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What is mesothelioma and what are the signs and symptoms?

Many of our posts mention illnesses or diseases derived from the exposure to asbestos. Mesothelioma is a disease that has afflicted thousands of residents in North Carolina. In this post, we will explain the symptoms of this disease and its connection to asbestos exposure.

Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that affects the tissue that covers the majority of the body's internal organs. The tissue is called the mesothelium, and doctors have identified four types of mesothelioma based upon the section of the mesothelium that is affected by the disease.

The most common form of the illness is pleural mesothelioma, a cancer in the tissue or pleura that surrounds the lungs. Other types of mesothelioma affect the heart, the abdomen and the testicles. Symptoms of pleural mesothelioma include chest pain, painful coughing, shortness of breath, unusual lumps under the skin and unexplained weight loss. The other three forms of the disease are so rare that doctors have not yet developed a definitive list of symptoms.

The primary risk factor for mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos fibers. When asbestos is broken into smaller pieces, asbestos fibers are released into the air. If these fibers are inhaled, they can settle in the pleura or other areas of the mesothelium and cause irritation. Over many years, this irritation can cause mutations in the cells of the mesothelium that become cancerous.

Physicians have developed many therapies to relieve the pain caused by mesothelioma, but the disease cannot be cured. Virtually everyone who contracts the disease will die from it. Anyone who has been exposed to asbestos-containing products or is suffering from one or more symptoms related to the disease should seek an examination from a physician who has experience in diagnosing and treating the disease.

Anyone who receives a positive diagnosis and anyone who has a loved one with a positive diagnosis of mesothelioma may wish to consult a lawyer who specializes in seeking damages for persons suffering from mesothelioma or other asbestos-related diseases. Such a consultation can provide a helpful evaluation of the facts of the case, an outline of legal strategies and an estimate of the probability of recovering damages for medical expenses, lost income and pain and suffering.

Source: Mayo Clinic, "Mesothelioma," accessed on Aug. 1, 2016

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