What is mesothelioma? What causes it?
Mesothelioma is a rare cancer that affects the body’s mesothelium (the thin tissue lining the chest and abdominal cavities). Mesothelioma is caused by exposure to asbestos, a carcinogenic mineral historically used in commercial and household applications like insulation and automobile parts.
When in place, asbestos does not pose a health threat to humans. However, when disturbed, the tiny fibers become airborne and can be swallowed or inhaled. Similar to a splinter, these fibers weave into your body’s mesothelium with no way of being expelled. Over time, this can cause scarring, impaired lung function, or the eventual development of malignant mesothelioma.
How common is mesothelioma?
Only 3,300 cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed in the United States each year, making it one of the rarest forms of cancer. The National Cancer Institute defines a rare cancer as one with fewer than 15 diagnosed cases per 100,000 people per year.
What is a latency period?
Latency period refers to the time between initial exposure to a toxic substance and the onset of symptoms. Mesothelioma is known for having a very long latency period, ranging from 20 to 50 years. This is the main reason mesothelioma tends to affect older people. While they may have been exposed to asbestos in their early life, the disease can take decades to develop or show any sign of symptoms.
What occupations are at high risk of developing mesothelioma?
About half of all occupational cancer deaths are a result of asbestos exposure. The disease typically affects blue-collar workers who were exposed to asbestos in young adulthood and don’t learn until many years later that they have mesothelioma. Firefighters, construction workers, mechanics, and veterans are all at an elevated risk of exposure to toxic substances like asbestos. For this reason, they are at a higher risk of developing cancers like mesothelioma. For a more comprehensive list of occupations at risk, visit our Causes page.
Why are veterans at a higher risk of developing the disease?
Approximately 30 percent of all mesothelioma victims are veterans. This is primarily due to the rampant asbestos usage during World War II. Young soldiers, especially those serving in the Navy and working in shipyards, were negligently exposed to the carcinogenic mineral.
Many years later, they may discover they have an asbestos-caused disease stemming back to their time in the service. In this case, veterans are usually entitled to financial compensation. Mesothelioma Hub is here to provide the support and resources veterans need to file a VA mesothelioma claim. Contact our team to learn more.
What is a VA claim? How is this type of claim filed?
VA claims can be filed in three different ways: online through eBenefits; at a VA regional benefit office; or with the help of a qualified attorney, Veterans Service Organization, or claims agent. The process of making a claim can be complicated, and one mistake can lead to a denial of coverage. For this reason, we recommend working with an experienced VA claims attorney.
Veterans may also qualify for additional compensation from asbestos trust funds, personal injury cases, and wrongful death lawsuits. Mesothelioma Hub can connect you with an asbestos lawyer who can help you navigate your legal options when facing mesothelioma.
If I have a known history of potential asbestos exposure, can I get tested for mesothelioma early?
Early detection can have a notable impact on a mesothelioma prognosis and the available treatment options. If you think you may have been exposed to asbestos, inform your doctor right away. Once developed, the disease progresses quickly, and the prognosis is generally better when it is discovered early. While mesothelioma can take decades to develop, it is wise to put the disease on your doctor’s radar, as it can be difficult to initially recognize and diagnose.
How is mesothelioma diagnosed?
Mesothelioma is extremely rare and its symptoms often mimic those of less severe conditions. For these reasons, doctors sometimes struggle to accurately diagnose mesothelioma. The only definitive way to diagnose mesothelioma is through a biopsy.
However, doctors also rely on imaging tests and blood tests to identify the presence of mesothelioma. It’s important to partner with an experienced mesothelioma doctor to avoid misdiagnosis and ensure you receive optimal treatment.
How is mesothelioma treated?
Mesothelioma is typically treated with a multimodal plan combining surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. Emerging treatments such as immunotherapy are also being used in conjunction with traditional treatments to improve patient survival times and overall quality of life.
How do I care for a person with mesothelioma?
Caregiving for someone with mesothelioma can be extremely challenging. Tasks to assist your loved one may include: feeding, bathing, housekeeping, providing transportation to and from appointments, administering and tracking their medications, working with their cancer care team, providing support, and perhaps handling financial, insurance, and legal matters.
