Mesothelioma – A Cancer Linked to Asbestos Exposure in Shipyards, Mines and on the Railroad
Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer but it’s not so rare in Hampton Roads where thousands of shipyard and other workers have been exposed to asbestos in the past. It is also something I occasionally see in my work with injured and sick railroad workers as well as former shipyard workers.
There’s a clear correlation between exposure to asbestos and mesothelioma. The American Lung Association states: “Most people who have mesothelioma have been exposed to asbestos at work.”
However, not everybody who is exposed to asbestos develops mesothelioma. The disease involves the cells that line an organ, primarily the lungs, abdominal organs, and heart—known as the mesothelium.
“In the most common form of mesothelioma, tumors form on the sac that lines the chest cavity and protects the lungs,” the American Lung Association states.
Here are some frequently asked questions about mesothelioma.
How Common is Mesothelioma?
More than 2,000 cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed every year in the United States. The disease occurs more often in men than in women and the risks of contracting it increase with age, although it can appear at any age.
What Are the Risk Factors For Mesothelioma?
Working with asbestos is the number one risk factor for this disease. A history of asbestos exposure at work is reported in the majority of cases. However, the disease has been reported in a small number of people who have not been exposed to asbestos.
Who is at the Highest Risk of Developing Mesothelioma?
The primary cause of mesothelioma is asbestos exposure. Since the early 1940s, millions of American workers have been exposed to hazardous asbestos dust. High-risk groups included shipyard workers, railroad workers, producers of asbestos products, workers in asbestos mines and mills and those working in the heating and construction industries.
Standards in relation to asbestos are far stricter now than in the past. U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sets strict limits for acceptable levels of asbestos exposure in the workplace. Wearing personal protective equipment lowers the risk of exposure. Family members of those who are exposed to asbestos also face an elevated risk of developing mesothelioma.
What Are the Symptoms of Mesothelioma?
The symptoms of the disease may not appear until 30 to 50 years after exposure to asbestos. An accumulation of fluid in the pleura causes shortness of breath and pain in the chest.
Other symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma may include blood clotting, bowel obstruction, anemia, and fever. If the cancer has spread beyond the mesothelium to other parts of the body, symptoms can include pain, trouble swallowing, or swelling of the neck or face.
Is it Survivable?
Mesothelioma is a terrible disease that is a death sentence for many. But there are survival stories. Paul Krause who was diagnosed in 1997, went on to write a book about surviving mesothelioma.
Is it Possible to Take Legal Action?
There are long latency periods on many of these diseases so that the exposure might be in Year 1 and the cancer doesn’t appear until decades later. Nonetheless, the railroad worker has a right to sue the company for their negligence in causing the cancer under the Federal Employers Liability Act (or FELA). If you or a loved one has had lung cancer or mesothelioma and worked in the railroad industry you need to talk to an experienced FELA lawyer as soon as possible.
If you are diagnosed with mesothelioma, you may have grounds to file a lawsuit against the company that exposed you to asbestos. In recent years there have been a number of high value lawsuits brought by workers, or families of workers, who contracted mesothelioma from their time at the shipyard in Newport News, VA, as well as other shipyards. Although the payout figures are often large, you can’t put a value on a human life. All cases are unique and we can’t guarantee the result of
Contact Us Today
If you are diagnosed with mesothelioma you should contact an experienced Virginia personal injury attorney at the Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers. Call us at (757) 333-3333.