Pleural mesothelioma is a type of cancer that infects the mesothelium that surrounds the lungs. Pleural mesothelioma is the most common type of mesothelioma diagnosis, accounting for up to 90% of all mesothelioma diagnoses.
The mesothelium is a thin layer of epithelial tissues that lines certain body areas such as the abdomen, chest, heart, or testes. Pleural mesothelium lines the pleural cavity and lies on top of the lung tissue itself. When the mesothelium is damaged, the cells can become damaged, and the DNA can begin to change. In addition, when the DNA suffers specific damage, the epithelial cells may change and begin to multiply uncontrollably. This forms a mesothelial tumor, the key marker for cancer.
Pleural mesothelioma is one of several types of mesothelioma. Other varieties include peritoneal mesothelioma and pericardial mesothelioma. Pleural mesothelioma is a highly aggressive cancer with a high likelihood of metastasizing. When a tumor metastasizes, it spreads from one part of the body to another. Metastatic cancers are much more deadly than cancers that are contained within a single organ.
Pleural mesothelioma has a very long latency period. A latency period is a segment of time before symptoms of a disease become apparent. This long latency period, combined with the aggressive nature of pleural mesothelioma, leads to a high likelihood of metastisization by the time pleural mesothelioma is discovered.
Pleural mesothelioma is caused by the inhalation of asbestos fibers. Asbestos is a carcinogenic, silicon-based mineral that has historically been utilized for its heat-resistant and anti-corrosive properties.
When asbestos-containing materials are damaged, tiny particles of asbestos flake off and are launched into the air. These fragments can be microscopic and remain in the air for extended periods of time. When these particles are inhaled, they can settle in the lungs.
Asbestos particles in the lungs cause irritation and damage over time. This damage can cause a number of asbestos pleural diseases, including effusions, plaques, forms of fibrosis, and asbestosis. Additionally, asbestos fibers embedded into the lungs can damage the DNA of cells and lead to pleural mesothelioma. Other factors contributing to the development of pleural mesothelioma include exposure to similar minerals such as erionite or radiation.
Once asbestos has been embedded in the lungs, the process of developing pleural mesothelioma can begin. Pleural mesothelioma can present symptoms in as few as 10 years or as many as 50 years after asbestos exposure. Some of the symptoms of pleural mesothelioma include:
In addition to symptoms, some lung conditions can indicate the potential presence of mesothelioma. Some of these conditions include asbestosis, effusions, plaques, and thickening.
Asbestosis is a chronic lung disease that is directly caused by inhaling asbestos particles. Asbestosis is a variety of pulmonary fibrosis in which asbestos causes scar tissue to develop in the lungs. The most common consequence of asbestosis is difficulty breathing and an increased risk of developing mesothelioma.
A pleural effusion is an accumulation of an abnormal amount of fluid in the mesothelial layers of the lung. Pleural effusions compress the lungs and can make breathing difficult.
Pleural plaques are thickened tissue regions formed from irritation by asbestos fibers. Pleural plaques are often asymptomatic, but their presence strongly implies the presence of asbestos, and they do contribute to the risk of developing pleural mesothelioma.
Finally, pleural thickening is a condition in which thick scar tissue occurs across the pleura. This thickening can be benign, or it can increase in size to the point of malignancy.
If you have been exposed to any form of asbestos and have developed any cancers, including pleural mesothelioma or asbestosis, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit to recover the costs of medical expenses, pain, suffering, or lost wages. In order to file and prevail in your personal injury lawsuit, you will need the help of an experienced Personal Injury Attorney.
With their legal expertise, trial tactics, and expert witnesses, your Personal Injury attorney will be able to zealously advocate for you in order to achieve the best possible outcome for your case. Additionally, since Personal Injury attorneys work on contingency, if you don’t win, you don’t pay.