Jun 7, 2009

Mesothelioma: Lung Cancer Associated with Asbestos Exposure

Do you want to share?

Do you like this story?

Mesothelioma has been such a rare disease, or one recognized so infrequently, that it has not been coded as a separate cause of death and has been seriously underestimated in mortality statistics. The age-adjusted incidence of pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma in the United States has been estimated at 14.2 per million per year, with almost a three-fold increase for pleural mesothelioma in Caucasian males between 1973 and 1984. The male-female ratio is about 4:1, and 80% arise from the pleura. Cases tend to be clustered in areas of asbestos product plants and shipbuilding facilities. Similar trends have been reported in other industrialized countries, such as England.

In autopsy studies, the frequency of malignant mesothelioma varies from 0.02 to 0.7%, with a rate of 0.2% in the largest series. In most hospital series, the pleura is more often involved than the peritoneum, with a predominance of the right side over the left (60:40). In some epidemiologic studies monitoring cohorts of asbestos workers, however, the peritoneal form is more common than the pleural.

The mean age of patients is approximately 60 years, but the disease can occur at any age, including in childhood. In a review of 80 children with a diagnosis of malignant mesothelioma, the mean age was 9.7 years, and 59% were male. Only 2 children were noted to have a history of possible asbestos exposure, 1 had received radiotherapy for Wilms’ tumor, and 1 had been exposed to isoniazid in utero.

A unique feature of mesothelioma is its strong relationship with asbestos exposure, which has recently led to great public concern in view of the ubiquitous presence of that mineral.  Despite the fact that the dangers of asbestos exposure have been known since the 1920s, this fire resistant, lung incinerating material is still used in production and construction today. Granted, the government came forward in 1980 and placed a few new rules and regulations in place to help minimize the effects of too much asbestos exposure, but Mesothelioma victims will tell you that it was simply a case of a little too little and a little too late.

Public awareness of Mesothelioma has risen ten fold over the past ten to fifteen years, making it even more detrimental that companies today are still utilizing this material. There is very little payoff which would entice anyone with the necessary education into working in conditions that are likely to cause Mesothelioma.

People do not have the information they need regarding asbestos exposure and the threat that Mesothelioma presents in their life. Withholding such information leaves people at a serious disadvantage when it comes to making educated decisions about their health as it pertains to the work environment. It is fair to say that people do not typically willingly expose themselves to high levels of asbestos knowing the threat of Mesothelioma is very real and very ugly.

Mesothelioma settlements reflect the company's acknowledgement as to their culpability in these cases. While there is the perpetual excuse that companies tend to settle a Mesothelioma lawsuit to avoid negative press, there is much more truth to the notion that a company is much more willing to shell out to a Mesothelioma victim they are readily convinced contracted the disease while working for their company than they are to give hand outs to people they believe did not get sick working for them. A fight is only worth fighting when you believe you can win.

Not every case of Mesothelioma is one that will end up in settlement or a Mesothelioma lawsuit. A competent Mesothelioma Lawyer will honestly tell you that not every case of Mesothelioma is able to make it to court or settlement.