The main cause of mesothelioma is, without doubt, asbestos exposure. After inhalation of the fibers they travel all their way to pleura, damaging mesothelial cells and causing cancer. They are also harmful to lung cells that can result in asbestosis and lung cancer. If these fibers reach the abdominal cavity they can also cause peritoneal mesothelioma. If you are in Need of a Rhode Island mesothelioma lawyer as a result of exposure to asbestos, contact the RI lawyers at Slepkow Slepkow & Associates, Inc.
Rhode Island Mesothelioma lawyer
There are also evidences that exposure to asbestos can also be environmental and or familial, through the asbestos dust that asbestos workers bring with clothes. 6% of asbestos workers died 15 years after the onset of exposure. According to one research the death rate from mesothelioma is 344 times higher than in the general population.
As it was mentioned earlier most of the people have come into contact with asbestos fibers on their jobs or after inhalation of asbestos dust by family members of those working in at-risk occupations (paraoccupational exposure). Also there is a risk of asbestos exposure to people, who live near some manufactures: power plants, factories, shipyards, steel mills and building demolition. These types of work sites can pollute the environment with asbestos fibers and contaminate nearby residential neighborhoods.
Diagnosing mesothelioma can be a difficult task because there is a latency period of 20 to 50 years or more between initial exposure and development of malignant mesothelioma. Rhode Island residents can have a local, high powered law firm on their side.
Pleural Mesothelioma and its causes
The most common form of mesothelioma is Pleural Mesothelioma. According to all evidences it is caused by exposure of asbestos fibers which can penetrate the lining of the lung, entering the plural sac and damage the mesothelium cells. Another factor that plays an important role in cancer development is changes in macrophages after their ingestion of asbestos particles.
The asbestos fibers compel the macrophages to produce free radicals that are very harmful to DNA. And the changes of DNA in turn can induce cells to become cancerous. An interesting fact but the chance of a smoker who works or lives in asbestos-related environment developing lung cancer is about 50 times increased, but there are no evidences that smoking can cause mesothelioma. Asbestos was even used is a filter tip by one brand.
Despite the fact that there are only few evidences, one can say that heredity, general health and diet can also play an essential role, so to decrease the chance of catching a disease it is important to take care about your general health.
One of the most common silicate minerals is certainly asbestos, whose fibers are famous for their resistant to heat and fire, durability and strength. It is well-known that asbestos was used in construction of many buildings as an insulating material and even in creation of clothes. It can be explained by the fact that asbestos fibers are thin, flexible and long. But despite these properties, asbestos exposure is extremely dangerous for health. Buildings and products that were made several decades ago still contain asbestos. One can still find asbestos-containing materials in old industrial facilities, ships and many other products. The asbestos exposure results in the fact that the fibers become airborne and the inhalation of them leads to malignant mesothelioma.
Asbestos was discovered somewhere in late 1800 and since that time the usage if it increased greatly, especially during the World War II. That is why millions of American workers were affected by asbestos. In the beginning nobody knew that asbestos exposure is harmful for health. But later it was found out that the inhalation of asbestos dust can somehow be the reason of developing mesothelioma. This supposition was made after that it was found out that high-risk group includes people who work in asbestos mines, shipyard workers, producers of asbestos products etc. Today the usage of asbestos is restricted and there is a limit of acceptable levels of asbestos exposure that was set by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
It goes without saying that the heavier exposure to asbestos and longer exposure time the more the probability that the risk of asbestos-related disease will increase. In some cases only brief exposures is enough to cause mesothelioma. However heavy exposure of asbestos doesn’t always cause asbestos-related diseases.
It was also shown that families of asbestos workers have an increased risk of developing asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma. Probably the reason of this risk is the inhalation of the asbestos dust from clothing and hair of asbestos workers. To prevent the exposure of asbestos fibers, asbestos workers should shower and change their clothing before leaving the workplace.
A group of fibrous silicate minerals, which asbestos belongs to, consists of two mineralogic groups: amphiboles and serpentines. Amphiboles(eg, crocidolite and amosite) is the main and well-studied carcinogen. Also there are several specific medical issues regarding the carcinogenicity of asbestos fibers.
There are no exact evidence that chrysotile causes malignant mesothelioma (MM). A lot of questions still remain unanswered. Nobody knows the specific carcinogenic thresholds for amphiboles and chrysotile. Also it is essential to define occupations that are at risk to develop MM as a result of asbestos exposure. Still the role of chrysotile in the development of peritoneal MM is not known. And the last but not the list, nobody knows how to determine the criteria that should be used to accept causation in household exposure cases and others.