As a caregiver, it’s important to make sure you are also caring for yourself, as the task can quickly become overwhelming. Remember: though it may feel isolating, you are not alone. There are many resources available to support you.
What are clinical trials? How do I find them?
Clinical trials provide researchers with the opportunity to test and observe potential new treatment options on consenting participants. While there is a certain level of risk when participating in clinical trials since the drugs in question are not yet FDA-approved, when successful, patients have found improved prognoses and better overall quality of life.
Clinical trials can lead to significant breakthroughs in medical research, in turn offering better treatment options for future patients. Visit ClinicalTrials.gov for an active list of mesothelioma clinical trials and speak with your doctor to find out if qualifying trials may be the right course of treatment for you.
How long do people usually live with mesothelioma?
The prognosis for mesothelioma has been historically poor, with the average life expectancy hovering around a year. However, emerging treatments offer patients hope of longer survival times and improved quality of life while living with the disease.
How do I file a legal claim?
There are two kinds of asbestos lawsuits: personal injury and wrongful death. Personal injury suits are filed while the claimant is still alive. These types of lawsuits are governed by the date of their diagnosis. Wrongful death suits are filed by the family after a victim has passed away and are governed by the date of their death. The Mesothelioma Hub team can connect you with an experienced asbestos lawyer to help get you and your family the compensation you deserve.
What is a statute of limitations?
Each state has a set time frame, called a statute of limitations, in which legal claims must be filed. The average time is about three years, but the time period varies from state to state. Personal injury suits and wrongful death suits can have different governing time periods. For a full list of statutes of limitations by state or contact our team to connect with an asbestos lawyer, click here.
What is the average amount of legal settlements?
The average mesothelioma case settles for between $250,000 and $2,000,000 — and sometimes even more — and is based on many factors that may vary from case to case. This financial compensation can be used to cover costs like travel and treatment when necessary, or it can help to recover lost wages.
It’s highly recommended that you work with an experienced asbestos attorney when taking legal action. Your lawyer will ensure you and your family are protected and your chances of successfully pursuing a lawsuit and compensation from asbestos trust funds are significantly increased.
Will a lawsuit against an asbestos company or other related claim filing affect my VA disability benefits?
No. The VA does not consider any money you may be awarded from a lawsuit or bankruptcy trust fund when assessing your eligibility for VA benefits.
What is an asbestos trust fund?
Asbestos trust funds are set up when an asbestos company files for bankruptcy to ensure future claimants receive compensation. In the United States, there are about 60 asbestos trusts, valued at an estimated $37 billion. Mesothelioma victims should consult with a specialized asbestos attorney to seek compensation from these trusts.
Does filing a claim cost money?
No. Lawyers specializing in asbestos cases typically work on a contingency basis, meaning they only get paid a commission of your settlement if you win. Working with a lawyer is highly recommended. They are well-versed in the nuances of these types of claims and will almost completely eliminate your chances of losing the case.
Will a lawsuit against an asbestos company or other related claim filings affect my VA disability benefits?
No. The VA does not consider any money you may be awarded from a lawsuit or bankruptcy trust fund. The VA’s primary financial concern is that you do not “double-dip” on a benefit. The VA will consider your financial situation when the benefit is based on your income level such as a VA pension. The VA Disability Compensation amount is not based on income level or assets. Any assets acquired through the legal system have no effect on disability benefits.
How long does an asbestos claim take? What is the process like?
If a statute is imminent, then a case can be filed immediately. However, preparing for the case, compiling the necessary medical proof, determining product exposure, and handling other legal factors often takes a minimum of six months. Some legal venues expedite mesothelioma cases if the injured party is still living. However, many do not, and it may take over a year for a trial date.
Asbestos trust claims can typically be paid out over 5–18 months. The three biggest variables are: what legal venue may be available (there are often multiple venues available), patient age at diagnosis, and exposure history. (Sometimes establishing exposure to all applicable products can be very difficult and extends the time needed to properly work up the case.)
What evidence is required when filing a claim?
There are two major components in filing a claim: medical proof and exposure proof. The medical diagnosis is easiest – either someone is clearly injured or they are not. The exposure proof can be a challenge if the worker doesn’t remember which asbestos products they were exposed to. A qualified lawyer will be able to help victims identify products of potential exposure based on their job history.