall board. Any home built before 1978 probably contains asbestos somewhere.
Asbestos exposure occurs when the asbestos that is in the products becomes damaged. Once damaged, the asbestos fibers are released into the air. The fibers are microscopic, smaller even than a grain of pollen, and invisible to the naked eye. The asbestos fibers, if inhaled or ingested, can become lodged into the body where it can create severe medical problems.
We help with you file Mesothelioma and Asbestos-related claims in each state
Call us toll free at 800.291.0963 or use quick contact form located at the right of this page and we will contact you within 24 hours.