It is surprisingly but the causation criteria that is accepted in U.S. courts is flexible, so it opens a wide possibility for so called medical “experts” to interpret the results according to their interests. As soon as more and more individuals are claiming causation of MM by asbestos exposure, it is necessary to develop more specific causation guidelines. The new direction of studies, teaching and the practice that is called evidence-based medicine has been used as a process of reviewing of the relevant articles to assess their scientific validity and development of guidelines.
Most insulation materials before the mid-1970s contained asbestos. Many other construction materials also contained asbestos. Some of the most common products were:
- Insulation on pipes
- Boiler insulation
- Insulating cements, plasters, and joint compounds that came in powder form and created a lot of dust before being completely mixed with water.
- Fireproofing spray
- Firebrick and gunnite used for internal insulation of furnaces, boilers, and other vessels
- Roof, floor, and ceiling tiles.
- Transite siding
- Brakes and clutches
- Asbestos cement sheets or pipe products, asbestos cloth, products containing asbestos paper, and asbestos textile products, such as packing components.
- Insulating block, thermal seals, refractory and boiler insulation materials, packing materials, fireproofing spray, gaskets, joint compound, duct insulation for heating.
- Vinyl floor tile and ceiling tile.
- Adhesives, mastics, and coatings.
- Insulated electrical wire and panels, roofing materials, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems.
- Friction products, brake linings for commercial and industrial purposes such as automobiles, railroad cars, and airplanes.
- Heat and electrical wire insulation, industrial filters for beverages, small appliance components, and underlying material for sheet flooring.
- Heat- and fire-resistant clothing, fireproof draperies.
To clear up the rights you have regarding asbestos exposure, you can contact a RI Asbestos Lawyer in East Providence.
As it was said earlier the main cause of developing of this extremely dangerous form of lung cancer called Mesothelioma is inhalation of small airborne asbestos particles – usually during the manufacturing process. 75% of all cases of mesothelioma are connected with asbestos exposure.
Asbestos workers who dealt with asbestos during or before 1970s inhaled harmful asbestos fibers that penetrated deep within the layers of the lungs. There is no system in body to remove the fibers, which in the end cause an inflammatory condition in the lungs (asbestosis). And this particular condition often cause a malignant (cancerous) tumor that is usually fatal to patients.
There are two types of risk factors: risk factors that cannot be controlled, such as age and family history and risk factors that can be controlled, such as smoking. But still it is not clear whether or not they actually cause the disease directly, but however it can influence disease. Sometimes people with no known risk factors develop the disease but people with several risk factors do not. It is important to make wise lifestyle and health-care choices with the help of your doctor who knows about your risk factors.
Here are several factors that can raise a possibility of developing mesothelioma:
Asbestos exposure in Rhode Island
The main reason is, without any doubt asbestos exposure. Most of the patients with mesothelioma were exposed to asbestos during their work. As it was said early asbestos is a natural mineral that has strong, flexible fibers. Before 60s asbestos they added asbestos to insulation, cement, etc. Usually asbestos dust can get into lungs by breathing of it on workplaces or near mines, plants and other factories. This dust can also be carried on clothing, so there is a big risk exposing of family members of the workers of asbestos mines.
There are several kinds of asbestos – amphiboles and serpentine. Amphiboles are rod-like and very thin fibers. There are 5 main types of amphiboles – amosite, crocidolite, actinolyte, tremolite and anthrophylite. Amphiboles are the most cancer-causing ones. Serpentine fibers are curly and pliable. Yet, all the forms and types of asbestos fibers are harmful and can cause malignant (cancerous) mesotheliomas.
The asbestos causes cancer mostly by physically injuring cells. After inhalation, most of the fibers are cleared in the nose, windpipe, throat and large breathing tubes of the lungs called bronchi. Asbestos is cleared being swallowed or coughed up or by sticking to mucus. But the longest and thinnest fibers may reach the ends of the small airways and thus penetrate into the pleural lining of the chest wall lung. By penetrating asbestos fibers can harm mesothelial, and thus cause mesothelioma.
