Asbestos Mesothelioma Video


Asbestos and Mesothelioma - Risks, Complications, Symptoms, Treatment, Legal, Lawyers: Mesothelioma - What is it?

Asbestos and Mesothelioma - Risks, Complications, Symptoms, Treatment, Legal, Lawyers: Mesothelioma - What is it?

Asbestos laces many residential soils

Either people never knew or have forgotten that asbestos is a naturally occurring substance. In its mineral form, shallow natural deposits of asbestos occur in 50 of 58 California counties and in 19 other states.

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The Shameful Past of Asbestos & Big Business

We are all vulnerable when companies act outrageously. If a corporation discovers that its products contain a substance that is dangerous to human health we want companies to do the right thing and warn employees and consumers and get the danger out of the product fast. But history has shown that such expectations are often unrealistic.

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Jury Awards 9 Million Dollars to New York Mesothelioma Victims For Damages Caused By Asbestos Exposure

New York, NY (PRWEB) -- A New York City jury awarded a total of 9 million dollars to compensate two New York City mesothelioma victims and their wives for damages caused by asbestos exposure. The two cases (Rosenberg and Casale) were joined for a single trial before Justice Marcy S. Friedman, Supreme Court, New York County, located in downtown New York City. The mesothelioma law firm representing both families is Levy Phillips & Konigsberg, LLP ("LPK") whom have represented New York families affected by mesothelioma for more than two decades. The jury verdicts in these cases are being viewed as ground-breaking by mesothelioma trial attorneys, as the verdicts were handed down against companies against whom no jury verdicts had ever been returned in the long history of asbestos exposure litigation in New York City.

The case of Joel and Sharon Rosenberg v. Alpha Wire Company, et. al, Index No. 106697/06 involved the asbestos exposure that Mr. Rosenberg sustained as the result of working as a life-long electrician in New York with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers ("IBEW"), Local 3. Mr. Rosenberg started in the trade while still a teenager in 1960. He suffered asbestos exposure while working in New York as an electrician. Mesothelioma due to workplace asbestos exposure developed in Mr. Rosenberg from a variety of New York worksites including the Arthur Kill Powerhouse in Staten Island, the Vista Hotel in the Financial District, the Cross Bay Bridge and the Deutsche Bank Building. Mr. Rosenberg, sustained asbestos exposure in the workplace from a variety of sources including the cutting, sawing and skinning of wire and cable that was insulated with asbestos.

In the Rosenberg case, the New York jury returned a verdict in favor of the Rosenberg's against a manufacturer of asbestos-containing power cable. This represents the first verdict against a manufacturer of cable used in a commercial setting in the history of asbestos exposure litigation in New York. The jury awarded $3 million for Mr. Rosenberg's pain and suffering and $1 million to Mrs. Rosenberg for loss of services and society. Mr. Rosenberg developed mesothelioma during his retirement while living in New Jersey. He died at the age of sixty-four.

The Casale case (Joseph and Dolores Casale, Index No. 104299/06), involved the asbestos exposure of Mr. Casale during his career as a steam fitter (also known as pipe fitter) in New York. At the time, steamfitters were unknowingly endangered with asbestos exposure in their workplace due to asbestos being used on equipment such as valves, steam trap and boilers. While still a teenager Mr. Casale worked at shipyards, including the Brooklyn Navy Yard, as a member of the Local 638 Union. Mr. Casale continued in the same union and worked in the steam fitter trade at job sites in New York City throughout the 1960s and 1970s. Mr. Casale later moved to Florida but his mesothelioma diagnosis was linked to his asbestos exposure which occurred in New York. Mr. Casale was exposed to asbestos from various products including valves and steam traps, from both internal asbestos components and asbestos insulation that was applied to the products.

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73 Year Old Apprentice's Family Awarded $2.25 Million For Asbestos Exposure In Workplace

New York, NY (PRWEB) -- A New York City jury awarded $2.25 million in the case of 73 year old Leonard Shafer who had exposure to asbestos in his workplace as a civilian employee at the New York Naval Shipyard (Brooklyn Navy Yard) in the 1950's. New York Mesothelimoa lawyers, Levy, Phillips & Konigsberg, L.L.C., helped prove Shafer developed pleural mesothelioma, which is an aggressive, incurable cancer during his career at the Shipyard.

"Mr. Shafer endured pain and suffering that spanned an eighteen month time period from the time he was diagnosed until the time of the death," said Carmen St. George, New York's top Mesothelioma Lawyers from Levy, Phillips, Konigsberg. "Many years ago, nobody knew the affects of being exposed to asbestos in the workplace and unfortunately today, we are being faced with the dangers."

Like so many of his colleagues, Mr. Shafer never wore respiratory protection and was unaware of the dangers of asbestos. John Crane, Inc. was the company that manufactured and supplied the asbestos-containing stuffing tube packing material to the U.S. Navy for use on Navy ships. In this asbestos exposure lawsuit, the jury determined that exposure to the John Crane packing material caused Mr. Shafer's mesothelioma, and that his illness was reasonably foreseeable to the company.

The New York mesothelioma lawyers have won several significant jury verdicts in the course of more than 25 years of representing victims who suffer from the affects of asbestos exposure in the workplace, including: the first ever asbestos verdict against the welding industry; the first ever asbestos verdict against the talc industry; the largest verdict in the nation against a manufacturer of Navy cable; and the largest verdicts in the nation against manufacturers of asbestos gaskets and packing. New York mesothelioma lawyers at LPK have been recognized on the list of Best Lawyers in America and Super Lawyers.

Many Workers are Asbestos Ignorant

source: BBC News

Most tradespeople are unaware of the health risks linked to asbestos, a survey suggests.
The British Lung Foundation said just 12% of the 400 it questioned knew exposure could lead to them developing the incurable lung cancer mesothelioma.

Three-quarters had not had any training on dealing with asbestos and just over 25% thought some levels were safe.

Asbestos was commonly used for insulation and as a fire-retardant in buildings until the mid-1980s.

The Health and Safety Executive says any building built or refurbished before 2000 could contain asbestos.

It is currently the main cause of work-related ill-health.

Asbestos poses a risk through its fibres, which can become lodged in the lungs when breathed in.

Tradespeople have the highest risk of developing mesothelioma - 20 die from the disease each week and deaths are continuing to rise.

The cancer develops between 15 and 60 years after exposure to asbestos and the BLF is warning that cases are set to peak between 2011 and 2015.

Site checks

It surveyed builders, carpenters, plumbers, electricians, joiners and gas fitters and found one in 10 had felt under pressure to continue working even if they suspected asbestos was present.

In addition, nearly a third mistakenly believed all asbestos had now been removed from British buildings.

Just over 25% thought some levels of asbestos were safe, with builders most likely to think there was no risk.

The majority of tradesmen - 81% - said they never, rarely or only sometimes asked if the site they were working on had been checked for asbestos before they started a job - even though it is a legal requirement for them to be informed if it is present.

Dame Helena Shovelton, BLF chief executive, said: "It is a great worry that those most at risk of this cruel cancer know so little about a killer that could be lurking in the building they're working on today.

"We want mesothelioma to become a disease of the past, but until people put their health first and protect themselves against asbestos that goal can't be reached."

'Serious threat'

A spokesman for the Federation of Master Builders agreed there was too little knowledge about the risks.

He said: "The problem is that there is a general misconception, particularly amongst tradesmen and home owners, that asbestos is a thing of the past so there is no need to worry about it.

"Tradesmen need to understand that this is a serious threat that could be present in any job that they go to, and that they need to understand how to identify asbestos, and what to do when they find it."

All those who work in the building industry, or a related trade, are encouraged to go the Health and Safety Executive website for information on working with asbestos.

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Massena School Groundskeeper Admits To Falsifying Asbestos Documents

Source: The Associated Press

UTICA, N.Y. -- A 48-year-old school official has admitting filing false reports about asbestos removal in school buildings.

According to federal prosecutors, Benny Gladding, of Norfolk, pleaded guilty in federal court to two charges in his role as buildings and grounds superintendent for the Massena Central School District.

