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Living with Asbestosis

When we think of asbestos and the damage it can do, we are normally thinking of malignant mesothelioma.  Malignant mesothelioma is a very aggressive form of cancer that will normally result in a patient’s death within a short period of time after initial diagnosis.

xrayanalysisOne of the reasons for the short life expectancy after initial diagnosis for someone with malignant mesothelioma is because of how the cancer affects a person and how it grows and spreads.  The illness begins when someone inhales or otherwise ingests deadly asbestos fibers.  These fibers are sharp and can become embedded in a layer of tissue called the mesothelium.  As one might expect, this is where mesothelioma gets its name.

In addition to mesothelioma, exposure to asbestos can also lead to another serious medical condition known as asbestosis.  As Boston mesothelioma lawyers know, asbestosis is caused when the sharp asbestos fibers cut and scar the lungs to the point where breathing is seriously impaired. The symptoms are similar to those of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) normally caused by years of smoking.

As discussed in a recent news feature from LJ World.com, the family of one man suffering from asbestosis is looking for help from the community so their loved one can do some of the things he used to enjoy now that he suffers from asbestosis.  This man used to be an avid gardener, but now even a walk through this back yard is too treacherous for his lungs, and he can no longer do it.  His family is hoping to raise the $45,000 necessary to build level walkways in his yard, so he can get around safely.

With asbestosis, the bodily systems affected are similar to those impacted by mesothelioma. The mesothelium is a layer of protective tissue that lines most organs in the human body.  While mesothelioma is usually thought of by most people as a type of lung cancer, it can actually form in the stomach or the chest cavity, as well as the lungs.  It is also a distinct type of cancer than the lung cancer we associate with smoking.  However, it should be noted that asbestos can cause that type of lung cancer as well.

Once the fibers are embedded, they take between 20 and 50 years to metastasize into mesothelioma to the point where a patient has noticeable symptoms like shortness of breath or chest or abdominal pain.  At this point, he or she will go the doctor to be told they only have a year of so left to live in most cases.  There are treatments, but they are far from a cure and are very invasive.  Even in the best cases, they typically only increase the life expectancy by a year or two.

While it takes between 20 and 50 years to know you have mesothelioma, there is not much doctors can do to prevent this in the meantime.  The fibers are microscopic in size, and it typically takes a biopsy to even see them.  Even if they are detected, the body has no way to naturally remove them and neither do doctors.  The only thing they could really do is to remove the organ tissue with the fibers, and that is feasible in an otherwise healthy person.

If you or a loved one is diagnosed with mesothelioma in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at 1-888-367-2900.

Additional Resources:

Lawrence family seeks help on project for man afflicted with asbestosis, July 14, 2016, By Mackenzie Clark, LJ World.com

More Blog Entries:

Grant v. Foster Wheeler, LLC – Proof of Asbestos Defendants’ Products as Proximate Cause of Injury, July 5, 2016, Boston Mesothelioma Lawyer Blog