Asbestos is a known human carcinogen, capable of causing diseases up to and including cancer. However, asbestos-related conditions are different from other illnesses. People who have worked with or lived around asbestos may not experience any symptoms for decades after their first exposure.
While medical scientists continue to develop new, innovative ways to treat asbestos diseases, the advanced age of many patients—coupled with the aggressive nature of conditions like mesothelioma—make treatment both complex and expensive.
The Medical Dangers of Asbestos
Asbestos was long renowned as a “miracle mineral,” sought for its natural strength, resilience, and heat-resistant properties. People have mined and worked with asbestos for thousands of years, using the mineral to produce fireproof sheets and linens. However, demand for asbestos skyrocketed after the Industrial Revolution, as soaring birth rates and rapid urbanization drove demand for durable but inexpensive building materials.
Unfortunately, asbestos’s strength is what makes it dangerous.
Asbestos is dangerous only when it is inhaled. If asbestos is left undisturbed—underground, or trapped behind walls—it does not pose any significant hazard to human health. But when asbestos is mined or melded into other products, it can easily crumble. When asbestos is readily combustible, it is called “friable.” Friable asbestos, if touched or dispersed, can disintegrate into tiny, near-undetectable particles.
If friable asbestos goes airborne, it could be inhaled. Over time, asbestos can accumulate inside the lungs, infiltrating the respiratory system and damaging other parts of the body.
Malignant and Non-Malignant Illnesses and Symptoms
Certain asbestos-related disorders cause more specific symptoms. These symptoms are often dependent on whether the disease is
No malignoA non-malignant disease, condition, or illness is non-cancerous. Pleural plaques, for instance, can cause significant respiratory distress but they are not always cancerous. Even tumors can be non-malignant if they do not grow uncontrollably.
MalignoA disease is malignant when it is characterized by abnormal and uncontrollable cellular growth. Over time, these rapidly multiplying cells can form tumors. If a malignant tumor forms, cancer cells can break away from the original tumor. Over time, they can spread to other parts of the body, invading, damaging, and destroying otherwise healthy tissue and organs. Mesothelioma is an example of a serious, malignant medical condition.
Non-malignant asbestos illnesses include:
- Asbestosis, a chronic lung disease caused by breathing in asbestos fibers.
- Placas pleurales, which are fiber deposits that form in the linings of the ribcage and diaphragm. While pleural plaques do not always cause noticeable respiratory problems, some patients have a “grating” feeling when they breathe.
- Pleural effusions, or “water in the lungs.” This common condition can cause chest pain and difficulty breathing. In some rare cases, patients may have up to 4 liters of excess fluid around their chest and lungs
- Enfermedad Pulmonar Obstructiva Crónica (EPOC), a condition involving constriction of the airways and difficulty or discomfort breathing.
Malignant asbestos illnesses include:
- Mesotelioma, a cancer of the mesothelium, a thin layer of tissue surrounding many of the body’s major organs. Mesothelioma can affect different parts of the body, including the lungs, heart, and abdomen.
- Cáncer de pulmón.
- Cáncer de estómago.
- Cáncer de colón.
- Cáncer de faringe, affecting the part of the throat behind the nose and mouth.
- Cáncer de laringe, a cancer of the larynx (sometimes call the “voice-box”).
- Cáncer de ovarios, affecting the ovaries and other aspects of women’s reproductive systems.
Asbestos Conditions Often Overlap With Other Illnesses
While we provide a comprehensive list of non-malignant and malignant asbestos illness treatments below, people with a history of asbestos exposure should be aware that:
- Enfermedades relacionadas con el asbesto have a wide range of symptoms, many of which may mimic the symptoms of other, less serious conditions.
- Asbestos exposure does not cause but can worsen seemingly unrelated health problems, including sleep apnea.
- People who have a history of asbestos exposure may be at a higher risk for diseases and cancers that are not typically caused by asbestos. Individuals who have a history of both asbestos exposure and tobacco use, for instance, are significantly more likely to develop lung cancer than those who have a history of only asbestos exposure or a history of only tobacco use.
If you have a history of asbestos exposure and are experiencing any general or specific asbestos-related symptoms, you should schedule a doctor’s appointment.
Typical Treatments for Malignant Asbestos-Related Diseases
Asbestos-related illnesses have long latency periods, meaning they may not present any symptoms for decades. Consequently, many asbestos diseases are diagnosed late in life. The median age for a mesothelioma diagnosis, for instance, is 72.
When a physician identifies malignant mesothelioma or another, potentially life-threatening disease, their treatment options are often limited by the patient’s age and the presence of other medical conditions.
If you, or a loved one, have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos cancer, your doctor could order treatments such as:
- Surgery. Your physician might elect to remove a single tumor or surgically reduce the surrounding tissue and organs. The extent and nature of a surgical intervention is typically dependent on the location of a tumor and whether the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. A surgeon could, for instance, treat mesothelioma by removing an entire lung. However, they could also spare the lung and target individual cancerous growths.