He was responsible for overseeing removal of asbestos in school buildings and reporting on the condition of asbestos. The material was once widely used as an insulating material and can be harmful if its particles are inhaled.

Gladding admitted lying to environmental officers a year ago, telling them he had never removed asbestos illegally. He also admitted failing to report in late 2006 the significant friable asbestos on the ground in Jefferson Elementary School that had been on pipes.

Prosecutors said Gladding has agreed to resign at sentencing scheduled July 11.

Officials Rarely Keep Tabs on Asbestos Cases

Some 85 percent of 151 local governments surveyed, including the 47 prefectures, do not keep tabs on the conditions of people who have developed mesothelial tumors due to asbestos exposure, a parliamentary research office said in a survey released Thursday.

Of the 151 local governments, 76 percent were found to have not been exchanging information about the victims with labor standards inspection offices, which recognize situations of sufferers of work-related illnesses caused by asbestos.

The House of Representatives environmental research office conducted the survey on the 151 governments nationwide, including the 47 prefectures and major cities, last December in a bid to find out how local-level authorities are working on measures regarding the asbestos problem. All of the governments responded.

According to the survey, only two governments said they keep tabs on all cases of mesothelial tumors that may have been caused by asbestos. Ten governments said they do so for some of the cases, while 129 said they do not do so at all.

Treatment of Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has issued a Technology Appraisal for the use of pemetrexed for the treatment of malignant pleural mesothelioma, and makes the following recommendations (taken directly from source):

• Pemetrexed is recommended as a treatment option for malignant pleural mesothelioma only in people who have a World Health Organisation (WHO) performance status of 0 or 1, who are considered to have advanced disease and for whom surgical resection is considered inappropriate
• Patients currently receiving pemetrexed who do not fall into the patient population defined above should have the option to continue therapy until they and their clinicians consider it appropriate to stop.

What Should You Ask Your Doctor About Malignant Mesothelioma?

As you cope with mesothelioma cancer and cancer treatment, you need to have honest, open discussions with your doctor. You should feel free to ask any question that’s on your mind no matter how small it might seem. Here are some questions you might want to ask. Nurses, social workers, and other members of the treatment team may also be able to answer many of your questions.

  • What kind of mesothelioma do I have?
  • Has my cancer spread beyond the primary site?
  • What is the stage of my cancer and what does that mean to me?
  • What treatment options do I have?
  • What do you recommend and why?
  • Based on what you've learned about my cancer, what is my prognosis?
  • What risks or side effects are there to the treatments you suggest?
  • What are the chances my cancer will come back with these treatment plans?
  • What should I do to be ready for treatment?
  • In addition to these sample questions, be sure to write down some of your own. For instance, you might want more information about recovery times. Or, you may want to ask about second opinions or about clinical trials for which you may qualify.

Malignant Mesothelioma - Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy is sometimes used as the main treatment of mesothelioma in some patients, especially those whose general health is too poor to undergo surgery. Radiation therapy uses high-energy x-rays to kill cancer cells.

External beam radiation therapy uses radiation delivered from outside the body that is focused on the cancer. This type of radiation therapy is the preferred type to treat mesothelioma. These treatments are much like getting a diagnostic x-ray except for a longer time. A typical course of treatment takes anywhere from 3 to 5 weeks of daily treatments (5 days a week). In general, though, mesothelioma is not helped much by radiotherapy because it is relatively resistant to the effects of radiotherapy. Also, the need to treat a large part of the lung leads to problems with lung damage.

Brachytherapy places radioactive material directly into the chest or the abdomen at the site of the mesothelioma. It is seldom used for this cancer.

Adjuvant radiation therapy can be used in addition to surgery to kill small deposits of cancer that cannot be seen and removed during surgery.

Palliative radiation therapy can also be used to ease symptoms of mesothelioma such as shortness of breath, pain, bleeding, and difficulty swallowing.

Side effects of radiation therapy may include fatigue and mild skin changes that resemble sunburn. Often these side effects are temporary. Radiation may also make the side effects of chemotherapy worse. Chest radiation therapy may cause lung damage and lead to difficulty breathing and shortness of breath. Abdominal radiation therapy may cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. If you are having any of these side effects of radiation therapy, talk with your doctor since there are ways to help control these symptoms.

If fluid collects in the pleural space, radioactive drugs can be put into the space after the fluids are removed. Sometimes they are successful in preventing the fluid from coming back.

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What Are The Key Statistics About Malignant Mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is fairly rare. There are an estimated 2,000 to 3,000 new cases of mesothelioma each year in the United States. The incidence of mesotheliomas in the United States increased from 1970 to 1990 and then stabilized. It may now be decreasing. Most of the past increase in cases, as well as the recent decrease in cases, has been in men. The rate, although lower, has been fairly steady for women. In European countries, the rate of mesotheliomas is still increasing.

Mesothelioma is rare in people under age 55. Its incidence increases with age. Three-fourths of people with mesothelioma are over 65 years old. The disease affects men 5 times more often than women. Mesothelioma is less common in African Americans than in white Americans.

Mesothelioma is a serious disease. By the time the symptoms appear and cancer is diagnosed, the disease is often advanced. The average survival time is about 1 year. The 5-year relative survival rate is around 10%, but this rate has been slowly improving.

The 5-year survival rate refers to the percentage of patients who live at least 5 years after their cancer is diagnosed. Many of these patients live much longer than 5 years after diagnosis, and 5-year rates are used to produce a standard way of discussing prognosis. Five-year relative survival rates do not include patients dying of other diseases and are considered to be a more accurate way to describe the prognosis for patients with a particular type and stage of cancer. That means that relative survival only talks about deaths from mesothelioma. Of course, 5-year survival rates are based on patients diagnosed and initially treated more than 5 years ago. They may no longer be accurate. Improvements in treatment result in a more favorable outlook for recently diagnosed patients.

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Chemotherapy for Malignant Mesothelioma

Chemotherapy is the use of drugs for treating cancer. The drugs can be swallowed in pill form or they can be injected by needle into a vein or muscle. Chemotherapy is systemic therapy. This means that the drug enters the bloodstream and circulates throughout the body (through the whole system) to reach and destroy the cancer cells.

To treat mesothelioma, these drugs may also be given intrapleurally (directly into the chest cavity) or intraperitoneally (into the abdominal cavity). Based on the type and stage of mesothelioma, chemotherapy may be given as the primary (main) treatment or as an adjuvant treatment (treatment given in addition to the primary treatment) to surgery. Chemotherapy for this disease is palliative and not curative.

Several chemotherapy drugs have been used to treat mesothelioma. The preferred combination of drugs for now is pemetrexed (Alimta), which is combined with cisplatin. Because pemetrexed interferes with normal metabolism of folic acid and vitamin B12, these must also be given to avoid side effects. Another combination that has a good response rate is cisplatin and gemcitabine. Another option substitutes cisplatin with carboplatin, which causes much less nausea and vomiting.

Other combinations of drugs used to treat mesothelioma include:

methotrexate and vincristine
cisplatin, vinblastine and mitomycin
cisplatin and doxorubicin
doxorubicin, cyclophosphamide (or ifosfamide), and cisplatin
All the drugs above can be given alone in people who may not be able to tolerate two drugs. Other drugs such as paclitaxel and irinotecan are being studied to determine their effectiveness in treating mesothelioma.

A new, related drug called raltitrexed has also been shown to help patients with mesothelioma when given with cisplatin. Patients who received these drugs lived longer than those who received cisplatin alone.

Chemotherapy drugs kill cancer cells but also damage some normal cells. Therefore, your doctor will pay careful attention to avoiding or minimizing side effects, which depend on the specific drugs, the amount taken, and the length of treatment. Temporary side effects might include nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, loss of hair, and mouth sores.

Because chemotherapy can damage the blood-producing cells of the bone marrow, patients may have low blood cell counts. This can result in an increased risk of infection (due to a shortage of white blood cells); bleeding or bruising after minor cuts or injuries (due to a shortage of blood; platelets); or fatigue or shortness of breath (due to low red blood cell counts).

