The aftermath of asbestos usage in the United States has left an often tragic and even devastating path of destruction for exposure victims. For close to 100 years, between the late 1800s and mid- to late-1900s, millions of people were unknowingly exposed to a toxic and potentially fatal material. Many were exposed at work, while others came into contact with asbestos in their own homes-either from building components used during construction or through a process called secondary exposure.
Life after asbestos goes on with no detectable consequences for many people. But for the small and unfortunate portion that develops an asbestos-linked illness-such as asbestosis, mesothelioma or other forms of cancer-life is never the same again. All of these chronic and pervasive conditions cause significant physical and emotional distress for the victim-and in the case of mesothelioma cancers, death.
There is much information available about asbestos, its consequences and options for legal recourses. The objective of this months’ blogs is to offer victims of asbestos an easy and straightforward guide that is designed to cover a myriad of topics-from veteran exposure and cutting-edge treatment options to choosing a legal representative and taking your personal injury case to court.
PART IX: A CLOSER LOOK AT PERITONEAL MESOTHELIOMA
Peritoneal mesothelioma is the second most common form of the disease, occurring in somewhere between 10 and 30 percent of diagnosed patients in the U.S. each year. Originating in the peritoneum-a thin, film-like protective barrier coating the abdominal cavity and its contents-it is caused by ongoing damage from trapped asbestos fibers that cause scarring and, eventually, malignant tumor formation.
Symptoms to Look Out For
All forms of mesothelioma cancer are notorious for their long latency period and ambiguous symptomology. Both factors, combined with the relative rarity of the disease itself, lead to frequent missed or misdiagnoses. Anyone with a known history of past exposure to asbestos, no matter how long ago it occurred, are cautioned to be vigilant about their health and comfortably familiar with the following list of peritoneal mesothelioma symptoms:
- Swelling of the abdomen
- Abdominal pain and/or nausea with or without vomiting
- Loss of appetite
- Digestive disturbances including diarrhea and/or constipation
- Unexplained weight loss and/or fatigue
- Otherwise-unattributed anemia
- Elevated white blood cell count
- Blood clotting abnormalities
- Intestinal obstruction
Diagnostic Measures and Clinical Types
A conclusive mesothelioma diagnosis – for any form of the disease-requires a biopsied sample of either tissue or fluid from the affected area. Prior to a biopsy, non-invasive imaging procedures-including CT and PET scans, MRIs or chest x-rays-are commonly used to examine possible malignancies and determine whether further testing is indicated.
Once affirmatively diagnosed, peritoneal mesothelioma is also identified as either the “dry” or “wet” type. Criteria for the “dry” classification include either a single dominant mass or multiple small masses and little or no ascites (a medical term for fluid accumulation in the peritoneal cavity). The “wet” type is positive for ascites, contains no dominant mass and features tiny nodules (a medical term for aggregation of cells) that are widely distributed across the affected region.