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Is mesothelioma always caused by asbestos exposure?

View profile for Pauline Smith
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Global asbestos awareness week 1-7 April 2017

Mesothelioma is a cancer that develops in the lining that covers the outer surfaces of the body’s organs.

Which organs are affected by mesothelioma?

Usually, this disease affects the lining of the lungs, but can also affect the lining of the stomach, heart or even the testicles.

What are the symptoms of lung related (pleural) mesothelioma?

Typically, symptoms include chest pain, persistent coughing, breathlessness, tiredness and loss of energy, high temperatures and commonly, night time sweats. Other symptoms include lack of appetite, unexplained weight loss and swollen fingertips which is known as “clubbing”.

Is there a cure for mesothelioma?

Sadly, there is no cure for this disease, and people may have had the above symptoms which have come on gradually over a number of years. Typically, by the time a diagnosis is made, the sufferer’s life expectancy is usually between 12 to 18 months, although appropriate treatment can extend this period, and in rare cases, some people have been known to live to up to a decade after treatment, although this is not typical of the pattern of the disease.

What is asbestos?

Asbestos is a fibrous material once commonly used in buildings to provide insulation in lofts, attics and walls. It was frequently used in the building trade for flooring and roofing. The material does not cause any harm if left undisturbed, but if the material is damaged in any way, then it releases fine dust containing tiny asbestos fibres into the air. If these fibres are inhaled, they settle in the lungs and may damage them over time.

Thankfully, the use of asbestos was fully banned in the UK in 1999, and has not been used since, however there are still many old buildings which contain this material, and anyone working in an environment containing asbestos, must be provided with full protection, to prevent any inhalation of the dangerous fibres. Typically, specialist firms, who have the correct protective equipment, are used to remove this material, if discovered.

Is mesothelioma always caused by exposure to asbestos?

In almost all cases of mesothelioma, this is caused by exposure to asbestos, as a result of past working conditions, or exposure to asbestos in premises. However, sufferers can, rarely, develop mesothelioma without any obvious past exposure to asbestos. This is known as spontaneous or idiopathic mesothelioma, but there is a general school of thought that the individuals themselves may have actually been exposed to asbestos at some point during their lives without actually knowing it. Typically, a person who has been exposed to asbestos will normally take around two decades to develop obvious symptoms.

If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma and need help and support, then you may be entitled to a benefit payment from the Government. There are also dedicated support groups who can provide information and help for the victims of this disease. The most commonly known support group is Mesothelioma UK.

If you have been diagnosed with this condition and wish to know more about making a claim then please contact Stephensons on 0161 696 6235. Our mesothelioma specialists will be happy to assist you and provide advice.