Most side effects disappear once treatment is stopped. There are remedies for many of the temporary side effects of chemotherapy. For example, you can be given drugs to prevent or reduce nausea and vomiting. If you experience any side effects, be sure to talk with your doctor. provides comprehensive information regarding Asbestos lawyers and Mesothelioma attorneys.

Mesothelioma Complications

As pleural mesothelioma spreads in the chest, it puts pressure on the structures in that area. This can cause mesothelioma complications, such as:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Swelling caused by pressure on the large vein that leads from your upper body to your heart (superior vena cava syndrome)
  • Pain caused by pressure on the nerves and spinal cord
  • Mesothelioma that progresses can lead to death. People who die of mesothelioma usually die from related complications, such as lung failure, bowel obstruction, heart problems, stroke and other causes.

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How Is Malignant Mesothelioma Diagnosed?

If there is a reason to suspect you may have mesothelioma, your doctor will use one or more methods to find out if the disease is present. The first step in diagnosing mesothelioma is recognizing your symptoms.

Signs and Symptoms of Mesothelioma

Early symptoms of mesotheliomas are not specific to the disease. People often ignore them or mistake them for common, minor ailments. Most people with mesothelioma have symptoms for only 2 to 3 months before they are diagnosed. About one-fourth of people have symptoms for at least 6 months before they are diagnosed.

Over half of patients with pleural mesothelioma have pain in the lower back or at the side of the chest. Many report shortness of breath. A smaller percentage have trouble swallowing, cough, fever, sweating, fatigue, and weight loss. Other symptoms include hoarseness, coughing up blood, swelling of the face and arms, muscle weakness, and sensory loss.

Symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma include abdominal (belly) pain, weight loss, nausea, and vomiting. There may also be fluid or a mass in the abdomen.

If you have any of these symptoms and have been exposed to asbestos you should see a doctor right away.

Medical History and Physical Exam

A complete medical history (interview) is taken to check for risk factors and symptoms. This will include questions to determine if you have been exposed to asbestos.

A physical exam will provide information about signs of mesothelioma and other health problems. Patients with pleural mesotheliomas (mesotheliomas of the chest) often have fluid in their chest cavity (pleural effusion) caused by the cancer. Some will have fluid in the abdominal cavity (ascites) in cases of peritoneal mesothelioma, or fluid in the pericardium (pericardial effusion) in cases of pericardial mesothelioma. All these might be detected during a physical exam. Otherwise they will be found by imaging studies.

Rarely, mesothelioma can develop in the groin and look like a hernia.

Imaging Tests

Imaging studies such as x-rays, computed tomography (CT) scans, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans will help determine the location, size, and extent of the cancer.

Chest x-ray: This may show irregular thickening of the pleura, calcium deposits on the pleura, or fluid in the pleural space. These findings suggest asbestos exposure leading to the development of a mesothelioma.

Computed tomography (CT) scan: The CT scan is an x-ray procedure that produces detailed cross-sectional images of your body. Instead of taking one picture, like a conventional x-ray, a CT scanner takes many pictures as it rotates around you. A computer then combines these pictures into an image of a slice of your body. The machine will take pictures of multiple slices of the part of your body that is being studied.

CT scans are often used to make the initial diagnosis of malignant mesothelioma, and are helpful in staging the cancer (determining the extent of its spread).

Often after the first set of pictures is taken you will receive an intravenous injection of a "dye" or radiocontrast agent that helps better outline structures in your body. A second set of pictures is then taken.

CT scans are more tiring than regular x-rays because they take longer and you need to lie still on a table while they are being done. But just like other computerized devices, they are getting faster and your stay might be pleasantly short. Also, you might feel a bit confined by the ring you lie within when the pictures are being taken.

You will have an IV (intravenous) line through which the contrast "dye" is injected. The injection can also cause some flushing (redness and warm feeling). Some people are allergic and get hives or rarely more serious reactions like trouble breathing and low blood pressure. Be sure to tell the doctor if you have ever had a reaction to any contrast material used for x-rays. You may be asked to drink 1 to 2 pints of a solution of contrast material. This helps outline the intestine.

Positron emission tomography (PET) scan: In this test, radioactive glucose (sugar) is injected into your vein. Because cancers use sugar much faster than normal tissues, the cancerous tissue takes up the radioactive material. A scanner can spot the radioactive deposits. This test, which is still being studied, is useful for telling whether a thickening of the tissues is cancer or merely scar tissue. It can also spot spread of the cancer.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)scan: MRI scans use radio waves and strong magnets instead of x-rays. The energy from the radio waves is absorbed and then released in a pattern formed by the type of tissue and by certain diseases. A computer translates the pattern of radio waves given off by the tissues into a very detailed image of parts of the body. Not only does this produce cross sectional slices of the body like a CT scanner, it can also produce slices that are parallel with the length of your body. A contrast material might be injected just as with CT scans, but is used less often. Sometimes MRI scans are useful in looking at the diaphragm (the thin muscle at the bottom of the lung cage that is responsible for breathing) where the mesothelioma may spread.

MRI scans are particularly helpful in examining the brain and spinal cord. MRI scans are a little more uncomfortable than CT scans. First, they take longer — often up to 1 hour. Also, you have to be placed inside a tube, which is confining and can upset people with claustrophobia (fear of enclosed places). The machine also makes a thumping noise that you may find disturbing. Some places will provide headphones with music to block this out.

Blood Tests

As mentioned above, blood levels of a protein called osteopontin are elevated in people with mesothelioma. But this blood test is probably more useful for following a patient’s progress during and after treatment. It is not used to diagnose the disease, although an elevated level may raise suspicions.

Tests of Fluid and Tissue Samples

If you have a pleural effusion (a build up of fluid) a sample of this fluid can be removed by inserting a needle into the chest cavity. A similar technique can be used to obtain abdominal fluid and pericardial fluid. The fluid is then tested to see its chemical make up and viewed under a microscope by an expert in diagnosing cancer (pathologist) to determine whether cancer cells are present. If cancer cells are present, special tests are needed to diagnose whether the cancer is a mesothelioma, a lung cancer, or another type of cancer.

A tissue sample of a pleural or pericardial tumor can be obtained using a relatively new technique called thoracoscopy. A thoracoscope (telescope-like instrument connected to a video camera) is inserted through a small incision into the chest. Your doctor can see the tumor through the thoracoscope, and can use special forceps to take a tissue biopsy. Similarly, laparoscopy can be used to see and obtain a biopsy of a peritoneal tumor. In this procedure, a flexible tube attached to a video camera is inserted into the abdominal cavity through small incisions on the front of the abdomen. Fluid can also be collected during thoracoscopy or laparoscopy. The biopsy specimen will be sent to the pathology laboratory where the pathologist will examine it to determine if it is cancer.

Surgery, either a thoracotomy (which opens the chest cavity) or a laparotomy (which opens the abdominal cavity), allows the surgeon to remove a larger sample of tumor or, sometimes, to remove the entire tumor.

If you might have pleural mesothelioma, the doctor may also do a bronchoscopy. In this procedure a flexible lighted tube is inserted through your mouth, down the trachea, and into the bronchi to see if there are other masses in the airway. Small samples of abnormal-appearing tissue can be removed for testing.

You may also have a mediastinoscopy. A lighted tube is inserted under the sternum (chest bone) at the level of the neck and moved down into the chest. Mediastinoscopy allows the surgeon to view the lymph nodes in this area and remove samples to check for cancer. Lymph nodes are bean-sized collections of immune system cells that help the body fight infections and cancers. Cancers in the lung often spread to lymph nodes, but mesotheliomas do this less often. Tests on lymph nodes can give the doctor information on whether a cancer is still localized or if it has started to spread, and can help distinguish lung cancer from mesothelioma.

