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Louisville Personal Injury Blog

Stage 4 mesothelioma: symptoms, treatments

Pleural mesothelioma, caused by the inhalation of asbestos into the lungs, has four stages with stage 4 being the final and deadliest. At this stage, the malignant mesothelioma tumors have spread beyond their point of origin into the chest walls, the bones and perhaps several organs, including the liver, prostate and lining of the heart. Louisville residents should know that the median life expectancy for those with stage 4 mesothelioma is 12 months.

The symptoms of stage 4 mesothelioma include shortness of breath, pain in the chest and abdomen, chronic fatigue and difficulty swallowing. Patients may experience severe weight loss, muscle atrophy and anemia. They may also cough up blood or build up fluids in the chest and abdomen.

Possible signs of malignant mesothelioma

Feb. 4 is World Cancer day, and one of the goals is to create awareness about the signs of symptoms of this disease. Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that individuals in Kentucky or any other state could be stricken with. Understanding the warning signs of mesothelioma could make it possible to seek treatment sooner and possibly improve a patient's prognosis. In most cases, the fact that it has progressed relatively far before it is diagnosed makes it a challenge to cure.

It can also be challenging to cure malignant mesothelioma because it is resistant to chemotherapy. Individuals who have been exposed to asbestos have a higher risk of eventually contracting malignant mesothelioma, which is otherwise a rare form of cancer. Signs of this condition that a person to watch for include back pain, losing weight unexpectedly or a dry cough. Other symptoms may include difficulty swallowing or fatigue.

What to expect after a mesothelioma diagnosis

Individuals in Kentucky or elsewhere who have peritoneal mesothelioma could live for several years with the condition. An individual patient's prognosis depends on many factors include genetic mutations, the type of cancer cells and how advanced the condition is when a diagnosis is made. How the condition is treated can also play a role in how long a person can live with peritoneal mesothelioma. Those who can get surgery along with heated chemotherapy tend to live the longest.

Data indicates that more than 50 percent of patients who receive that type of treatment live for more than five years. However, about 60 percent of patients are diagnosed after they qualify to have surgery. Therefore, they must rely on systematic or direct chemotherapy, which can stop the disease from progressing for 11.5 months on average. Regardless of the type of therapy a person receives, gender can play a role in how long a person lives with peritoneal mesothelioma.

Sarcomatoid mesothelioma rare but difficult to treat

Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that forms in the thin layer of tissue that covers many organ cells. Approximately 3,000 people are diagnosed with the disease in Kentucky and across the United States each year. Most mesothelioma cases occur in the lining of the mesothelium in the lungs. The development of mesothelioma has been linked to the inhalation of asbestos fibers.

There are three main types of mesothelioma cells: biphasic, epithelioid and sarcomatoid. Of the three, sarcomatoid is the rarest and accounts for 7 to 20 percent of mesothelioma cases. The cells have an elongated appearance and may form a fibrous pattern within the tumor. The tumors typically present as lesions or nodules rather than a mass. Symptoms typically include shortness of breath, persistent cough, chronic fatigue, hoarseness and a persistent cough.

Lawsuits allege J&J knew asbestos contaminated its products

Kentucky consumers might have been exposed to asbestos when using talc products like baby powder sold by Johnson & Johnson. Multiple lawsuits have accused the consumer care products company of knowingly selling talc products contaminated with asbestos. Over a dozen new trials have been scheduled in 2019 against the company that has already been targeted by 11,700 lawsuits involving unsafe products.

The plaintiff in a trial that recently began opening arguments suffers from mesothelioma, a type of cancer associated with asbestos exposure. Internal documents from Johnson & Johnson have come to light that indicate the company knew about asbestos appearing in tests of raw and finished talc powders from the 1970s through the 2000s. This trial also names a mining company, Imerys Talc America, as a co-defendant. A lawyer for Imerys insisted that the evidence would prove that the talc was free of asbestos and did not result in the plaintiff's disease.

How women can be exposed to asbestos outside the workplace

Whereas many countries have banned asbestos outright, the mineral can still be found in many old buildings and in many products here in the U.S. Women are especially at risk for asbestos exposure through the various products that are marketed directly to them. Louisville residents should know that several companies have faced multimillion-dollar lawsuits because of this.

For example, in 2015, Colgate-Palmolive faced claims from customers who developed cancer after using asbestos-contaminated talcum powder products. More than 9,000 lawsuits are pending against Johnson & Johnson for the same problem with its talc products, particularly its baby powder. The company had been aware of this risk since the 1970s and knew that there are safe, non-lethal substitutes for talc, yet it did not act upon this knowledge.

How long does it take for asbestos exposure to cause cancer?

Different kinds of cancers have different causes. Some cancers result from a genetic proclivity in the individual who develops them. Other forms of cancer may be the result of some kind of toxic exposure. Mesothelioma is a perfect example of a cancer caused by exposure to a substance.

Mesothelioma is directly linked to prolonged exposure to asbestos particles. Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that has many applications for both consumer products and industrial use. Unfortunately, just because it's natural does not mean that it is safe. Scientist have known for roughly a century that exposure to asbestos can cause irritation of the lungs and other symptoms.

Identifying cause of toxic exposure central to recovering damages

Exposure to toxic substances in Kentucky workplaces or homes sometimes sickens victims and leaves them with serious medical problems like mesothelioma or other cancers. If you are coping with this type of problem, you could have the option of pursuing financial damages through a legal action called a toxic tort. Causation presents the primary challenge when building a case of this type because the opposing party might argue that something else caused the disease. A test that provides a definitive connection between exposure to dangerous substances and health problems does not necessarily exist.

Despite the challenges of proving liability, personal injury legal action could still empower victims to hold responsible parties accountable for sickness or injury caused by industrial solvents, asbestos, prescription medications or medical devices. Toxic exposures can result in costly and debilitating conditions, like brain damage, organ damage, nerve damage, lung disease or birth defects.

The purpose of asbestos testing

Many old homes, offices and schools in Louisville still contain asbestos, a fibrous mineral that's known to cause lung cancer. Asbestos can be in appliances, paint, floor tiles and heating and plumbing ducts. It begins to cause problems when something disturbs it; for example, during a painting or remodeling project.

Those who inhale the mineral may not develop serious health problems until several years down the line. The sooner it is eliminated, however, the better, and it all starts with asbestos testing. Accredited labs can submit a sample of an object suspected of carrying asbestos to one of three kinds of tests -- transmission electron microscopy, polarized light microscopy or phase contrast microscopy.

New information impacts cases against Johnson & Johnson

According to files that have been recently released, there is evidence that Johnson & Johnson executives knew that their brand's baby powder had asbestos in it. This may bolster the cases of Kentucky residents who have filed lawsuits against the company. It has long been established that there is a link between asbestos and mesothelioma. The information that was released gives some insight into how Johnson & Johnson has handled the problem.

For instance, there were efforts to cast doubt on research showing that the baby powder may not be safe. The company even lobbied to have the information kept a secret from the public. However, some within the company thought that the problem should be dealt with by having greater quality controls established or by discontinuing the product altogether. As there has been a lack of information made public, it has been difficult for plaintiffs to obtain favorable outcomes in their cases.

You do not have to stand alone. Call 855-385-9532 to talk to a lawyer at Satterley & Kelley PLLC in Louisville.

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