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Mesothelioma is a fatal disease caused by exposure to asbestos, still killing around 2,500 people in the UK each year, with the North East one of the worst-affected areas.
Mesothelioma is a disease resulting from exposure to asbestos (as are pleural plaques, asbestosis, pleural thickening and lung cancer).
Historically Asbestos was widely used around the world as a fire-retardant and heat-proof material – you can read more about the historical use of the substance here.
Mesothelioma can be caused by inhalation of asbestos particles – either when the asbestos is used in powder or other forms, or when it was degraded after many years use and the particles were “free” and could be inhaled. Exposure can take place where asbestos is sufficiently uncovered, drilling through asbestos board.
We also see circumstances where there was secondary exposure to asbestos particles on the clothes, hair or body of a loved one on return from work. As a consequence of this, the particles became present in the family home, and would be inhaled by members of the family.
There are four kinds of mesothelioma (pleural, peritoneal, pericardial and testicular). Pleural Mesothelioma is by far the most common, affecting the lung cavity, followed by peritoneal (stomach).
Mesothelioma can develop from a single asbestos fibre being inhaled and is not, therefore, always caused by prolonged and repeated exposure. Repeated exposure however can increase the chances of mesothelioma occurring.
Once asbestos fibres have lodged in the lungs, they aggravate the lining of the lungs causing irreparable damage, usually scarring and inflammation of the lung lining, potentially leading to the development of pleural plaques/pleural thickening, asbestosis and, potentially Mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma can take several decades to develop after initial exposure, so that patients are often in retirement, or reaching retirement age (though people as young as in their 20s have also developed the disease) when they are diagnosed.
Symptoms of mesothelioma in the lining of the lungs can include:
Many of these symptoms however are similar to those of other illnesses, which are much less life limiting making early diagnosis quite challenging.
Unfortunately once Mesothelioma develops, it can progress quickly. So early diagnosis is essential.
If you have a history of exposure to asbestos and develop any of the symptoms set out above then consult your doctor without delay.
Having worked on behalf of many asbestos affected clients over the years, we have found that asbestos related disease impacts heavily upon the quality of life not only of the sufferer but also their family.
Although much research is being carried out into therapeutic and palliative treatments there is still, sadly, no known cure for Mesothelioma. Many patients die within two years of diagnosis and treatment usually focuses on making the patient as comfortable as possible. Over recent years, significant strides have been made in this direction as efforts proceed to produce ever more effective palliative courses of treatment.
For more information about legal claims following a mesothelioma diagnosis, contact us or find more information on our website.
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