The only known cause of mesothelioma is asbestos exposure. Most people have unknowingly come into contact with asbestos during their lifetimes from such sources as:
- Asbestos products that deteriorate slowly over time
- Drinking water
- Natural soil deposits
- Household exposure
- Workplace exposure
However, infrequent and insignificant contact is usually not enough to make a person ill. It is when a person is subject to repeated asbestos exposure over long periods of time that can cause mesothelioma cancer to develop in an otherwise healthy individual.
The asbestos factor
Products containing asbestos can release indestructible airborne fibers that can be swallowed or inhaled. These fibers can even attach themselves to clothing, hair or skin and be transferred to another person who was not originally exposed to the asbestos (although this is not common). Once in the body, the armored fibers take hold and remain in the body. Unfortunately, once the fibers are in the body, they begin to damage and even destroy the body. On average, it can take 20-50 years after the asbestos exposure for mesothelioma to develop.
Asbestos particles can linger in the air, unnoticed, for a long time after the particles have been released. The most common internal organs that become affected by asbestos particles include the:
- Lungs – the pleura membrane that lines and protects the lungs becomes inflamed and infected when particles are inhaled. Pleural mesothelioma is the most common type of mesothelioma.
- Abdomen – the peritoneum membrane that lines the abdomen and pelvic cavity becomes infected when particles are swallowed. If diagnosed as malignant, this form of mesothelioma is usually fatal. If diagnosed as benign, the tumors of this type of mesothelioma can be surgically removed.
- Heart – the pericardium tissue that covers the heart and bases of blood vessels becomes irritated and infected when asbestos particles from the lungs travel through the circulatory system and land on the heart. This form of mesothelioma is difficult to diagnose and there is no known cure.
Mesothelioma is a serious and often fatal disease. Early detection is vital in increasing a person’s survival rate. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, please contact Brown | Gould | Kiely, LLP for a free consultation to determine whether you have an asbestos lawsuit.