Another display of injuriousness of asbestos fibers is asbestosis – the result of damaging cells of the lung by asbestos and formation of scar tissue in the lung. Also the developing of lung cancer is possible. Lung cancer, asbestosis and mesothelioma are the three most frequent diseases among people exposed to asbestos. Also peritoneal mesothelioma in the abdomen can develop as a result of coughing up and swallowing inhaled asbestos fibers. There are also evidences that asbestos is a cause of cancers of the larynx, pancreas, esophagus, colon, and kidney, but risk of developing of this disease is not very high.
The developing of mesothelioma depends on the quantity and the time of asbestos exposing. Children who were exposed for a long period of time will develop mesothelioma almost for sure. 20 and 40 years is a usual time between exposure to asbestos and diagnosis.
Not only asbestos but also the genetic factors play a role in developing this cancer. This is the only explanation of the fact that not all persons exposed to asbestos dust develop mesothelioma.
There are several articles about pleural and peritoneal mesotheliomas that developed after a person was exposed Thorotrast (thorium dioxide). Thorotrast has not been used for many years after it was found to cause cancers.
Simian Virus 40 (SV40)
There are some viruses that can cause mesothelioma, for example simian virus 40. It can be found in human mesothelioma cells and it to induce mesothelioma to develope. It was found out that polio vaccines administered as a primary prevention measure during 1955 – 1961 was contaminated with SV40. However further research are needed to understand connection between viral etiology and malignant mesothelioma.
The combination of smoking and asbestos exposure greatly increases the risk of lung cancer, approximately 50-90 times greater . But usually asbestos workers die of lung cancer but not of mesothelioma. According to statistics asbestos exposure and smoking greatly increases the risk of certain types of lung cancer.
Zeolite – is a silicate mineral, that is related to asbestos. It can be found in the soil of Turkey in the Anatoli region. There are several cases of mesothelioma that have been described in this region.
Risk of developing Mesothelioma is considered an occupational hazard and those at increased risk include the following:
- Workers of an asbestos mine or mill
- Workers in shipyards
- Producers of asbestos products
- Workers in the heating and construction industries
- Friends and family of the workers in the above listed fields
It usually takes a very long time for Mesothelioma to develop unlike the AIDS virus. 30 to 50 years can past from first exposure to asbestos before people are diagnosed with the cancer. Mesothelioma has the same signs as pneumonia so it is difficult at the start to diagnose.
The diagnosis of mesothelioma is complicated by the fact that in its early stages some patients experience no symptoms at al. Many health problems have the same symptoms as mesothelioma. It is another reason why it’s so hard to assign mesothelioma.
Pleural Mesothelioma Symptoms
Some of the symptoms of pleural mesothelioma (mesothelioma cancer of the lung lining) include:
- pain in the lower back or the side of the chest
- shortness of breath
- a persistent coughing and coughing up blood
- difficulty swallowing food
- fever and sweating
- weight loss
- difficulty sleeping
- swelling of face and arms
- loss of appetite
- muscle weakness
These symptoms are also common to many minor ailments and, therefore, may not cause a doctor to suspect mesothelioma.
Pleural Effusion-fluid in the Lungs
The accumulation of fluid between the lungs and chest cavity is one of the most common and specific symptoms of pleural mesothelioma. It requires a doctor to drain the fluid, called fine-needle aspiration, to relieve chest pain and to make breathing easier. This is the most unique symptom of mesothelioma. It shows that you may have this type of cancer.
Peritoneal Mesothelioma Symptoms
Symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma (abdominal mesothelioma – mesothelioma of the lining of the stomach) include:
- stomach pain
- weight loss
- swelling of lower extremities
- impaired bowel function
Like pleural mesothelioma, these symptoms are also common to many minor ailments and, therefore, may not cause a doctor to suspect mesothelioma, which definitely is vary scary.
What are the early symptoms of Mesothelioma?
Because the chest cavity and abdominal cavity are the primary sites of origin for this form of cancer, most patients who are later diagnosed with Mesothelioma have the following complaints and symptoms:
- common symptom 1: right, or left, sided chest pain ;
- common symptom 2: shortness of breath;
- common symptom 3: weight loss;
- common symptom 4: abdominal pain and swelling;
Diagnosis of mesothelioma is often a difficult process, because there are many doctors that are still unfamiliar with the symptoms. Sometimes these symptoms can be even put down to a number of more common diseases. The main problem of diagnosis is the latency period between first symptoms and contraction. Often the symptoms of mesothelioma can’t be determined for decades and usually it is diagnosed in its latter stages so there is almost nothing that can be done for the patient.
