Mesothelioma and Asbestos: Part II

This post constitutes part two of an introduction to mesothelioma:

Tissue changes resulting from asbestos exposure cause fluid to become trapped between the lung and the chest wall. This trapped fluid induces three symptoms which are often the initial symptoms a patient notices comprising coughing, chest pain, and shortness of breath. The trapped fluid creates uncomfortable pressure between the chest wall and lungs which the patient describes as chest pain under the rib cage. Coughing may accompany these symptoms which are typically the initial symptoms a patient experiences.

Additional symptoms may begin developing over several decades. For instance, weight loss may occur which is a symptom often seen in conjunction with cancerous tumors. Also, anemia may result when mesothelial cells comprising the pleura (lungs) and pericardium (heart) are involved. Blood clotting abnormalities typically present only in severe mesothelioma cases.

Fluid buildup in the abdominal cavity is also problematic for several reasons. First of all, the mere fact that the fluid buildup occupies space causes the patient to experience pain and swelling. Both this fluid buildup as well as tumor formation interfere with the functioning of the digestive tract and nearby organs. Another unpleasant negative consequence is bowel obstruction and the associated difficulties.

Metastasis occurs when cancer moves from the original body part initially afflicted to another body part and thus creates even more problems. If the mesothelioma metastasizes, it may move to the head and neck area causing swelling in the area and possibly difficulty swallowing.

In addition to mesothelioma (cancer of the mesothelium surrounding an organ), asbestos exposure may cause lung cancer wherein the tissue inside the lung itself is involved. Another distinguishing factor between the two asbestos cancers is the prevalence of lung cancer from other causes. In contrast, the only known cause of mesothelioma in the United States is exposure to asbestos.

While any physician can assist you with questions or diagnoses, it may be helpful to interact with a physician specialist. Pulmonologists specialize in lung diseases and oncologists specialize in cancers with some oncologists even focusing particularly on asbestos cancer.

Call the Berniard Law if you or someone you know has been exposed to asbestos so that experienced attorneys may ensure you receive the appropriate assistance.