Asbestos and mesotelioma are practically synonymous, and for good reason: experts estimate that asbestos exposure is responsible for at least 80% of cases. Since there is no safe level of asbestos exposure, people who had even brief encounters with the substance may still develop related respiratory disorders. However, these conditions can stay silent for decades.1 Many people who were exposed to asbestos in the past may forget they once worked with the mineral, or lived in a house with asbestos-contaminated paint, walls, or piping. 

However, people sometimes do develop mesothelioma without asbestos exposure. 

Mesotelioma

El mesotelioma es un cáncer agresivo. Toma su nombre del mesotelio, a thin layer of tissue that covers most of the human body’s internal organs. Since there are mesothelial layers throughout the body, this cancer can strike almost anywhere. However, mesothelioma usually affects the pleural tissue surrounding the lungs. In some rare cases, it can also start in or spread to the heart, abdomen, or testicles. 

When doctors suspect that a patient could have mesothelioma, they diagnose it based on its location. For example: 

  • El mesotelioma pleural, o mesotelioma pleural maligno, afecta el tejido que rodea los pulmones y causa signos y síntomas respiratorios, como dolor en el pecho, dificultad para respirar y pérdida de peso inexplicable.2
  • El mesotelioma peritoneal, que afecta el tejido abdominal, puede causar síntomas como dolor abdominal, hinchazón y náuseas. 
  • El mesotelioma pericárdico, que afecta el corazón, puede complicar la respiración y causar dolor en el pecho. 

Las Causas del Mesotelioma 

El mesotelioma es un cáncer. 

Cancers are a category of genetic diseases, in the sense that cancer is caused by certain, adverse changes to a cell’s genetic structure, or DNA.3 These changes are called mutations. Sometimes, mutations will instruct a cell to begin multiplying. When the cells multiply out of control, they can accumulate and form a tumor.

Risk Factors For Mesothelioma

Scientists are still trying to understand cancer. While the development of tumors is still being studied, cancers probably form through some combination of inherited physiological traits, environmental exposure, age, and lifestyle choices. A trait, experience, or condition that could contribute to the formation of a cancer tumor is called a “risk factor.” 

We already know that cigarette smokers, for instance, are more likely to develop lung cancer than people who do not smoke cigarettes. We could therefore consider tobacco use a risk factor for lung cancer. 

El mesotelioma también tiene factores de riesgo. Incluyen 

  • Exposición al asbesto. Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral. Since asbestos is highly durable, inexpensive to produce, and heat resistant, it has been used in manufacturing and construction for centuries. However, asbestos products can release microscopic airborne fibers. If a person inhales these mineral fibers, they can get “trapped” inside the lungs, causing inflammation, respiratory problems, and different cancers, including mesothelioma. People who have a history of long-term exposure to asbestos, especialmente en el lugar de trabajo, are at the highest risk of developing mesothelioma; they account for an estimated 70-80% of all diagnosed cases.4
  • Exposición a la erionita. Erionite is another naturally occurring mineral. While erionite is no longer mined or used for commercial purposes, it can sometimes contaminate otherwise safe deposits of rock and gravel. When these erionite deposits are crushed, tilled, or otherwise dispersed, they can infiltrate the lungs and their mesothelia. The National Cancer Institute has found that road construction workers are at the highest risk for erionite exposure.5

El mesotelioma también puede tener otras causas menos comunes: 

  • Genética. Mesothelioma can sometimes “run in the family.” Scientists have found that so-called germline mutations in the gene encoding the BAP1 protein, passed from parents to their children, can increase an individual’s lifetime risk for mesothelioma.6 However, genetic mutations rarely cause mesothelioma without any external influence. People who may be genetically predisposed to the disease will still need to be exposed to asbestos, erionite, or other hazardous substance. 
  • Otros factores. Si bien el mesotelioma generalmente es causado por la exposición al asbesto o la erionita, los científicos no siempre pueden identificar la fuente del mesotelioma. Se han propuesto vínculos con otras afecciones médicas, como el virus de los simios, pero no se han verificado. 

Scientists Don’t Always Know How or Why Mesothelioma Develops

A recent publication in the Cureus Journal of Medical Science, a peer-reviewed medical journal, details the case of a 47-year-old man who was admitted to a hospital with chest pain and shortness of breath. 

While the patient had a history of tobacco use and alcohol abuse, he did not have any known asbestos exposures. But when doctors performed a C.T. scan on the man’s chest, they discovered a “significant” pleural effusion, or an abnormal collection of fluid between layers of lung tissue. 

After investigating the pleural mass, the doctors were able to deliver a diagnosis of epithelioid mesothelioma, a cancer which can affect the lining of the lungs. 

The 47-year-old’s doctors were unable to explain how their patient had epithelioid mesothelioma, which is almost always caused by prior asbestos exposure. Although he could have been exposed to asbestos unknowingly, the average onset time for this cancer is nearly 50 years. 