If symptoms point toward mesothelioma and you have had previous asbestos exposure, it is important to visit a doctor for thorough examination. Diagnostic steps include:
- Asses clinical and radiological findings
- Review medical history (including history of asbestos exposure)
- Complete physical
- Chest or abdomen X-ray
- Lung function test
- CT scan or MRI
- Biopsy (when proven necessary)
- Imaging tests such as MRI and CT scans and fluid samples are tools used by doctors in the early stages of diagnosis, but are usually inconclusive.
Usually for proper and definitive diagnosis tissue samples are used. There are two major types of biopsy that can be used for diagnosis. The more definitive is an open biopsy that is performed with the use of a general anesthetic. During this process the chest or abdominal cavity is opened. It gives the surgeon chance to take quite a large sample. The second one is needle biopsy that is, in contrast to open biopsy, done using a local anesthetic. During this process a small sample of tissue is removed with minimally invasive surgery.
Usually doctor may use several methods to find out if the disease is really present.
Physical Examination and Medical history:
It is always necessary to check a complete medical history (interview) to discover a possible risk and sympthoms. Commonly doctor will ask you whether you have been exposed to asbestos.
To find some signs of mesothelioma and other health problems a physical exam is performed. Generally patients with mesotheliomas of the chest (pleural mesotheliomas) have fluid in their chest cavity caused by the cancer. In its turn fluid in the abdominal cavity (ascites) is a main marker of peritoneal mesothelioma, and fluid in the pericardium (pericardial effusion) – of pericardial mesothelioma.
Main markers of the disease such as lowering of the lung fissures (spaces between the lobes of the lungs), pleural calcifications (mineral deposits), irregular thickening of the pleura, and fluid in the pleural space can be defined by a chest x-ray. These data suggests to show the asbestos exposure.
There are a lot of methods that can help determine the location, size, and extent of the cancer. For example computed tomography (CT) scans, x-rays, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans. One can get a series of pictures of the body from many angles using the CT. Then these pictures are combined by a computer. The result of the combination is detailed cross-sectional images of a selected part of the body. During the CT scan a special harmless dye injected into a vein to highlight details. The main distinction of MRI is using of the magnetic fields for creation images of selected areas of the body instead of x-rays.
Examination of tissue samples and fluid:
In cases when a pleural effusion was diagnosed, a sample of this fluid usually is taken by inserting a needle into the chest cavity. To obtain abdominal and pericardial fluid a similar technique is commonly used. After that samples are examined under a microscope to determine the presence of cancer cells.
Recently a new technique was developed to obtain a tissue sample of a pleural or pericardial tumor called thoracoscopy. A telescope-like instrument connected to a video camera (thoroscope) is inserted through a small incision into the chest. This method is used not only to take a tissue biopsy but also to see the tumor. One can also uses laparoscopy to see and obtain a biopsy. In this procedure, a small incisions on the front of the abdomen is made to insert a small and flexible tube attached to a video camera into the abdominal cavity.
To remove a larger sample of tumor or, sometimes, to remove the entire tumor surgeries usually use either a thoracotomy (which opens the chest cavity) or a laparotomy (which opens the abdominal cavity).
Also the doctor may do a bronchoscopy for patients who might have pleural mesothelioma. A flexible lighted tube is inserted through the mouth and trachea during this procedure. It allows seeing if there are other masses in the airway. There is also a possibility to remove small samples of abnormal-appearing tissue for testing.
The doctor may also use a mediastinoscopy. During this procedure a lighted tube is inserted at the level of the neck under the sternum (chest bone). Then it moved down into the chest. This helps the surgeon to examine the lymph nodes – bean-sized collections of immune system cells that help the body fight infections and cancers. This method also allows to remove samples. However mesotheliomas rarely spreads to lymph nodes. The reason to examine lymph nodes is that it can help to understand whether a cancer is still localized or if it has started to spread. And what is more important it can help distinguish lung cancer from mesothelioma.
Please contact a Rhode Island mesothelioma lawsuit attorney.
Providence RI mesothelioma lawsuit
The survival after diagnosis is usually 12 months. For patients with high performance status palliative chemotherapy can be helpful. Needless to say that there is a direct relation between a chance of recovery and the stage of the cancer. The treatment options, the amount of fluid in the chest or abdomen, the size of the tumor, surgical removal of lump, type of mesothelioma cancer cell and cancer recurrence depend on the stage of cancer.
If you are seeking a Rhode Island, mesothelioma lawyer to file a mesothelioma lawsuit, contact us.