It is often hard to diagnose mesothelioma by looking at the cells from the fluid around the lungs, abdomen, or heart. It is even hard to diagnose mesothelioma with tissue from small needle biopsies. Under the microscope, mesothelioma can look like several other types of cancer. For example, pleural mesothelioma may resemble some types of lung cancer and peritoneal mesothelioma may resemble some cancers of the ovaries. For this reason, special laboratory tests are often done to help distinguish mesothelioma from some other cancers.

These tests often use special techniques to recognize certain markers (types of chemicals) contained in mesotheliomas. One test called immunohistochemistry looks for different proteins on the surface of the cells. It can be used to tell if the cancer is a mesothelioma or a lung cancer, which can appear to start in the lining of the chest cavity. A newer test is called DNA Microarray analysis. This test actually looks at genes in the cancers. Mesotheliomas have different gene patterns than other cancers.

The electron microscope can sometimes help diagnose mesothelioma. This microscope can magnify samples more than 100 times greater than the light microscope that is generally used in cancer diagnosis. This more powerful microscope makes it possible to see the small parts of the cancer cells that distinguish mesothelioma from other types of cancer.

What Are the Risk Factors for Malignant Mesothelioma?

A risk factor is anything that increases your chance of getting a disease such as cancer. Different cancers have different risk factors. For example, exposing skin to strong sunlight is a risk factor for skin cancer. Smoking is a risk factor for cancers of the lung, mouth, larynx, bladder, kidney, and several other organs. Individuals exposed to asbestos should be encouraged to avoid tobacco exposure because together the risk for lung cancer is significantly higher than from smoking without a history of asbestos exposure. But having a risk factor, or even several, does not mean that you will get the disease.


The main risk factor for developing mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos. Asbestos refers to a family of fibrous minerals made of silicate. Asbestos was once used in many products such as insulation, floor tiles, door gaskets, soundproofing, roofing, patching compounds, fireproof gloves and ironing board covers, and even brake pads. As the link between asbestos and mesothelioma has become well known, the use of this material has almost stopped. Most use stopped after 1989, but it is still used in some products. Experts have linked this drop in asbestos use to the fact that the rate of development of mesothelioma is no longer increasing.

Still, up to 8 million Americans may already have been exposed to asbestos. Exposure to asbestos particles suspended in air and building materials is much less hazardous except when they are being removed.

Since asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral, it can also be found in dust and rocks in certain parts of the United States as well as the world.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, as many as 733,000 schools and public buildings in the country today contain asbestos insulation. As many as 10% to 15% of schools in the United States may contain asbestos insulation. People who may be at risk for occupational asbestos exposure include some miners, factory workers, insulation manufacturers, railroad workers, ship builders, gas mask manufacturers, and construction workers, particularly those involved with installing insulation. Several studies have shown that family members of people exposed to asbestos at work have an increased risk of developing mesothelioma, because asbestos fibers are carried home on the clothes of the workers.

The incidence rate for mesothelioma in men is dropping, probably because they are no longer being exposed directly to asbestos in their work. But the incidence rate for mesothelioma in women is steady, which suggests that they are being exposed in a way that is not directly tied to work, but more to their environment either at home or work. One example would be asbestos in buildings where they work or live. A study from California also links mesothelioma to naturally occurring asbestos deposits in mountains.

Another important point about asbestos and mesothelioma is that the risk of mesothelioma does not drop with time after exposure to asbestos. The risk appears to be lifelong and undiminished.

There are 2 main forms of asbestos -- serpentine and amphiboles.

Serpentine fibers are curly and pliable. Chrysotile is the only type of serpentine fiber and it is the most widely used form of asbestos.

Amphiboles are thin, rod-like fibers. There are 5 main types — crocidolite, amosite, anthrophylite, tremolite, and actinolyte. Amphiboles (particularly crocidolite) are considered to be the most carcinogenic (cancer-causing).

However, even the more commonly used chrysotile fibers are associated with malignant (cancerous) mesotheliomas and should be considered dangerous as well.

When asbestos fibers are inhaled, most are cleared in the nose, throat, trachea (windpipe), or bronchi (large breathing tubes of the lungs). Fibers are cleared by sticking to mucus inside the air passages and being coughed up or swallowed. The long, thin, fibers are less readily cleared, and they may reach the ends of the small airways and penetrate into the pleural lining of the lung and chest wall. These fibers may then directly injure mesothelial cells of the pleura, and eventually cause mesothelioma.

Asbestos fibers can also damage cells of the lung and result in asbestosis (formation of scar tissue in the lung), and/or lung cancer. The risk of lung cancer among people exposed to asbestos is increased by 7 times, compared with the general population. Indeed, asbestosis, mesothelioma, and lung cancer are the 3 most frequent causes of death and disease among people with heavy asbestos exposure. Peritoneal mesothelioma, which forms in the abdomen, may result from coughing up and swallowing inhaled asbestos fibers. Cancers of the larynx, pancreas, esophagus, colon, and kidney may also come from asbestos exposure, but the increased risk is small.

The risk of developing a mesothelioma is related to how much asbestos a person was exposed to and how long this exposure lasted. People exposed at an early age, for a long period of time, and at higher levels are most likely to develop this cancer. Mesotheliomas take a long time to develop. The time between first exposure to asbestos and diagnosis of mesothelioma is usually between 20 and 50 years.


There have been a few published reports of pleural and peritoneal mesotheliomas that developed following exposure to thorium dioxide (Thorotrast). This material was used in the past by doctors for certain x-ray tests. Because Thorotrast was found to cause cancers, it has not been used for many years.


This is a silicate mineral, chemically related to asbestos, common in the soil of the Anatoli region of Turkey. Many cases of mesothelioma have been described in this region and may have been caused by this mineral.


Although tobacco smoking has not been associated with developing mesothelioma, the combination of smoking and asbestos exposure greatly increases the risk of lung cancer. Asbestos workers who also smoke have a lung cancer risk 50 to 90 times greater than that of the general population. More asbestos workers die of lung cancer than of mesothelioma.

SV40 Virus

Some recent studies have raised the possibility that infection with simian virus 40 (SV40) might increase the risk of developing mesothelioma. Some injectable polio vaccines prepared between 1955 and 1963 were contaminated with SV40. About 10 to 30 million people were probably exposed to the virus.

Intentional infection with SV40 of some laboratory animals, such as hamsters, causes mesotheliomas to develop. Researchers also have noticed that SV40 can cause mouse cells grown in dishes to become cancerous, and that asbestos increases the cancer-causing effect of SV40 on these cells. Other researchers have studied biopsy specimens of human mesotheliomas and detected SV40 DNA. However, similar fragments of SV40 DNA can also be found in noncancerous human tissues and some researchers think the SV40 viruses found are contaminants.

Another study did find SV40 virus in tissues from mesothelioma patients that did not appear to be contaminants. In this study, which also looked at tissue from healthy people, the SV40 virus wasn’t linked to mesothelioma unless the person was also exposed to asbestos. The researchers in this study thought the SV40 infection was not caused by the polio immunization, but occurred naturally as do other viral infections.

So far, the largest studies addressing this issue in humans have not found any increased risk for mesothelioma or other cancers among people who received the contaminated vaccines as children. But, the peak age range for diagnosis of mesothelioma is 50 to 70 years. Some researchers have pointed out that this issue may remain unresolved until more of the people accidentally exposed to SV40 between 1955 and 1963 reach that age range. Research into this important topic is still underway.

A recent study by the Institute of Medicine concluded that we still don’t know whether SV40 is responsible for some mesotheliomas and more research needs to be done.

Who is at increased risk for developing mesothelioma?

Asbestos has been mined and used commercially since the late 1800s. Its use greatly increased during World War II. Since the early 1940s, millions of American workers have been exposed to asbestos dust. Initially, the risks associated with asbestos exposure were not known. However, an increased risk of developing mesothelioma was later found among shipyard workers, people who work in asbestos mines and mills, producers of asbestos products, workers in the heating and construction industries, and other tradespeople. Today, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sets limits for acceptable levels of asbestos exposure in the workplace. People who work with asbestos wear personal protective equipment to lower their risk of exposure.

