When people say that asbestos is a human carcinogen, what they mean is that there is a direct connection between exposure to asbestos and the development of serious cancers later in life. Mesothelioma is a form of cancer that begins in the organ linings and is strongly associated with asbestos exposure.
People who handle asbestos or even those who’ve lived with workers that handled asbestos may receive a diagnosis of mesothelioma. It often takes multiple decades for asbestos exposure to result in a cancer diagnosis. There are several different kinds of mesothelioma that people may develop after exposure to asbestos, and each of them has a different implication for someone’s prognosis and overall quality of life.
What does it mean when a doctor diagnoses someone with malignant pleural mesothelioma?
Pleural mesothelioma starts in the lungs
Plural mesothelioma begins to develop in the lungs and then eventually metastasizes (spreads) to other parts of the body. Given that the lungs are often the primary point of exposure for workers, it may not surprise people to learn that more than 80% of domestic mesothelioma cases start in the lungs.
This form of cancer is often aggressive once it develops to the point where diagnosis is possible. The prognosis for those diagnosed with this cancer is generally poor, but those that are able to afford cutting-edge therapies may have a higher quality after their diagnosis. Immunotherapies may provide real hope for those with aggressive cancers, but such treatments are largely still experimental and therefore not covered by insurance in some cases.
If a doctor diagnoses someone with early-stage pleural mesothelioma, surgical treatment may be an option. Generally, radiation therapy is only used for specific types of tumor development. Chemotherapy is the more common treatment choice, with doctors using platinum-based options. Unfortunately, even when surgery is successful, tumor recurrence is common. Patients can expect care to focus on improving their comfort in most cases.
Pursuing an asbestos claim against a former employer is one way for those acclimating to a recent diagnosis of malignant pleural mesothelioma to secure the best treatment possible and continue to support their families even as their condition progresses.