What Is Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is a cancer that affects the mesothelium, the thin tissue lining that covers many of the internal organs. There are three forms of the disease: pleural, peritoneal, and pericardial.
Pleural mesothelioma is the most common type of mesothelioma. Tumors grow on the pleura or lining of the lungs and chest cavity. The second most common form is peritoneal mesothelioma, which affects the lining of the abdomen. The rarest, pericardial mesothelioma, develops on the lining of the heart. If you know you may have encountered asbestos in the past, discuss it with your doctor right away, as the initial symptoms of mesothelioma can mirror those of less severe conditions.
What Causes Mesothelioma?
Asbestos exposure causes mesothelioma. Asbestos refers to a group of six naturally occurring minerals. Historically, asbestos has been used in a number of industrial, commercial, and residential applications.
Due to its heat-resistant nature, asbestos use was widespread during World War II. Many members of the military were unknowingly exposed to dangerous levels of asbestos. Veterans, especially Navy vets, are among those commonly diagnosed with mesothelioma, accounting for approximately 30 percent of all cases reported annually.
Other occupations are at a higher risk of exposure, too. Firefighters, first responders, auto mechanics, and construction workers all have an elevated risk of developing mesothelioma. Approximately 125 million people in the world have been exposed to asbestos at the workplace, and it’s estimated that asbestos causes half of the deaths from occupational cancer.
Mesothelioma Latency Period
Mesothelioma has a remarkably long latency period, typically ranging from 20 to 50 years. Latency period refers to the time period between the initial exposure to asbestos and the onset of symptoms.
A person who experienced exposure to asbestos as a young adult may discover they have a disease like mesothelioma many decades later. The extended latency period is the primary reason that mesothelioma largely affects seniors.
Legal and Financial Compensation
Victims of mesothelioma are usually eligible for financial compensation. There are lawyers who specialize in helping victims seek justice for negligent asbestos exposure.
In the United States, there is an estimated $37 billion in asbestos trust funds. A specialized asbestos attorney will be able to guide you and your family through the process of pursuing legal action. The lawyer will likely file a personal injury lawsuit if the patient is still living or a wrongful death suit for the surviving family if the victim has passed away. Veterans typically qualify for additional compensation.
Veterans and Mesothelioma
As previously mentioned, veterans account for around 30 percent of all mesothelioma cases. Veterans who served in World War II have the highest risk of having been negligently exposed to asbestos. For this reason, veterans are often eligible to receive special compensation and benefits.
Filing a VA claim can be a complicated process. Veterans facing mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease will want to work with a specialized asbestos attorney. An experienced lawyer will ensure that you receive the most financial compensation possible.
Caring for Someone With Mesothelioma
Caring for someone with an aggressive cancer like mesothelioma can be very taxing on family members and loved ones. Common tasks a caregiver may take on include feeding and bathing your loved one, assisting with housekeeping, transporting them to and from medical appointments, administering and tracking medication, and sometimes managing financial and legal matters.
Although it can feel very isolating, it’s important to remember that as a caregiver, you are not alone. There are many support resources available to caregivers. Taking time to care for yourself will allow you to provide better care to your loved one.
Find Assisted Living or Hospice Care
Many seniors with mesothelioma eventually move into an assisted living home or hospice. Below are a few resources to help you find reputable assisted living facilities or hospice care centers.
- Senior Living
- Assisted Living Social
- A Place For Mom
- National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization
If you have questions about support, treatment, taking legal action, or any other mesothelioma-related concern, download our free mesothelioma guide to learn more.