Mesothelioma is a vicious type of cancer that most commonly attacks the membrane lining of the lungs, but it can also affect the heart and other areas of the body. Currently, there is no cure for mesothelioma. The people most at risk for developing mesothelioma are those who work in industries that use the building material asbestos. Eighty percent of all mesothelioma cases can be directly linked to asbestos exposure. Commonly affected professions include construction workers, plumbers, asbestos miners, military personnel, ship builders, and car mechanics.
Some people are exposed to asbestos through their environment when asbestos laced products breakdown in buildings. When asbestos is present in the environment and inhaled, the fine particles lodge in the lining of the lungs and settle there. Statistically, between two and 10 percent of people who are exposed to asbestos at some point develop mesothelioma in their lungs later in life.
A secondary risk factor for developing mesothelioma is smoking. Although smoking is not a direct causal factor, smokers who are exposed to asbestos have double the risk of mesothelioma and increased risk of asbestos lung cancer by as much as 50 to 90 percent. It is possible that smoking creates the conditions that make it easier for asbestos to become embedded in the lung lining, leading to inflammation. Other secondary less common causes of mesothelioma are polio vaccines, radiation from X-rays, and exposure to zeolites, simian virus 40 (SV 40) and erionite.
Between 1940 and 1978, asbestos was widely in use in many different forms, though after the toxic nature of asbestos was discovered, it was banned for general use. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), it is possible that as many as 11 million people have been exposed to asbestos. Even now in the United States people are still being exposed, putting them at risk of developing mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma takes many years to show up in the body – symptoms may first appear as many as 20 to 50 years after exposure occurs. There are four different types of mesothelioma, and pleural mesothelioma, which affects the lungs, is the most common type. Between 70 and 90 percent of all mesothelioma cases are pleural. Between 10 and 30 percent of cases are stomach or peritoneal mesothelioma. Cases affecting the heart, known as pericardial mesothelioma, comprise approximately one percent of all cases. Testicular mesothelioma is very rare and accounts for less than one percent of cases.
Because of the direct link between asbestos and mesothelioma, experts advise that there is no level of asbestos exposure that is considered safe and acceptable.
If you or someone you love has developed mesothelioma after asbestos exposure in the workplace, we can help. The Delaware mesothelioma lawyers at Jacobs & Crumplar, P.A. have a proven track record helping workers suffering from mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases. Call us today at 302-656-5445 to schedule a free consultation about your case, or contact us online. From our offices in Wilmington and Georgetown, we serve clients throughout upstate and downstate Delaware.