North Carolina is 16th in U.S. for asbestos-related deaths

Nobody wants to see a loved one suffer from any type of illness, the least of all something like a cancer that affects a person's comfort and breathing, with symptoms that can mimic other diseases and make it tricky to diagnose. To add to the heartbreak and anger, such cancers that are caused by asbestos exposure may have been preventable in a large number of cases. Unfortunately, the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation says that North Carolina ranks 16 th in the nation for mesothelioma fatalities.

When dealing with asbestos-related illnesses, it's important to know the facts if your doctor has mentioned the word "mesothelioma." This type of cancer is frequently fatal, and is usually associated with patients who have been exposed to asbestos, a mineral that was widely used in American construction during the 20 th century. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the latency period between initial exposure to asbestos and developing mesothelioma is 20 to 40 years - meaning even someone who worked with asbestos many years ago is still at risk of contracting it.

The continued risk of asbestos exposure

Because of the serious health risks, asbestos is not mined in the U.S. anymore - although it's still imported. The use of asbestos in building and manufacturing peaked in the 1970s, but had significantly declined by the end of the century. Construction workers and others with frequent exposure to the mineral are most at risk of developing the cancer; in fact, asbestos is the main cause of occupational cancer in our country, as well as a large cause of noncancerous illnesses and disability, according to the CDC's Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry. It's estimated that by 2030, asbestos-related deaths may top 200,000.

According to the Mayo Clinic, the two main types of mesothelioma affect the lungs or the abdomen, and symptoms can include:

  • Painful coughing and shortness of breath.
  • Chest pain near the ribcage.
  • Lumps of tissue under the skin on the chest or abdomen.
  • Abdominal pain or swelling.
  • Unexplained weight loss.

Because the above symptoms can also be attributed to any number of other illnesses, it may be difficult at first to be diagnosed with mesothelioma. Also, the risk of developing the cancer hasn't ended simply because the use of asbestos has tapered off; many buildings that contain asbestos will be renovated or demolished in the coming years, potentially exposing millions of construction workers to the material. Because of the risk, construction companies are supposed to take precautions to minimize exposure; however, no amount of prevention is completely foolproof.

Many North Carolina residents may continue to be diagnosed with mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illnesses over the coming years. If you or a loved one has been affected by asbestos exposure, it can help to speak with a personal injury attorney with experience in mesothelioma and asbestos cases. You may be entitled to the compensation of your medical expenses.