A mesothelioma diagnosis can be devastating for those who have worked with or around asbestos throughout a majority of their career. Unfortunately for many people who suffer from the deadly disease, a cure is not possible, so treatment is focused on keeping them as comfortable as possible during their last few days.
According to the National Cancer Institute, malignant mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that attacks the tissues surrounding many of the body's internal organs. Approximately 2,500 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with the deadly cancer each year.
In between 70 and 80 percent of mesothelioma diagnoses a history of asbestos exposure during work is reported, according to the Institute. Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that has been used in construction and other industries since the ancient Greek and Roman civilizations, particularly due to its utility as an insulator and resistance to fire.
However, illnesses associated with asbestos exposure have been observed since that time, as Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder wrote about slaves becoming ill due to working with the mineral. He even encouraged people not to buy slaves that had been exposed to asbestos, since they were at an increased risk of dying early.
Since the mid-1960s, the specific consequences of asbestos exposure have become more clear, as the inhalation of the deadly mineral fibers has been proven to cause asbestosis and lung cancer, in addition to malignant mesothelioma.
According to the World Health Organization, approximately 107,000 people around the world die each year as a result of asbestos-related diseases.
In addition to direct exposure at the workplace, there have been some reported cases of indirect exposure to the material leading to asbestos-related diseases. In such cases, a mesothelioma diagnosis can be even more heartbreaking for a family, who will suffer tremendously from the illness.
As a result, many people who receive a mesothelioma diagnosis decide to contact an asbestos lawyer in order to determine if they can receive compensation from those responsible for their development of the rare cancer. Often, these asbestos attorneys can be critically important in determining when, where and how the person was exposed to the dangerous mineral. This is even more crucial as the symptoms of many asbestos-related diseases - including malignant mesothelioma - may not appear for decades after initial exposure.
Seeking the guidance of an asbestos attorney after a mesothelioma diagnosis can help a person to secure the compensation they and their families desperately need. Asbestos settlements and lawsuits can potentially result in compensation for lost wages, mental and physical suffering and medical expenses occurred.
Often, employers are directly responsible for a person's exposure to asbestos and subsequent mesothelioma diagnosis, as many workers do not receive the proper training for handling the dangerous mineral. Occasionally, workers may not even receive the necessary protection while performing tasks near asbestos, increasing their chances of developing a deadly disease even more. In such extreme cases, asbestos attorneys can work to get victims the monetary compensation that they truly deserve.
While the outcome of a mesothelioma diagnosis is often devastating, there are additional treatment options being explored by scientists across the globe, according to the Mayo Clinic. Clinical trials targeting a number of potential drugs and medications are currently underway. Additionally, specific treatment options that have been examined and used in the past include surgery to remove tissue or decrease fluid build-up, chemotherapy and radiation therapy, according to the National Cancer Institute.