In other words, scientists’ current understanding of mesothelioma cannot explain how this man ended up showing symptoms of a cancer subtype that is almost always caused by asbestos exposure.

However, Asbestos Could Still Be Responsible for ‘Inexplicable’ Mesothelioma

El Cureus researchers were confounded by their patient’s case partially because the patient – at 47 years old – was too young to have malignant epithelioid mesothelioma! 

Mesothelioma is, in fact, often thought of as a “disease of old age” because the average age of diagnosis is 65. Although people under the age of 65, and even under the age of 50, can have mesothelioma, they almost always have had verifiable childhood asbestos exposures.

However, mesothelioma’s tendency to present in old age does not mean that this cancer specifically targets older adults – asbestos fibers simply take a very, very long time to begin causing noticeable physical problems.

Asbestos, after all, used to be everywhere – it was even celebrated as a “miracle mineral,” used to manufacture everything from floor tiles and roof shingles to plumbing and automotive parts.

Common asbestos-containing products include: 

  • Azulejos de piso y techo 
  • Automotive parts, including brake pads 
  • Fiber insulation
  • Loose fill home insulation
  • Fire safety appliances and heat resistant clothing 
  • Pipe insulation 

Many people, especially older adults, may have been exposed to asbestos-contaminated products without their knowledge. 

Who May Be At Risk for “Silent” Asbestos Exposure

Since asbestos can take decades to develop into a recognizable condition, like mesothelioma, anyone who has an asbestos-related cancer that cannot be explained by other means should consult an asbestos attorney to track their potential past exposures to the so-called “miracle mineral.”

Most seemingly inexplicable mesothelioma diagnoses can be explained by occupational asbestos exposure, or workplace asbestos exposure. 

People who worked in the following industries before 1989 could have been inadvertently exposed to asbestos: 

  • Construcción 
  • Fabricación 
  • Power supply 
  • Shipbuilding, including military contractors and personnel 
  • Firefighting 
  • Nuclear power, including military contractors and personnel 

However, the risk of asbestos exposure is not limited to people who worked directly with the mineral. 

Exposición Secundaria al Asbesto 

People who were never directly exposed to asbestos could still develop chronic asbestos-related illnesses, including mesothelioma, if they lived or spent significant time around someone who worked with the flame-resistant mineral. 

Since asbestos can fragment into powder or fibers, people who regularly spent time around the mineral could sometimes track it back home. This is because asbestos fibers can cling to clothing, hair, and skin

Asbestos fibers could also contaminate a variety of physical objects. If a construction worker came home covered in asbestos fibers, it could powder their car seat, accumulate outside their shower, or infect furniture. 

Similarly, a spouse or child tasked with washing a worker’s clothes could be exposed to dangerous levels of asbestos on a near-daily basis.

When an occupationally at-risk worker brings asbestos home, their family members and friends could inhale enough asbestos fibers to develop health conditions of their own.

However, many people who suffered secondhand asbestos exposure never realize they were around asbestos until it is too late.

The Warning Signs of Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma can be difficult to diagnose and treat. This is because the disease’s earliest signs can resemble other, more common respiratory illnesses, including pneumonia and the common flu.

Pleural Mesothelioma

El symptoms of pleural mesothelioma, or mesothelioma of the lungs, include: 

  • Dolor en el pecho
  • Dificultad para respirar
  • Tos seca
  • Fatiga 
  • Hoarseness 
  • Dificultad para tragar
  • Chest expansion
  • Sudden, drastic weight loss 
  • Fiebre
  • Muscle weakness or soreness 
  • Swollen face
  • Swollen arms 

Peritoneal Mesothelioma

The symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma, or mesothelioma of the abdomen and pelvis, include: 

  • Dolor abdominal
  • Hinchazón abdominal
  • Unusual accumulations of fluid in or around the abdomen
  • Náusea 
  • Chronic vomiting 
  • Constipation
  • Pérdida de apetito 
  • Pérdida de peso inexplicable 

Pericardial Mesothelioma 

The symptoms of pericardial mesothelioma, or mesothelioma of the heart, include: 

  • Respiración dificultosa 
  • Dolor en el pecho
  • Dificultad para respirar
  • Heart palpitations
  • Arritmia 
  • Heart murmurs 

Anyone who has a history of asbestos exposure, or believes they could have been exposed to asbestos, should consult a physician if they begin experiencing any mesothelioma symptoms. 

The Costs of a Mesothelioma Diagnosis

Mesothelioma takes a harsh physical and financial toll regardless of whether it was diagnosed with or without a history of asbestos exposure. By some informed estimates, the average cost of mesothelioma treatment is between $11,000 and $12,000 per month.7

Even if someone has high-quality private health care, they may still be responsible for out-of-pocket expenses, including co-pays and deductibles, for common treatments like: 

  • Quimioterapia, which can cost up to $40,000 for a first-time course. 
  • Cirugía, which can cost more than $26,000 per procedure. 
  • Radioterapia, which can cost more than $9,000. 