The risk of asbestos-related disease increases with heavier exposure to asbestos and longer exposure time. However, some individuals with only brief exposures have developed mesothelioma. On the other hand, not all workers who are heavily exposed develop asbestos-related diseases.

There is some evidence that family members and others living with asbestos workers have an increased risk of developing mesothelioma, and possibly other asbestos-related diseases. This risk may be the result of exposure to asbestos dust brought home on the clothing and hair of asbestos workers. To reduce the chance of exposing family members to asbestos fibers, asbestos workers are usually required to shower and change their clothing before leaving the workplace.

Are you at risk for developing Mesothelioma? Visit the authoritative Asbestos and Mesothelioma website for more information.

Asbestos Ban and Phase Out

On July 12, 1989, EPA issued a final rule banning most asbestos-containing products. In 1991, this regulation was overturned by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans. As a result of the Court's decision, the following specific asbestos-containing products remain banned: flooring felt, rollboard, and corrugated, commercial, or specialty paper. In addition, the regulation continues to ban the use of asbestos in products that have not historically contained asbestos, otherwise referred to as "new uses" of asbestos. For more information read EPA Asbestos Materials Ban (ABPO Rule): Clarification (PDF) (3 pp., 10 K) - May 1999.

Below are four relevant Federal Register notices:

  • Asbestos: Manufacture, Importation, Processing, and Distribution in Commerce Prohibitions; Final Rule (54 FR 29460, July 12, 1989) (FRL-3476-2) (PDF) (55 pp., 8 MB)
  • Asbestos; Manufacture, Importation, Processing and Distribution Prohibitions; Effect of Court Decision; Continuing Restrictions on Certain Asbestos-Containing Products (57 FR 11364, April 2, 1992) (FRL-4044-2) (PDF) (2 pp., 250 K)
  • Asbestos; Manufacture, Importation, Processing and Distribution Prohibitions; Continuing Restrictions on Certain Asbestos-Containing Products (58 FR 58964, November 5, 1993) (FRL-4635-7) (PDF) (5 pp., 588 K) Technical Amendment in Response to Court Decision on Asbestos; Manufacture, Importation, Processing and Distribution Prohibitions;
  • Technical Amendment (59 FR 33208, June 28, 1994) (FRL-4776-7) (PDF) (4 pp., 350 K)

Asbestos Professionals: Who Are They And What Can They Do?

Asbestos professionals are trained in handling asbestos material. The type of professional will depend on the type of product and what needs to be done to correct the problem. You may hire a general asbestos contractor or, in some cases, a professional trained to handle specific products containing asbestos.

Asbestos professionals can conduct home inspections, take samples of suspected material, assess its condition, and advise about what corrections are needed and who is qualified to make these corrections. Once again, material in good condition need not be sampled unless it is likely to be disturbed. Professional correction or abatement contractors repair or remove asbestos materials.

Some firms offer combinations of testing, assessment, and correction. A professional hired to assess the need for corrective action should not be connected with an asbestos-correction firm. It is better to use two different firms so there is no conflict of interest. Services vary from one area to another around the country.

The federal government has training courses for asbestos professionals around the country. Some state and local governments also have or require training or certification courses. Ask asbestos professionals to document their completion of federal or state-approved training. Each person performing work in your home should provide proof of training and licensing in asbestos work, such as completion of EPA-approved training. State and local health departments or EPA regional offices may have listings of licensed professionals in your area.

If you have a problem that requires the services of asbestos professionals, check their credentials carefully. Hire professionals who are trained, experienced, reputable, and accredited - especially if accreditation is required by state or local laws. Before hiring a professional, ask for references from previous clients. Find out if they were satisfied. Ask whether the professional has handled similar situations. Get cost estimates from several professionals, as the charges for these services can vary.

Though private homes are usually not covered by the asbestos regulations that apply to schools and public buildings, professionals should still use procedures described during federal or state-approved training. Homeowners should be alert to the chance of misleading claims by asbestos consultants and contractors. There have been reports of firms incorrectly claiming that asbestos materials in homes must be replaced. In other cases, firms have encouraged unnecessary removals or performed them improperly. Unnecessary removals are a waste of money.

Improper removals may actually increase the health risks to you and your family. To guard against this, know what services are available and what procedures and precautions are needed to do the job properly.

In addition to general asbestos contractors, you may select a roofing, flooring, or plumbing contractor trained to handle asbestos when it is necessary to remove and replace roofing, flooring, siding, or asbestos-cement pipe that is part of a water system. Normally, roofing and flooring contractors are exempt from state and local licensing requirements because they do not perform any other asbestos-correction work.

Asbestos-containing automobile brake pads and linings, clutch facings, and gaskets should be repaired and replaced only by a professional using special protective equipment. Many of these products are now available without asbestos. For more information, read the web's premiere Asbestos and Mesothelioma guide.

Asbestos Do's And Don'ts For The Homeowner

  • Do keep activities to a minimum in any areas having damaged material that may contain asbestos.
  • Do take every precaution to avoid damaging asbestos material.
  • Do have removal and major repair done by people trained and qualified in handling asbestos. It is highly recommended that sampling and minor repair also be done by asbestos professionals.
  • Don't dust, sweep, or vacuum debris that may contain asbestos.
  • Don't saw, sand, scrape, or drill holes in asbestos materials.
  • Don't use abrasive pads or brushes on power strippers to strip wax from asbestos flooring.
  • Never use a power stripper on a dry floor.
  • Don't sand or try to level asbestos flooring or its backing. When asbestos flooring needs replacing, install new floor covering over it, if possible.
  • Don't track material that could contain asbestos through the house. If you cannot avoid walking through the area, have it cleaned with a wet mop. If the material is from a damaged area, or if a large area must be cleaned, call an asbestos professional.

Major repairs must be done only by a professional trained in methods for safely handling asbestos.

Minor repairs should also be done by professionals since there is always a risk of exposure to fibers when asbestos is disturbed.

Doing minor repairs yourself is not recommended since improper handling of asbestos materials can create a hazard where none existed.

Removal is usually the most expensive method and, unless required by state or local regulations, should be the last option considered in most situations. This is because removal poses the greatest risk of fiber release. However, removal may be required when remodeling or making major changes to your home that will disturb asbestos material. Also, removal may be called for if asbestos material is damaged extensively and cannot be otherwise repaired. Removal is complex and must be done only by a contractor with special training. Improper removal may actually increase the health risks to you and your family.

Asbestos and Mesothelioma Legal Information

How To Manage An Asbestos Problem

If the asbestos material is in good shape and will not be disturbed, do nothing! If it is a problem, there are two types of corrections: repair and removal.

Repair usually involves either sealing or covering asbestos material.

Sealing (encapsulation) involves treating the material with a sealant that either binds the asbestos fibers together or coats the material so fibers are not released. Pipe, furnace, and boiler insulation can sometimes be repaired this way. This should be done only by a professional trained to handle asbestos safely.

Covering (enclosure) involves placing something over or around the material that contains asbestos to prevent release of fibers. Exposed insulated piping may be covered with a protective wrap or jacket.

With any type of repair, the asbestos remains in place. Repair is usually cheaper than removal, but it may make later removal of asbestos, if necessary, more difficult and costly. Repairs can either be major or minor.

How To Identify Materials That Contain Asbestos

You can't tell whether a material contains asbestos simply by looking at it, unless it is labeled. If in doubt, treat the material as if it contains asbestos or have it sampled and analyzed by a qualified professional. A professional should take samples for analysis, since a professional knows what to look for, and because there may be an increased health risk if fibers are released. In fact, if done incorrectly, sampling can be more hazardous than leaving the material alone. Taking samples yourself is not recommended. Material that is in good condition and will not be disturbed (by remodeling, for example) should be left alone. Only material that is damaged or will be disturbed should be sampled.

What Should Be Done About Asbestos In The Home?

If you think asbestos may be in your home, don't panic! Usually the best thing is to leave asbestos material that is in good condition alone.

Generally, material in good condition will not release asbestos fibers.

