Mesothelioma is a rare but very serious form of cancer-known as one of the most aggressive and terminal medical conditions affecting Americans today. Tragically, it is also one of the most preventable. Mesothelioma is caused almost exclusively by exposure to a known toxic carcinogen called asbestos that, despite stringent and overarching government regulation, remains a material used in some specific sectors of the American manufacturing industry today.
There is much information about mesothelioma and its relation to asbestos floating around today; and not all of that information is current, comprehensive or even entirely factual. Also, many of the resources out there are not designed for victims themselves, failing to answer the most pressing questions of those directly affected by the disease or presenting those answers in a convoluted or excessively technical context that is difficult for the average person to understand.
In response to these deficits, we have created this six-part guide with the informational needs of mesothelioma victims and their loved ones in mind. The following articles are designed to be both brief and comprehensive, as well as easily understood and targeted towards the most common inquiries made by victims of mesothelioma and asbestos.
For even more information and free legal guidance to understanding your rights after illegal or negligent asbestos exposure, contact the experienced and dedicated attorneys of Shrader Law and Associates, LLP.
Though it is the second most common form of a relatively rare but high profile disease, which has received considerable media attention in recent years, peritoneal mesothelioma actually affects only a small number of Americans each year. For this reason, information about it is considerably less prevalent than information profiling the most common form of the disease-pleural mesothelioma.
Of the approximately two- to three-thousand people diagnosed in the U.S. annually with mesothelioma, those having the peritoneal form exclusively make up only between 10 and 30 percent. Yet, those who fall within this group tend to face a less favorable prognosis and more limited treatment options-factors largely attributed to the lack of research dedicated to peritoneal mesothelioma specifically.
The different types of mesothelioma are named for the parts of the body that they affect. Anatomically speaking, the peritoneal type occurs in the peritoneum-a thin layer of mesothelial tissue that covers the abdominal cavity and the vital internal organs within it, including the stomach and female reproductive system. The peritoneum serves a protective function, though it is extremely delicate in nature-making it susceptible to damage by foreign material, such as asbestos fibers.
When such irritants are swallowed or inhaled, they can become permanently lodged in the tissue of the peritoneum; after decades of slow but insidious damage occurs, scar tissue can form, as can both benign and malignant tumors. The latter produce malignant (cancerous) cells that then attack the body’s immune system and can metastasize (spread) to or even distant organs (usually via the bloodstream).
Early symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma usually present years-even decades-following asbestos exposure. Because they are often mild and/or intermittent in nature, they are often ignored by the sufferer or miscalculated by doctors-leading to frequent misdiagnoses and late diagnoses, which are not made until the cancer is in advanced stages. The symptoms to be on the lookout for include:
- Abdominal pain and/or swelling
- Digestive upsets, including nausea with or without vomiting
- A constant feeling of fullness
- Unexplained weight loss
- Bowel disturbances, such as constipation and/or diarrhea