What Is Mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is an aggressive form of cancer that affects the mesothelium, a membrane that lines several cavities within the body, including the lungs. In nearly all cases, it is caused by inhaled asbestos fibers getting lodged in these membranes.

It primarily affects workers and retired workers because asbestos was most frequently used in manufacturing and construction. Although asbestos is seldom used in materials anymore, thousands are still diagnosed with mesothelioma every year and millions more are at risk for developing the disease. This is because mesothelioma typically does not develop until 20 to 40 years after exposure to asbestos.

For individuals diagnosed with mesothelioma, it is important to obtain skilled legal advice as soon as possible. The attorneys at Martin & Jones have been dedicated to pursuing compensation for asbestos exposure victims and their families for more than two decades. We have the knowledge and resources to help you file your claim quickly so you can maximize your recovery.

Types Of Mesothelioma And Symptoms

The most common locations of mesothelioma in the body are pleural and peritoneal.

Pleural mesothelioma, the most common type comprising 75 percent of all cases, affects the "pleura", which is a membrane that lines the lung and the chest wall outside the lung.  Peritoneal mesothelioma affects the mesothelium lining the abdomen.

Individuals with pleural mesothelioma may first notice shortness of breath and some chest pain, although in the early stages there may be no symptoms at all. Symptoms will get progressively worse, including coughing, fever, fatigue, weight loss, profuse sweating and difficulty swallowing.

Individuals with peritoneal mesothelioma may first notice abdominal pain, bloating and swelling accompanied by diarrhea and/or constipation. Symptoms will progress to include fatigue, weight loss, nausea, night sweats and anemia.

Mesothelioma Diagnosis

Individuals who believe they have been exposed to asbestos should advise their doctors when discussing their symptoms. Typically doctors will initially diagnose mesothelioma using imaging equipment. An x-ray is the first type of imaging that may be used. X-rays are not as detailed as CT scans or MRIs, so they may miss mesotheliomas at their beginning stages. They are most likely to detect buildup of fluid in the pleural cavity surrounding the lungs, known as a pleural effusion.

Doctors may order a subsequent CT scan, which can look at layers of tissue. Biopsies of tissue are often required to confirm a diagnosis of mesothelioma.

Once mesothelioma has been diagnosed, doctors may use MRIs or PET-CT scans to detect the progression of the disease and response to chemotherapy.

The American Lung Association has a mesothelioma fact sheet which provides helpful information on diagnosis.

Mesothelioma Treatment Centers

There are several medical centers in North Carolina and Georgia that have experience in treating mesothelioma. These include:

Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center - 2424 Erwin Road, Hock Plaza, Suite 601, Durham, NC 27705 (888) 275-3853

Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center - 450 West Drive, Chapel Hill, NC 27599 (919) 966-4431

UNC Comprehensive Cancer Center at Wake Forest University - Medical Center Blvd., Winston-Salem, NC 27157 (336) 716-2008

Emory Winship Cancer Institute - 1365C Clifton Road, Atlanta, Georgia, 30322 (888) WINSHIP

The National Cancer Institute also provides a listing of all the NCI-designated comprehensive cancer centers across the country.

Have You Been Exposed To Asbestos?

One of the challenges for many workers is that they may not be aware that they were exposed to asbestos. Asbestos was used in a variety of materials that workers used everyday, including insulation. If you are unsure whether you have been exposed to asbestos, talking to an experienced asbestos lawyer may help.

Lawyers at Martin & Jones have records of asbestos exposure sites including, but not limited to:

  • Power plants — Carolina Power and Light, Duke Power, Georgia Power and others
  • Paper mills — Weyerhaeuser, International Paper, and Champion and Federal Paper
  • Industrial plants — Babcock & Wilcox and Dupont
  • Shipyards — Norfolk and Newport News shipyards

Nearly everyone working at these plants is at risk for developing mesothelioma, especially insulators, boilermakers, pipefitters, mechanics, carpenters, electricians and plumbers.

If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with an asbestos disease regardless of the city or state where you live, we can help. The attorneys at Martin & Jones have represented families in asbestos disease claims in many states, including North Carolina (NC), South Carolina (SC), Georgia (GA), Florida (FL), Texas (TX), Ohio (OH), Alabama (AL), Virginia (VA), Illinois (IL), California(CA), Pennsylvania (PA) and Minnesota (MN). You can talk to an attorney for free if you have any questions about an asbestos claim.