Check material regularly if you suspect it may contain asbestos. Don't touch it, but look for signs of wear or damage such as tears, abrasions, or water damage. Damaged material may release asbestos fibers. This is particularly true if you often disturb it by hitting, rubbing, or handling it, or if it is exposed to extreme vibration or air flow.

Sometimes the best way to deal with slightly damaged material is to limit access to the area and not touch or disturb it. Discard damaged or worn asbestos gloves, stove-top pads, or ironing board covers. Check with local health, environmental, or other appropriate officials to find out proper handling and disposal procedures.

If asbestos material is more than slightly damaged, or if you are going to make changes in your home that might disturb it, repair or removal by a professional is needed. Before you have your house remodeled, find out whether asbestos materials are present.

Examples of Where Asbestos Hazards May Be Found In The Home

  • Some roofing and siding shingles are made of asbestos cement.
  • Houses built between 1930 and 1950 may have asbestos as insulation.
  • Asbestos may be present in textured paint and in patching compounds used on wall and ceiling joints. Their use was banned in 1977.
  • Artificial ashes and embers sold for use in gas-fired fireplaces may contain asbestos.
  • Older products such as stove-top pads may have some asbestos compounds.
  • Walls and floors around woodburning stoves may be protected with asbestos paper, millboard, or cement sheets.
  • Asbestos is found in some vinyl floor tiles and the backing on vinyl sheet flooring and adhesives.
  • Hot water and steam pipes in older houses may be coated with an asbestos material or covered with an asbestos blanket or tape.
  • Oil and coal furnaces and door gaskets may have asbestos insulation. provides comprehensive information regarding Asbestos lawyers and Mesothelioma attorneys.

Where Can I Find Asbestos And When Can It Be A Problem?

Most products made today do not contain asbestos. Those few products made which still contain asbestos that could be inhaled are required to be labeled as such. However, until the 1970s, many types of building products and insulation materials used in homes contained asbestos. Common products that might have contained asbestos in the past, and conditions which may release fibers, include:

  • STEAM PIPES, BOILERS, and FURNACE DUCTS insulated with an asbestos blanket or asbestos paper tape. These materials may release asbestos fibers if damaged, repaired, or removed improperly.
  • RESILIENT FLOOR TILES (vinyl asbestos, asphalt, and rubber), the backing on VINYL SHEET FLOORING, and ADHESIVES used for installing floor tile. Sanding tiles can release fibers. So may scraping or sanding the backing of sheet flooring during removal.
  • CEMENT SHEET, MILLBOARD, and PAPER used as insulation around furnaces and woodburning stoves. Repairing or removing appliances may release asbestos fibers. So may cutting, tearing, sanding, drilling, or sawing insulation.
  • DOOR GASKETS in furnaces, wood stoves, and coal stoves. Worn seals can release asbestos fibers during use.
  • SOUNDPROOFING OR DECORATIVE MATERIAL sprayed on walls and ceilings. Loose, crumbly, or water-damaged material may release fibers. So will sanding, drilling, or scraping the material.
  • PATCHING AND JOINT COMPOUNDS for walls and ceilings, and TEXTURED PAINTS. Sanding, scraping, or drilling these surfaces may release asbestos.
  • ASBESTOS CEMENT ROOFING, SHINGLES, and SIDING. These products are not likely to release asbestos fibers unless sawed, drilled, or cut.
  • ARTIFICIAL ASHES AND EMBERS sold for use in gas-fired fireplaces. Also, other older household products such as FIREPROOF GLOVES, STOVE-TOP PADS, IRONING BOARD COVERS, and certain HAIRDRYERS.

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How Can Asbestos Affect My Health?

From studies of people who were exposed to asbestos in factories and shipyards, we know that breathing high levels of asbestos fibers can lead to an increased risk of:

  • lung cancer;
  • mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of the chest and the abdominal cavity; and
  • asbestosis, in which the lungs become scarred with fibrous tissue.

The risk of lung cancer and mesothelioma increases with the number of fibers inhaled. The risk of lung cancer from inhaling asbestos fibers is also greater if you smoke. People who get asbestosis have usually been exposed to high levels of asbestos for a long time. The symptoms of these diseases do not usually appear until about 20 to 30 years after the first exposure to asbestos.

Most people exposed to small amounts of asbestos, as we all are in our daily lives, do not develop these health problems. However, if disturbed, asbestos material may release asbestos fibers, which can be inhaled into the lungs. The fibers can remain there for a long time, increasing the risk of disease. Asbestos material that would crumble easily if handled, or that has been sawed, scraped, or sanded into a powder, is more likely to create a health hazard.

Read more information about asbestos and its health effects.

Asbestos Litigation and the Law

Asbestos litigation is the longest, most expensive mass tort in U.S. history, involving more than 8,400 defendants and 730,000 claimants as of 2002 according to the RAND Corporation, and at least one defendant reported claim counts in excess of 800,000 in 2006.

Current trends indicate that the worldwide rate at which people are diagnosed with the disease will likely increase through the next decade. Analysts have estimated that the total costs of asbestos litigation in the USA alone is over $250 billion.

Asbestos and Mesothelioma litigation exists outside the United States in England, Scotland, Ireland, the Netherlands, France, Australia, and Japan among other nations. See the companion article for further information.

The volume of the asbestos liability has concerned manufacturers and insurers and reinsuers. The amounts and method of allocating compensation have been the source of many court cases, and government attempts at resolution of existing and future cases.

One notable asbestos lawyer, Peter Angelos, used the vast fortune he gained from asbestos lawsuits to buy the Baltimore Orioles.

For free legal consultation with a qualified Mesothelioma lawyer or Asbestos attorney, visit

What is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a group of minerals with long, thin fibrous crystals. The word "asbestos" is derived from a Greek adjective meaning inextinguishable. The Greeks termed asbestos the "miracle mineral" because of its soft and pliant properties, as well as its ability to withstand heat.

Asbestos became increasingly popular among manufacturers and builders in the late 19th century due to its resistance to heat, electricity and chemical damage, sound absorption and tensile strength. When asbestos is used for its resistance to fire or heat, the fibers are often mixed with cement or woven into fabric or mats. Asbestos is used in brake shoes and gaskets for its heat resistance, and in the past was used on electric oven and hotplate wiring for its electrical insulation at elevated temperature, and in buildings for its flame-retardant and insulating properties, tensile strength, flexibility, and resistance to chemicals.

The inhalation of asbestos fibers can cause serious illnesses, including mesothelioma and asbestosis. Since the mid 1980s, many uses of asbestos are banned in many countries.


Compensation For Asbestos Exposure Injuries

Many effects of toxic asbestos exposure are permanent and irreversible. Although the law seeks to place an injured person in the position he or she was in before an injury, this usually is not possible. Instead, economic compensation thought to be equivalent to the victim's damage is awarded. A plaintiff who can prove that he or she was exposed to asbestos may be able to recover for both the economic and noneconomic consequences of that exposure, including:

  • The cost of past and future medical care;
  • The cost of necessary rehabilitation;
  • Lost past and future wages;
  • Lost earning capacity;
  • Lost enjoyment of life;
  • Emotional distress; and,
  • Past and future pain and suffering.

Another kind of damages that plaintiffs injured by asbestos may be able to recover are "punitive" damages. Punitive damages are intended not to compensate the victim for his or her losses, but to punish the defendant's wrongful conduct. Although punitive damage awards receive a lot of media attention, they are in fact quite rare. The amount of punitive damages awarded is usually based on the wealth of the defendant and the magnitude of its wrongful conduct. Some states require that a portion of punitive damages awards be paid to the state. provides comprehensive information regarding Asbestos lawyers and Mesothelioma attorneys.

Determining Responsibility for Asbestos Exposure

In civil court lawsuits for damages, legal responsibility for injuries caused by asbestos exposure is sometimes determined under the law of product liability. A product liability case arises when someone uses, or is exposed to, a dangerous product that injures them. Liability is usually based on one of three theories: (1) breach of warranty; (2) negligence; or (3) strict liability.