- Chemotherapy. Mesothelioma treatments often combine conventional chemotherapy with medication such as pemetrexed and cisplatin.
- Radiation. Radiotherapy attacks cancerous growths with X-ray beams. Over time, these beams could degrade or even destroy a tumor.
- Tumor treating fields. A tumor treating field uses alternating electrical currents to disrupt the spread and growth of cancer cells. When used in combination with medication, T.T.F.s can reduce cancerous cell counts.
Since treating mesothelioma is difficult, medical researchers are constantly trying and testing new treatments. Several of these experimental regimens have proven successful:
- Experimental Medications. Clinical trials have shown that a combination of two drugs—Opdivo and Yervoy—could decrease tumor growth by enhancing T-cell function. While some research suggests that these experimental medications may improve mesothelioma outcomes, they are still awaiting approval by the federal Food and Drug Administration.
- Gene Therapy. Gene therapy works by introducing aggressive anti-cancer cells. Mesothelioma patients can receive gene therapy treatment by participating in clinical trials.
- Virotherapy. Viruses and pathogens can attack cancer cells the same way they attack people. If your physician believes you could be an ideal candidate for virotherapy, you will receive an injection of a specially modified, cancer-killing virus. This virus could supplement the immune system’s natural response by attacking and killing cancerous cells. While virotherapy has been correlated to positive patient outcomes, it is rarely, if ever, employed as a standalone treatment.
Treatments for Specific Non-Malignant Asbestos-Related Diseases
- Immunotherapy, which teaches the body’s natural immune system to selectively target, attack, and destroy cancer cells
- Experimental medications – Clinical trials have shown that a combination of two drugs—Opdivo and Yervoy—could decrease tumor growth by enhancing T-cell function. This combination of drugs was the first new mesothelioma treatment approved by the F.D.A. in 16 years
Cáncer de pulmón
- Targeted therapy, or the use of drugs to block the growth and spread of cancer cells. These medications may be administered orally or intravenously
- Experimental medications and voluntary clinical trials
- Complementary medicine, including acupuncture, massage therapy, and hypnosis. While these treatments cannot cure or eliminate cancer, they can be comforting to patients and potentially relieve pain
- Alternative medicines, including special diets and herbal preparations. There is little to no evidence to support the utility of most alternative medicines as a viable treatment for lung cancer
- Targeted therapy
- Surgery, including targeted surgeries that may necessitate the removal of all or part of the larynx
- Targeted therapy, which including infusions of cancer-fighting monoclonal antibodies
- Surgery, which could entail the removal of early stage tumors from the stomach lining; the removal of part of the stomach; the removal of the entire stomach; the removal of lymph nodes; and general surgery to relieve the signs, symptoms, and pressure associated with advanced and potentially untreatable stomach cancer.
- Targeted therapy
- Palliative care, which is not necessarily a treatment for cancer but is instead focused on relieving pain. Palliative care is focused on the reduction of discomfort rather than the eradication of cancerous tumors.
- Minimally invasive surgery to remove small or localized polyps.
- Surgery, which could entail a partial or total colectomy or the removal of an affected lymph node(s).
- Targeted therapy
- Palliative care
- Targeted therapy
- Hormone therapy, which may use medications like Zoladex and Lupron to effectively “switch off” estrogen production in the ovaries, or Tamoxifen, which could prevent circulating estrogens from producing cancerous cells.
Treatments for Specific Non-Malignant Asbestos-Related Diseases
- Inhalers¸ with commonly prescribed brands including Maxair, Ventolin, Serevent, Proventil, and Accu-Hale.
- Medications to thin secretions and open up airways.
- Dietary changes and general hydration
- Supplemental oxygen, which may be transferred from an oxygen tank directly to the nostrils.
- Antibiotics, which can treat or reduce the risk of inflammation-related infection.
- Pian medications, Tylenol and Advil, could reduce asbestos-related breathing pain and reduce general inflammation.
- Lung transplant, typically performed only if the asbestosis is particularly severe or accompanied by a malignant asbestos-related disease such as pleural mesothelioma or lung cancer.
- Surgical procedures, which seek to provide pain relief and ease symptoms.
- Lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking.
- Bronchodilators, or inhalers, which relax the muscles around the airway and can make it easier to breathe. Common short-acting bronchodilators used to treat COPD include Albuterol, Ipratropium, and Levalbuterol.
- Inhaled corticosteroid steroids, which can reduce airway inflammation.
- Oxygen therapy, which uses supplemental, portable oxygen units to bolster blood-oxygen levels. Oxygen therapy is the only COPD-specific treatment proven to lengthen patients’ lives.
- Surgery, which might seek to reduce lung volume, or destroy damaging “air spaces” in the lungs.
- No treatment, as pleural plaques are noncancerous and do not usually lead to any loss in lung function.
- Lifestyle changes. Your physician might recommend that you quit smoking or avoid polluted environments.
- Additional screening. If your pleural plaques are related to asbestos exposure, your health care provider might order additional diagnostic tests to determine whether you are at-risk for any other asbestos-related diseases.
