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.

Stage 4 mesothelioma is difficult to treat because patients are usually too weak to withstand aggressive surgeries. Surgeons, while unable to remove all tumors, may remove those that are affecting breathing and causing pain. Chemotherapy and immunotherapy are also possible. Many patients receive palliative care and sometimes defy the odds, living for several years longer than doctors projected.

There is no official stage 4 for peritoneal mesothelioma, which affects the protective lining of the abdomen and composes roughly 20 percent of all mesothelioma cases. Once the tumors have spread from the lining, though, treatment becomes just as difficult as with stage 4 pleural mesothelioma.

Many develop mesothelioma through the use of products containing asbestos and through exposure to asbestos in old buildings. Workers with the condition may file for workers’ compensation benefits, which cover medical expenses as well as a percentage of lost wages. If someone’s negligence was to blame for their exposure, victims may instead file a personal injury claim. This is where having a lawyer to consult with might be beneficial. Victims may let their lawyer handle all negotiations.