Mesothelioma is a rare, aggressive type of cancer caused by asbestos. It usually forms in the lining of the lungs or abdomen. Florida residents with mesothelioma can often receive compensation for the cost of cancer treatment by filing a lawsuit against the companies responsible for their asbestos exposure.
Cause and Development
Mesothelioma is almost exclusively caused by asbestos, a toxic mineral. Most cases of mesothelioma trace back to asbestos exposure at a person’s place of work.
- Fiber Accumulation: When someone inhales or swallows asbestos dust on a regular basis, the microscopic mineral fibers can accumulate in the membrane lining around their lungs or abdominal cavity.
- Genetic Damage: Over many years, the lodged asbestos fibers may cause chronic inflammation and genetic damage in surrounding cells that leads to cancer.
- Tumor Formation: Mesothelioma tumors most often form as a thin sheath around one lung, which makes it hard for the lung to expand when breathing.
- Metastasis: As the cancer progresses, tumors grow into surrounding tissues, and cancer cells spread to start new tumors in other areas of the body.
The main risk factor for mesothelioma is a history of working with asbestos-containing materials. Up until the 1980s, American companies used asbestos as an ingredient in many types of insulation, machine parts and construction materials.
Occupations at Risk of Asbestos Exposure
- Insulators who installed or spray-applied asbestos products
- Miners who worked in asbestos-contaminated mines
- Construction workers of all trades
- Mechanics who serviced brake pads or replaced gaskets
- Factory workers who manufactured asbestos products
- Refinery or power plant workers who worked around asbestos-insulated equipment
- Military service members, particularly Navy sailors and Marines
- Firefighters, especially if they used asbestos-containing gear
Family members of asbestos workers were also at risk through secondhand asbestos exposure.
Mesothelioma takes decades to develop after the initial exposure to asbestos. Its latency period can be anywhere from 20 to 60 years, and most people diagnosed with mesothelioma are over 65.
The large number of mesothelioma patients in Florida partially stems from the fact that many asbestos-exposed workers have moved to Florida after retirement.
Common Mesothelioma Symptoms
- Persistent dry cough
- Breathing difficulty
- Chest or abdominal pain
- Muscle weakness
- Night sweats and fever
Prognosis and Life Expectancy
The prognosis for mesothelioma is poor. There is no cure for this disease, and it is difficult to treat with conventional cancer therapies. However, some mesothelioma patients have gone into remission for years after receiving care from mesothelioma specialists.
Pleural Mesothelioma Median Life Expectancy by Stage at Diagnosis
Stage 1: 22.2 months
Surgery is recommended when mesothelioma tumors are localized and patients are in otherwise strong health.
Stage 2: 20 months
If tumors have not spread significantly, surgery is still an option. Mesothelioma surgery is usually supported by other treatments such as chemotherapy.
Stage 3: 17.9 months
Surgery may still be an option if tumors have not spread too far. Patients may benefit from other therapies such as chemotherapy and immunotherapy.
Stage 4: 14.9 months or less
Chemotherapy, immunotherapy and palliative care may extend survival and improve quality of life.
Mesothelioma Treatment in Tampa, Florida
Mesothelioma patients in the Tampa area are fortunate to have the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center nearby. Some of the top mesothelioma doctors in the country practice at Moffitt’s Mesothelioma Research and Treatment Center, which opened in 2012.
The National Cancer Institute has designated Moffitt a Comprehensive Cancer Center in recognition of its excellent research and clinical programs.
Mesothelioma Treatments Available at H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center
- Pleural mesothelioma surgery through minimally invasive robotic techniques
- Peritoneal mesothelioma surgery combined with heated intraoperative chemotherapy
- Experimental chemotherapy and immunotherapy regimens being tested in clinical trials
- Intensity modulated radiation therapy that can safely target pleural mesothelioma tumors
Mesothelioma Compensation in Florida
The leaders of the American asbestos industry knew that asbestos was toxic as far back as the 1930s. But rather than protecting the health of their workers and customers, business leaders chose to suppress information about the hazards of asbestos exposure as long as they could.
Because of this negligence, many companies are now liable for the mental, emotional and financial cost of developing mesothelioma. An experienced attorney at Florida Consumer Lawyers can help your family explore their legal options for seeking compensation.