Breach of Warranty

There are two types of warranties: 1) implied warranties; and 2) express warranties. In an asbestos exposure case, you might be able to recover for a breach of an implied warranty under your state's implied warranty statutes, which are usually found in a state's commercial code. Implied warranties accompany the sale and use of many types of products, including those containing asbestos. In essence, implied warranties provide that a product will be fit and safe for its intended purpose.

Liability for a breach of express warranty may exist if the supplier or seller of a product containing asbestos made a claim about the product that ultimately caused someone to buy or use the product, and that claim later turned out to be false. For example, if a supplier claims that using a particular asbestos product is safe, but the product is in fact unreasonably dangerous, the supplier may be liable to a person who relied on the supplier's statements and was injured by the product.


Liability based on a negligence theory requires proof of four elements: (1) the defendant had a legal duty to provide a safe product; (2) the defendant breached that duty; (3) the breach caused an injury; and, (4) the injury resulted in damages to the plaintiff. Fortunately, in cases where a supplier's negligent conduct may be difficult to prove, courts have developed an alternative theory of liability to allow plaintiffs to recover. That alternative theory is called strict product liability.

Strict Liability

Like negligence, the strict product liability theory requires the plaintiff to prove four elements: (1) a strict duty to supply a safe product; (2) a breach of that duty; (3) causation; and, (4) damages. However, strict liability differs from negligence in two key ways. First, under a strict liability theory, the existence of a duty is shown when there is a commercial supplier that manufactures or retails the product -- not just a casual seller. Second, under a strict liability theory, the plaintiff does not need to show that the breach of duty is the result of any negligent action. The mere fact that the product was dangerous or defective is enough to establish a breach of the supplier's duty.

Of the four elements in negligence and strict product liability asbestos cases, causation can often be the most difficult to prove. First, in most lawsuits, defense attorneys will attempt to present scientific reports and studies to try to dispute that asbestos can cause the injury alleged. Second, there is usually a substantial amount of time between exposure to asbestos and the appearance of an injury. Defendants may use that passage of time to argue the injury was caused by exposure to another toxic substance, or a product manufactured by someone else. Therefore, in order to prove causation, the plaintiff must show that the asbestos-containing product can cause the injury claimed, that the plaintiff was exposed to the asbestos in a quantity large enough to cause the injury claimed, and that the plaintiff was not exposed to some other toxic substance or product that could have caused the injury.


Veterans and Mesothelioma

Thousands of men and women who served our county from World War II to Vietnam are sick from asbestos exposure during their military service. Asbestos was often used for a number of military purposes especially construction and ship-building. Due to long latency periods, people who served as far back as the Second World War are only now being diagnosed.While a diagnosis of mesothelioma is bad enough, veterans lack the same rights as civilians when it comes to compensation for their exposure.

According to "sovereign immunity," compensation cannot be sought from their former employer, the federal government. The only legal path for veterans is to try and find companies that were involved in providing or installing the asbestos to which they were exposed. However given the amount of time that has elapsed, most of those potential plaintiffs are out of business or involved in bankruptcy proceedings, making it difficult to receive compensation. More information on mesothelioma can be found at Mesothelioma Web.

Five Tips to the Legal Process for Mesothelioma Patients

Five Tips to the Legal Process for Mesothelioma Patients

Deciding to pursue legal recourse and selecting an attorney to represent you in a mesothelioma or asbestos lawsuit are important decisions that should be made carefully. Below are five tips to consider:

1) You Were Probably Exposed to Asbestos. Some mesothelioma patients know they worked around asbestos, but many do not know how they were exposed. In fact, many are not sure if they were ever near this carcinogen. Unfortunately, there have been thousands of products that contain asbestos - cigarette filters, hair dryers, brakes, basement and roof materials, pipes, boilers, insulation, and many other products found throughout the home and at work. Mesothelioma patients are often not aware that the products around them contained this carcinogen. Also, the latency period (the time from asbestos exposure to mesothelioma diagnosis) can be over 30 years. If you were diagnosed with mesothelioma it is more than likely that you were exposed to asbestos multiple times in your life and that this happened decades before your diagnosis. A skilled lawyer can help you identify the various ways you were exposed.

2) Don't Wait to Discover Your Mesothelioma Legal Options. When you have been given the news about this terrible disease, you may not feel that you have the time to deal with the legal questions - should I file a claim? should I talk to a lawyer? However, you should not wait too long to learn about your legal rights for at least three reasons: Statutes of Limitations - There are statute of limitations which means you only have a limited time to file your case after diagnosis. The statute of limitations time period is set by individual states and varies. If you wait past this time period you cannot file. The clock usually starts ticking on the day of diagnosis.Financial Pressure - A diagnosis can bring financial stress, less income, more expenses, and treatments that are not covered by insurance. Knowing that money may be on the way from filing a claim can bring great financial relief, make more treatment options available, and remove at least one stress.
Lawyers can be Excellent Resources - The more experienced mesothelioma lawyers and law firms can often be excellent sources of information about various doctors and treatment options available for this disease.

3) Don't Pick a Mesothelioma Attorney Based Solely on TV Ads. Many asbestos lawyers advertise on television, however, you should not use a TV commercial as the sole reason to hire an attorney. Actual credentials are what counts. For example, what type of accomplishments has the law firm achieved? How committed are they to cancer cases? How many other cases like yours have they handled?

4) Make Sure You Understand Mesothelioma LegalFees. Contingency is the term that means that the lawyer gets paid only after they collect money for you. Nearly all asbestos related lawsuits are handled on a contingency basis. The amount of the contingency fee that your lawyer can charge varies by state. It is usually between 33% and 40% of the amount that is awarded to you after expenses are deducted. It is important to discuss fees openly, ask what services they cover, how they are calculated, and whether there will be any extra charges.

5) Find a Mesothelioma Trusted Partner Who Cares. For something as important as a mesothelioma lawsuit, your attorney should not only be experienced, skilled, and dedicated, but also a trusted partner who understands the pressures and stress you are experiencing. The lawyer should know that your health needs are the most critical and that the medical aspects of this disease always take precedence over the legal aspects. The best lawyers are those that are not only expert at what they do, but are also caring, supportive, thoughtful and compassionate.

Mesothelioma Legal Issues

The first Mesothelioma lawsuits against asbestos manufacturers were in 1929. Since then, many lawsuits have been filed against asbestos manufacturers and employers, for neglecting to implement safety measures after the links between asbestos, asbestosis, and mesothelioma became known (some reports seem to place this as early as 1898). The liability resulting from the sheer number of lawsuits and people affected has reached billions of dollars. The amounts and method of allocating compensation have been the source of many court cases, and government attempts at resolution of existing and future cases.

Notable People That Died From Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma, though rare, has had a number of notable patients. Australian anti-racism activist Bob Bellear died in 2005. British science fiction writer Michael G. Coney, responsible for nearly 100 works also died in 2005. American film and television actor Paul Gleason, perhaps best known for his portrayal of Principal Richard Vernon in the 1985 film The Breakfast Club, died in 2006. Mickie Most, an English record producer, died of mesothelioma in 2003. Paul Rudolph, an American architect known for his cubist building designs, died in 1997.

Bernie Banton was an Australian workers' rights activist, who fought a long battle for compensation from James Hardie after he contracted mesothelioma after working for that company. He claimed James Hardie knew of the dangers of asbestos before he began work with the substance making insulation for power stations. Mesothelioma eventually took his life along with his brothers and hundreds of James Hardie workers. James Hardie made an undisclosed settlement with Mr Banton only when his mesothelioma had reached its final stages and he was expected to have no more than 48hrs to live. Australian Prime Minister-elect Kevin Rudd mentioned Mr Banton's extended struggle in his acceptance speech after winning the 2007 Australian Federal Election.

Steve McQueen was diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma on December 22, 1979. He was not offered surgery or chemotherapy because doctors felt the cancer was too advanced. McQueen sought alternative treatments from clinics in Mexico. He died of a heart attack on November 7, 1980, in Juárez, Mexico, following cancer surgery. He may have been exposed to asbestos while serving with the US Marines as a young adult—asbestos was then commonly used to insulate ships' piping—or because of its use as an insulating material in car racing suits. (It is also reported that he worked in a shipyard during World War II, where he might have been exposed to asbestos.

