The Resources and Tools You Need to Brave the Devastating Diagnosis of Mesothelioma
Shock, disbelief, anger, helplessness. You will confront at least one, if not all of these emotions when first learning of your own mesothelioma diagnosis or that of someone you love. 1-800-LAW-FIRM understands the life-altering consequences and suffering a diagnosis of mesothelioma causes, not only for the patient, but for their family as well.
We’ve learned from those who endured the complexities of a mesothelioma diagnosis what knowledge and tools they wish they had when they first received the news. This resource center is the outcome of their invaluable input and recommendations.
What is Mesothelioma?
Malignant mesothelioma is a rare, aggressive cancer that affects the cells of the mesothelium tissue that lines several body cavities and most often affects the lungs, abdomen and heart.
There are four types of Mesothelioma:
- Pleural (lungs): Affects approximately 75% of all Mesothelioma patients
- Peritoneal (abdominal): Affects approximately 10-20% of all Mesothelioma patients
- Pericardial (heart): Affects approximately 1% of all Mesothelioma patients
- Testicular: Affects approximately less than 1% of all Mesothelioma patients
The most common types are pleural and peritoneal and they represent approximately 90% of all mesothelioma diagnoses. Pleural is the most common form and it attacks the lining of the lungs. Peritoneal is the second most common and it develops in the peritoneal membrane that lines the cavity of the abdomen.
What is the Root Cause for all the Various Types?
Asbestos, a known carcinogen and naturally occurring mineral, is the exposure culprit that breeds this disease. At one time, asbestos was revered for its heat resistance, versatility and insulating capabilities. It was once widely used in home and commercial construction. Today, asbestos is known for being highly toxic and responsible for the cause of mesothelioma. The use of asbestos is banned in over 50 countries, but not in the United States.
Prolonged exposure to asbestos in the workplace is the most common factor that most Mesothelioma patients share.
High-risk occupations include:
- Machinery and auto mechanics
- Construction workers
- Railroad workers
- Drywall installers
- Sheet metal workers
What are the Symptoms?
It is important to keep in mind that the symptoms for each type of mesothelioma vary widely, but we have highlighted some of the most common symptoms for the two main types of mesothelioma.
Pleural (lungs) Symptoms Include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chronic cough
- Chronic chest pain
- Difficulty with swallowing
- Fluid buildup
Peritoneal (abdominal) Symptoms Include:
- Stomach pains
- Loss of appetite
- Unexplained weight loss
- Constipation or diarrhea
What are the Treatment Options?
It is recommended to consult with a medical professional to determine the optimal treatment options for individual patients. Options depend on many different factors including the stage of mesothelioma, the type and the age of the patient.
Pleural Treatment Options Include:
- Extrapleural Pneumonectomy: This surgical procedure involves the removal of the diseased lung. It is a common treatment for stage one and stage two patients
- Pleurectomy with Decortication: The surgeon removes the diseased pleura and all tumors. The lungs remain intact
- Chemotherapy: A chemotherapy regimen if often recommended before and after surgery to kill unhealthy cells
- Radiation: This treatment is designed to attack tumors but leaves healthy tissue unharmed
Peritoneal Treatment Options Include:
- HIPEC: This treatment combines surgery and heated chemotherapy
- Tumor removal surgery
What is the Prognosis?
The prognosis varies for everyone. However, there are influencing factors that can significantly impact the hypothesis of how many years a patient may have remaining.
Elements Affecting Life Expectancy Include:
- Type of Mesothelioma:Research has found that those with pleural mesothelioma have a slightly better prognosis than those diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma. It is important to remember that new and more effective treatments are being developed regularly and can contribute to a better prognosis in all types of mesothelioma.
- Malignant vs. Benign Mesothelioma:Malignant mesothelioma is very vigorous cancer and the symptoms don’t usually manifest until stages three or four. A diagnosis of malignant mesothelioma is a direct result of asbestos exposure and has a very high mortality rate. Benign mesothelioma is non-cancerous and not a result of asbestos exposure. The benign version is highly treatable and more rare than malignant mesothelioma. Successful treatment and full recoveries are often experienced with benign mesothelioma patients.
- Stage:An early discovery and diagnosis can play a significant role in the life expectancy of the patient. Often in stage one and two, there will very little spreading if any at all. Additionally, treatments are proven to be more successful in these stages. However, with stages three and four, spreading has often occurred which can make treatment more challenging and less effective.
- Cell type:There are three different mesothelioma cell types– epithelioid, sarcomatoid and biphasic. Biphasic is a mix of epitheloid and sarcomatoid cells. Those patients with epithelioid cells have the best prognosis than those with the other two cell types.
- Sex:More men are diagnosed with mesothelioma that women. This is largely due to occupational differences and the risk of exposure to asbestos. The life expectancy for female patients is approximately six months longer than men.
- Age:Generally speaking, older patients are usually in poorer health than younger patients. Because of this, older patients have a poorer prognosis than younger patients. The older a patient is, the less favorable the prognosis.
How Do I Prepare Myself and My Family for the Journey Ahead?
If the prognosis is less than ideal for the patient, it is time to understand their desires for how they would like to be treated during and after their life’s journey. The Five Wishes Living Will gives the patient control and enables them to pass from this life with dignity and with the knowledge that their loved ones understand their final requests. Five Wishes gives mesothelioma patients an avenue to communicate the things that matter:
- The kind of medical treatment they would like or not like
- How comfortable they want to be
- How they want to be treated
- Who can make decisions for them when they are no longer able
- What they want their family to know and understand
1-800-LAW-FIRM is offering this free resource for mesothelioma patients and their families. Complete the form on the sidebar or call 1-800-LAW-FIRM to request your free copy.
What Are My Legal Rights?
Contact 1-800-LAW-FIRM to receive your free, confidential consultation. Our attorneys have years of experience working with mesothelioma patients and their families. They can help navigate the complexity of the legal process and make recommendations customized specifically for you and your case.