El Journal of Rare Tumors suggests that the median “per episode costs for mesothelioma for the inpatient setting” are $25,566. Phrased differently, this means that, every time a mesothelioma patient must be hospitalized as part of a routine treatment, they and their health insurance are liable to be billed tens of thousands of dollars.8

Mesothelioma patients could face other losses. Aside from medical bills, they might have to: 

  • Pay for expensive prescription drugs, including painkillers and chemotherapy components pills
  • Attend physical therapy sessions, which are often mandatory for patients diagnosed with certain cancers, including malignant mesothelioma9
  • Take time away from work, costing them the same money they need to use to fund their treatment and keep a roof over their head

How a Mesothelioma Lawyer Could Help You Understand Your Diagnosis 

The emotional, physical, and financial costs of a mesothelioma diagnosis could seem overwhelming. 

However, people with mesothelioma often have options for recompense. Even if you do not understand how you, or a loved one, could have mesothelioma, you may still be entitled to una compensación significativa if another person, organization, or company’s negligence led to or contributed to your mesothelioma diagnosis.

An asbestos lawyer or mesothelioma attorney could help you review your work and medical history to see if you may have been exposed to asbestos without your knowledge. 

AsbestosClaims.Law, for example, maintains a comprehensive database of companies, worksites, and buildings that used asbestos-based materials—making it easier for you to understand and document how and where you could have been exposed to asbestos, erionite, or other dangerous substances.

If you, or a loved one, were exposed to asbestos at work, school, or in the military, you could: 

  • File a personal injury lawsuit. Mesothelioma victims can file a lawsuit to get compensation for their medical expenses, lost income, emotional pain and suffering, and disability. If you take your case to court, a judge may be able to award punitive damages, a form of financial punishment for the individual or entity that exposed you, or a loved one, to asbestos or another toxic chemical. 
  • File a wrongful death lawsuit. If you lost a loved one to mesothelioma or another asbestos-related illness, you could file a wrongful death lawsuit to recover costs related to unpaid medical bills, funeral costs, burial fees, loss of companionship, and emotional pain and suffering. You could also be awarded daño punitivo.
  • Fideicomisos de asbesto. When the truth came out about how dangerous asbestos is, everyone realized that millions of industrial workers, and their families, could develop illnesses like mesothelioma and that it may be many years before they know it. So courts ordered that the insurance money and other assets of the asbestos companies be set aside to help them.

There are still over $30 Billion in Asbestos Trusts. The money can only be used to compensate those injured by asbestos exposure. Mesothelioma is recognized as one of the most aggressive and painful asbestos-related illnesses, and most Asbestos Trusts pay significant compensation for a mesothelioma diagnosis.

Depending on the nature of your claim, you could apply for compensation through a dedicated asbestos trust – special funds that negligent companies have created to compensate their victims.

While most states do not cap the damages you could receive in a mesothelioma lawsuit, it is imperative that you act fast: most states have statutes of limitations, which restrict how long you can wait to take legal action after a mesothelioma diagnosis or mesothelioma-related death. 

If you have been diagnosed with an enfermedades por asbesto, you may qualify for compensation without filing a lawsuit.

There are still over $30 Billion dollars placed in Fideicomisos de asbesto. The money can only be used to compensate people with asbestos-related illnesses like asbestosis, pleural thickening, mesothelioma and other cancers.

All we do is help people get compensation from Asbestos Trusts.

AsbestosClaims.law is your comprehensive resource for all things asbestos. We hope this information helps you. If you have any additional questions or concerns related to asbestos, including testing for exposure or how to file a claim, please ponerse en contacto, by email at [email protected]  o llámenos o envíenos un mensaje de texto al (206) 455-9190.

1 Asciak, R., George, V. and Rahman, N.M., 2021.Update on biology and management of mesothelioma. European Respiratory Review, 30(159).
2 National Cancer Institute, Symptoms and Causes.
3 Mayo Clinic, Mesothelioma, The Genetics of Cancer.
4 National Cancer Institute, Mesothelioma: Questions and Answers.
5 National Cancer Institute, Erionite.
6 Cigognetti, M., Lonardi, S., Fisogni, S., Balzarini, P., Pellegrini, V., Tironi, A., Bercich, L., Bugatti, M., Rossi, G., Murer, B. and Barbareschi, M., 2015.BAP1 (BRCA1-associated protein 1) is a highly specific marker for differentiating mesothelioma from reactive mesothelial proliferations. Modern Pathology, 28(8), pp.1043-1057.
7 Grace Hambuchen,Missouri Workers’ Compensation Enhanced Benefits for Mesothelioma Victims: Too Crispy or Too Chewy?, 86 MO. L. REV. ()
8 Borrelli, E., Babcock, Z. and Kogut, S., 2019.Costs of medical care for mesothelioma. Rare Tumors, 11, p.2036361319863498.
9 Hemingway, R.D., 2019.Mesothelioma and Physical Therapy. In Caring for Patients with Mesothelioma: Principles and Guidelines (pp. 99-119). Springer, Cham.