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Mesothelioma Claims

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With so many solicitors advertising legal services it may be difficult to find the right solicitor for your mesothelioma claim. Our independent service specialises in finding an expert solicitor to represent your interests. This is a free service which will make the process of finding and choosing a solicitor easier and more informed for victims of asbestos and other dust diseases.

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Mesothelioma from asbestos

The mesothelium is a membrane (protective sac) that covers and protects most of the internal organs of the body. Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer in which cancerous cells are found in the mesothelium. Workers who develop Mesothelioma are those who have inhaled asbestos particles.

Working with asbestos is the major risk factor for mesothelioma. Approximately about 70 percent to 80 percent of all cases of mesothelioma occur in persons who report a history of asbestos exposure at work. Asbestos is substance that has been widely used in many industrial products, including cement flooring products, and insulation. Asbestos has been mined and used commercially since the late 1800s.

Those most at risk have included shipyard workers, people who work in asbestos mines and mills, producers of asbestos products, workers in the heating and construction industries, and other tradespeople.

When tiny asbestos fibres or particles are inhaled or swallowed, there may be severe health consequences such as: asbestosis ( a chronic lung disorder) and mesothelioma and lung cancer. The risk of developing an asbestos-related disease increases with heavier exposure to asbestos and longer exposure time. However, it only takes brief exposure to develop asbestosis or mesothelioma.

With mesothelioma, cells of the mesothelium become abnormal and divide out of control. As the cells continue to divide, the cancer may spread to nearby tissues and organs. Mesothelioma occurs more often in men than in women and risk increases with age, but this disease can appear at any age.

Symptoms of Mesothelioma

Symptoms of mesothelioma may not appear until 30 to 50 years after exposure to asbestos. Initially there is shortness of breath and chest pain due to fluid build-up in the pleura (pleural mesothelioma). With peritoneal mesothelioma you may experience weight loss, abdominal pain, bowel obstruction, anaemia and fever.

Diagnosis of Mesothelioma

Diagnosis of an asbestos-related disease begins with a review of the patient's medical history, including any history of asbestos exposure. A doctor will examine you physically, and order chest x-rays or abdomen x-rays and lung function tests. A CT (or CAT) scan or an MRI may also be useful.

A biopsy is needed to confirm a diagnosis of mesothelioma. In a biopsy, a sample of tissue from the lungs is removed for examination by a pathologist. If the cancer is in the chest, the doctor may perform a thoracoscopy. If the cancer is in the abdomen, the doctor may perform a peritoneoscopy. To obtain tissue for examination, the doctor makes a small opening in the abdomen and inserts a special instrument called a peritoneoscope into the abdominal cavity.

A pathologist or histopathologist will be able to examine the tissue specimen to determine at what stage your cancer is at. Your doctor will be able to devise a treatment plan, depending upon the staging (or extent of your cancer).

Treatment for Mesothelioma

Treatment for mesothelioma depends on the location of the cancer, the stage of the disease (whether the cancer has spread to other organs), and the patient's age. Standard treatment options include surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. Sometimes a combination of these treatment is necessary.

When surgery is required, the doctor may remove part of the lining of the chest or abdomen and some of the tissue around it. For cancer of the pleura a lung may be removed. Sometimes part of the diaphragm, the muscle below the lungs that helps with breathing, is also removed. Surgery can provide relief from symptoms and sometimes the bulk of the tumour can be removed. Surgery is often used in combination with other treatments, but its value is very limited if the tumour is near any vital organs.

Radiation therapy (radiotherapy) involves the use of radiation to kill cancer cells. Radiation therapy affects the cancer cells only in the treated area. This is the least invasive method of treatment. Usually, it is not a primary treatment but is used in conjunction with other therapies such as surgical resection and chemotherapy. It is generally used to reduce the size of the symptomatic tumor and help relieve symptoms like pain and shortness of breath.

Chemotherapy is the use of potent anticancer drugs to kill cancer cells throughout the body. Often, it is offered as an additional therapy alongside radical surgery and/or in combination with radiation therapy or immunotherapy, particularly when the cancer has spread beyond an operable area. Most drugs used to treat mesothelioma are given by an intravenous injection or intrapleurally (in the pleural cavity itself.). The drugs used in this procedure are often very toxic and your doctor will need to discuss their effects.

Immunotherapy, also referred to as biological therapy, is based on the theory that it is possible to mobilise the body's own immune defenses against cancerous cells. There are several new experimental immunotherapy treatments such as gene therapy and the use of cytokine proteins such as interferons and interleukins to fight malignant mesothelioma.

Doctors specialising in mesothelioma treatment frequently treat a patient with a combination of therapies. Due to the relative lack of effectiveness of using one type of treatment only, the multimodal combination of treatments holds more promise for survival of malignant mesothelioma patients.

If there is fluid build-up in the chest or abdomen, the doctor may use a needle or a thin tube to drain fluid that has built up. This may provide some pain relief.

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