Mesothelioma, Lung Cancer & Asbestos Claims
Craig W. Brown has over a decade of asbestos litigation experience. He has successfully represented many cancer and mesothlioma victims. If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or an asbestos-related cancer such as lung cancer, you may have questions about the process. Contact us directly for additional insight.
What is asbestos?
Asbestos is a mineral that is naturally occurring and is mined from the ground. Its fibers have excellent heat resistant properties and it has historically been used to protect and insulate against heat.
There are several types of asbestos, but it is clear from scientific research that all asbestos fibers can cause disease. For hundreds of years, people all over the world used asbestos as insulation. Asbestosis was known in ancient times as “slave’s disease” because mine workers would sometimes develop respiratory problems from digging it out of the ground. The Frankish King Charlemagne had a table cloth manufactured from asbestos. Legend says that Charlemagne would amaze his guests by throwing the table cloth in the fire along with left-over food. The guests were amazed when the food burned but the table cloth remained untouched.
Asbestos is a unique danger. When it is stable and not floating in the air, it is generally safe. The danger comes when people cut, tear, mix or otherwise disturb the fibers. Asbestos fibers are so small that they can float in the air for hours or days at a time before drifting back to earth. When asbestos fibers are breathed in, they tend to stick in the bottom of the lungs. The body tries in vain to rid itself of the fibers. Eventually, scar tissue can develop in the lungs where the asbestos settles. Unfortunately, many cancers are linked to asbestos exposure and this scarring process.
What is mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma cancer can almost always be linked to some type of asbestos exposure. Such exposure is often the result of working with asbestos on a daily basis, usually in an industrial setting like an oil refinery, an aluminum smelter or in construction. Because asbestos has what is known as a long latency period, disease can occur decades after initial exposure.
Other people have contracted the cancer through second-hand contamination — washing clothing laden with asbestos dust or because asbestos was used in the original construction of their home or office.
Asbestos fibers are the primary culprit in mesothelioma cancer. There is no “safe level” of asbestos exposure, and all levels of exposure have been known to cause mesothelioma. Some people have worked around asbestos all of their working life and suffered no ill effect. Others develop mesothelioma after extremely slight exposure.
We do know that the longer a person is exposed to asbestos, and the more he/she works around asbestos and products that contain asbestos, the greater the possibility that he or she will develop mesothelioma or other asbestos-related disease.
It can take decades for symptoms of asbestos exposure to appear. It’s not unusual for these symptoms to manifest after 20 or 30 years — and there have been recorded cases of mesothelioma symptoms appearing 50 years after exposure.
The latency, and the fact that the symptoms can be similar to other medical conditions, makes it very difficult to accurately diagnose the disease. Only a trained physician can determine whether a person who has been exposed to asbestos has developed one of the several types of mesothelioma.