United States Congressman Bruce Vento died of mesothelioma in 2000. The Bruce Vento Hopebuilder is awarded yearly by his wife at the MARF Symposium to persons or organizations who have done the most to support mesothelioma research and advocacy.

After a long period of untreated illness and pain, rock and roll musician and songwriter Warren Zevon was diagnosed with inoperable mesothelioma in the fall of 2002. Refusing treatments he believed might incapacitate him, Zevon focused his energies on recording his final album The Wind including the song "Keep Me in Your Heart," which speaks of his failing breath. Zevon died at his home in Los Angeles, California, on September 7, 2003.

Christie Hennessy, the influential Irish singer-songwriter, died of mesothelioma in 2007, and had stridently refused to accept the prognosis in the weeks before his death. His mesothelioma has been attributed to his younger years spent working on building sites in London.

Bob Miner, one of the founders of Software Development Labs, the forerunner of Oracle Corporation died of mesothelioma in 1994.

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Mesothelioma Treatment

Treatment of mesothelioma using conventional therapies has not proved successful and patients have a median survival time of 6 - 12 months after presentation[citation needed]. The clinical behaviour of the malignancy is affected by several factors including the continuous mesothelial surface of the pleural cavity which favours local metastasis via exfoliated cells, invasion to underlying tissue and other organs within the pleural cavity, and the extremely long latency period between asbestos exposure and development of the disease.

Mesothelioma Risk factors

Working with asbestos is the major risk factor for mesothelioma. A history of asbestos exposure exists in almost all cases. However, mesothelioma has been reported in some individuals without any known exposure to asbestos. In rare cases, mesothelioma has also been associated with irradiation, intrapleural thorium dioxide (Thorotrast), and inhalation of other fibrous silicates, such as erionite.

Asbestos is the name of a group of minerals that occur naturally as masses of strong, flexible fibers that can be separated into thin threads and woven. Asbestos has been widely used in many industrial products, including cement, brake linings, roof shingles, flooring products, textiles, and insulation. If tiny asbestos particles float in the air, especially during the manufacturing process, they may be inhaled or swallowed, and can cause serious health problems. In addition to mesothelioma, exposure to asbestos increases the risk of lung cancer, asbestosis (a noncancerous, chronic lung ailment), and other cancers, such as those of the larynx and kidney.

The combination of smoking and asbestos exposure significantly increases a person's risk of developing cancer of the airways (lung cancer, bronchial carcinoma). The Kent brand of cigarettes used asbestos in its filters for the first few years of production in the 1950s and some cases of mesothelioma have resulted. Smoking modern cigarettes does not appear to increase the risk of mesothelioma.

Some studies suggest that simian virus 40 (SV40) may act as a cofactor in the development of mesothelioma.

Staging for Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is described as localized if the cancer is found only on the membrane surface where it originated. It is classified as advanced if it has spread beyond the original membrane surface to other parts of the body, such as the lymph nodes, lungs, chest wall, or abdominal organs.

Mesothelioma Screening

There is no universally agreed protocol for screening people who have been exposed to asbestos. However some research indicates that the serum osteopontin level might be useful in screening asbestos-exposed people for mesothelioma. The level of soluble mesothelin-related protein is elevated in the serum of about 75% of patients at diagnosis and it has been suggested that it may be useful for screening.

Diagnosing Mesothelioma

Diagnosing mesothelioma is often difficult, because the symptoms are similar to those of a number of other conditions. Diagnosis begins with a review of the patient's medical history. A history of exposure to asbestos may increase clinical suspicion for mesothelioma. A physical examination is performed, followed by chest X-ray and often lung function tests. The X-ray may reveal pleural thickening commonly seen after asbestos exposure and increases suspicion of mesothelioma. A CT (or CAT) scan or an MRI is usually performed. If a large amount of fluid is present, abnormal cells may be detected by cytology if this fluid is aspirated with a syringe. For pleural fluid this is done by a pleural tap or chest drain, in ascites with an paracentesis or ascitic drain and in a pericardial effusion with pericardiocentesis. While absence of malignant cells on cytology does not completely exclude mesothelioma, it makes it much more unlikely, especially if an alternative diagnosis can be made (e.g. tuberculosis, heart failure).

If cytology is positive or a plaque is regarded as suspicious, a biopsy is needed to confirm a diagnosis of mesothelioma. A doctor removes a sample of tissue for examination under a microscope by a pathologist. A biopsy may be done in different ways, depending on where the abnormal area is located. If the cancer is in the chest, the doctor may perform a thoracoscopy. In this procedure, the doctor makes a small cut through the chest wall and puts a thin, lighted tube called a thoracoscope into the chest between two ribs. Thoracoscopy allows the doctor to look inside the chest and obtain tissue samples.

If the cancer is in the abdomen, the doctor may perform a laparoscopy. To obtain tissue for examination, the doctor makes a small opening in the abdomen and inserts a special instrument into the abdominal cavity. If these procedures do not yield enough tissue, more extensive diagnostic surgery may be necessary.

Doctors have begun testing the Mesomark assay which measures levels of soluble mesothelin-related proteins (SMRPs) released by diseased mesothelioma cells. The procedure could diagnose mesothelioma earlier than conventional methods thus improving the survival prospects for patients.

Mesothelioma Signs and Symptoms

Symptoms of mesothelioma may not appear until 20 to 50 years after exposure to asbestos. Shortness of breath, cough, and pain in the chest due to an accumulation of fluid in the pleural space are often symptoms of pleural mesothelioma.

Symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma include weight loss and cachexia, abdominal swelling and pain due to ascites (a buildup of fluid in the abdominal cavity). Other symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma may include bowel obstruction, blood clotting abnormalities, anemia, and fever. If the cancer has spread beyond the mesothelium to other parts of the body, symptoms may include pain, trouble swallowing, or swelling of the neck or face.

These symptoms may be caused by mesothelioma or by other, less serious conditions.

Mesothelioma that affects the pleura can cause these signs and symptoms:

  • chest wall pain
  • pleural effusion, or fluid surrounding the lung
  • shortness of breath
  • fatigue or anemia
  • wheezing, hoarseness, or cough
  • blood in the sputum (fluid) coughed up

In severe cases, the person may have many tumor masses. The individual may develop a pneumothorax, or collapse of the lung. The disease may metastasize, or spread, to other parts of the body.

Tumors that affect the abdominal cavity often do not cause symptoms until they are at a late stage. Symptoms include:

  • abdominal pain
  • ascites, or an abnormal buildup of fluid in the abdomen
  • a mass in the abdomen
  • problems with bowel function
  • weight loss

In severe cases of the disease, the following signs and symptoms may be present:

  • blood clots in the veins, which may cause thrombophlebitis
  • disseminated intravascular coagulation, a disorder causing severe bleeding in many body organs
  • jaundice, or yellowing of the eyes and skin
  • low blood sugar level
  • pleural effusion
  • pulmonary emboli, or blood clots in the arteries of the lungs
  • severe ascites

A mesothelioma does not usually spread to the bone, brain, or adrenal glands. Pleural tumors are usually found only on one side of the lungs.

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Mesothelioma - What is it?

Mesothelioma is a form of cancer that is almost always caused by previous exposure to asbestos. In this disease, malignant cells develop in the mesothelium, a protective lining that covers most of the body's internal organs. Its most common site is the pleura (outer lining of the lungs and chest cavity), but it may also occur in the peritoneum (the lining of the abdominal cavity) or the pericardium (a sac that surrounds the heart).

Most people who develop mesothelioma have worked on jobs where they inhaled asbestos particles, or have been exposed to asbestos dust and fibre in other ways, such as by washing the clothes of a family member who worked with asbestos, or by home renovation using asbestos cement products. Unlike lung cancer, there is no association between mesothelioma and smoking.