- The treatment of pleural effusions is typically symptom- and condition-based, with more aggressive care ordered if the effusion is causing significant discomfort or accompanied by malignant disease.
- Pleural effusions can sometimes be drained using therapeutic thoracentesis or a chest tube.
- Physicians might use sclerosing agents—drugs which intentionally induce scarring—to prevent the recurrence of pleural effusions that are caused by cancer.
Affording Effective Asbestos Injury Treatments
Asbestos-related illnesses have a devastating impact: they destroy lives, eradicate opportunity, and place an immense burden both on individual patients and entire families.
Unfortunately, combating a serious asbestos disease can be burdensome, even to people who have high-quality health insurance.
People who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, for instance, could face massive deductibles and steep co-pays. Some studies estimate that mesothelioma treatments could cost patients up to $12,000 per month. However, individual expenses cannot always be anticipated. Mesothelioma can cause significant and potentially life-threatening health complications. The average cost of a mesothelioma-related hospitalization is $25,000. Many mesothelioma patients have to be hospitalized more than once.
If you, or a loved one, have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you may feel like you have few options. You might decline high-quality care to spare your family’s finances.
However, the Law Offices of Justinian C. Lane do not believe that anyone should have to bear the financial burden of the asbestos industry’s negligence. We could help you get the compensation you need, and the justice you deserve.
What The Asbestos Injury Knew About the Dangers of Asbestos
For decades, asbestos miners and manufacturers told their workers and the general public that asbestos products were safe—safe to work with, safe to live with, and safe to bring home to their loved ones.
Despite the industry’s reassurances, asbestos companies had their own concerns. After the Second World War, they commissioned wide-scale studies to evaluate asbestos’s safety.
By the early 1950s, every big asbestos company in the country knew that asbestos was associated with a litany of serious illnesses and potentially deadly diseases.
But the asbestos industry never released its findings. Instead, they kept the results secret. When consumer advocates and public health officials asked questions, asbestos manufacturers stayed silent, hoping they could continue posting record-making profits even as people began dying.
Laws Have Changed, But the Hazards of Asbestos Is Still With Us
We know today that the dangers of asbestos outweigh its supposedly miraculous properties. Since the 1970s, the United States government has taken increasingly aggressive action against the asbestos industry. The federal Environmental Protection Agency, for instance, bans the manufacture, sale, and import of most asbestos products.
The courts have also gradually empowered the victims of the asbestos industry, allowing them to pursue compensation for their injuries and losses.
If you, or a loved one, have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related illness, you could receive recompense for your losses through:
- An insurance settlement
- An asbestos damages trust fund
- A personal injury lawsuit
While no amount of money can alleviate the immense suffering caused by a cancer diagnosis or serious respiratory disorder, compensation could help improve a mesothelioma patient’s quality of life, ensuring they receive competent medical care without risking their family’s finances.
You could receive damages for expenses including but not limited to:
- Past, present, and anticipated medical expenses
- Physical rehabilitation
- Prescription medication
- Traditional and emerging mesothelioma treatments
- Emotional pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment
- Loss of companionship
- Muerte por negligencia
We have spent years litigating asbestos claims. While every case is different, mesothelioma victims and their loved ones routinely receive generous settlements. This is because federal and state courts have found, time and time again, that asbestos companies were grossly negligent. They knew that asbestos was dangerous—but did nothing to protect the public.
When The Law Offices of Justinian C. Lane, Esq. – PLLC negotiates a claim or takes an asbestos company to trial, we advocate for the compensation our clients need. Our attorneys frequently secure seven-figure settlements for asbestos victims.
Have You Been Hurt By An Asbestos Illness?
The Law Offices of Justinian C. Lane, Esq.-PLLC has a deep-seated commitment to assisting the victims of the asbestos industry.
Unlike many other law firms, we understand exactly what it is like to lose a loved one to mesothelioma. Our founder, Justinian C. Lane, lost his father and his grandparents to asbestos-related cancers. When they passed away, nobody in Justinian’s family knew they could have claimed compensation to help pay their remaining medical bills and funeral costs.
The Many Costs of Asbestos Illnesses Like Mesothelioma
We have seen first-hand the toll mesothelioma takes on individuals and families–which is why we are dedicated to helping others not only get the compensation they need but the justice they deserve.
All We Do Is Help Victims of Asbestos Get Compensation, Usually Without A Lawsuit
The Law Offices of Justinian C. Lane does not believe in charging potential clients who may be deep in grief. We offer free consultations: in person, over the phone, video call, and even email. And when we accept a new case, we do not ask our clients to pay for our services. We work on a contingency basis, which means that we cover the costs associated with litigation.
We only get paid if we win, and we only take our payment as a percentage of the settlement.
Our attorneys have recovered millions of dollars for people injured and killed by asbestos exposure. We could help you, too. While every asbestos case is different, we are driven by a sense of justice and aim to deliver justice for clients, whatever that might mean to them.
Contact Us Today
Please contact us online or call us at 833-4-ASBESTOS (427-2378) to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation as soon as possible.