Every year in the U.S., there are approximately 3,000 new cases of mesothelioma. This disease, which usually arises from prolonged exposure to asbestos, equally affects men and women regardless of age or profession. However, Louisville residents should know that it may take years or even decades before they are ever diagnosed with it.

Mesothelioma symptoms take about 10 to 50 years to appear. They include persistent coughing, chronic fatigue, fever and weight loss in the early stages. Symptoms in the advanced stages will differ based on the type of mesothelioma. Pleural mesothelioma, which affects the lining of the lungs, will cause patients to have difficulty swallowing, facial swelling and pain in the chest or lower back.

Pericardial mesothelioma, a much rarer form that affects the membrane of the heart, will cause irregular heart rhythm, chest pain and shortness of breath. Peritoneal mesothelioma, which affects the lining of the abdomen, can lead to stomach pain, vomiting and constipation.

Asbestos exposure is not the sole risk factor in developing mesothelioma. Zeolites, a mineral similar to asbestos, have been linked to the disease. Mutations of the BAP1 gene, exposure to the SV40 virus and exposure to radiation have also been connected to it. As for why symptoms arise so late, experts have not found a definite answer.

In most cases, those with mesothelioma were exposed to asbestos either on the job or through the use of products containing asbestos. Whatever the case may be, victims may be able to seek compensation for their medical expenses, pain and suffering and other losses. They might file a claim against their employer or against the maker of that product, but it may be a good idea for them to consider legal assistance. A lawyer might hire investigators to strengthen the case.