Q: What is malignant mesothelioma?
A: Malignant mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer involving the lining of the lungs and stomach. Pleural mesothelioma is the most common form of the disease and occurs in the lining of the lung known as the pleura.
Q: What causes mesothelioma?
A: Exposure to asbestos is the single known factor to cause malignant mesothelioma. According to the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), asbestos is the name given to a group of naturally occurring minerals used in certain materials to resist heat or corrosion. Asbestos has been used in products such as insulation, fire brick, floor and ceiling tile and brake shoes. Aerosolized or friable asbestos is the most dangerous type of asbestos as it becomes inhaled and lodged in the lung cavities.
Q: How much exposure to asbestos is needed to contract mesothelioma?
A: Every individual and his or her immune system are different. Any amount of exposure to asbestos could lead to asbestos-related diseases, including mesothelioma.
Q: How long does it take after exposure to asbestos for mesothelioma to present itself?
A: People exposed in the 1940s, '50s, '60s and '70s are now being diagnosed with mesothelioma due to what is called a latency period. This means that although exposure to asbestos may have taken place anywhere from the 1940s to the 1970s, the disease lays dormant and presents itself 10 to 50 years later.
Q: Who is at risk of contracting mesothelioma?
A: Most malignant mesothelioma victims have worked on jobs where they breathed in asbestos fibers. Some of those jobs include working in steel mills, rail yards, foundries, mines and construction. Pipefitters, laborers, millwrights, electricians and shipbuilders all were likely exposed to asbestos. Others have been exposed to asbestos in their household environment, often without knowing it.
Q: I have been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma. How much time do I have to decide if I would like to file a lawsuit?
A: There is a period of time known as the statute of limitations and it determines the time frame in which you have to file a suit. The statute of limitations for cases involving occupational diseases such as mesothelioma often starts when you are first diagnosed with the disease or become aware that it was caused through occupational means. It is imperative to contact an attorney as soon as possible to ensure your case is filed in compliance with the statute of limitations.