Asbestos was used in just about every aspect of the construction process from the 1850s to the late 1970s. This is true in Boston, and it also true throughout the United States and Western Europe. There are a lot of reasons that asbestos was used so heavily beginning with the Industrial Revolution, but that was not the first time asbestos was used.
What many people may not realize is that humans have used asbestos for thousands of years. This is because asbestos is not a manmade product, but rather a naturally occurring element. Yes, it is true that it was often mined and refined into many consumer products, but it was also used in its natural state.The first time it was mined was around 4,000 years ago, but it was even used prior to that. The reason humans have used it for so long is because it has many beneficial properties. Some of the more obvious beneficial properties are that it has a natural resistance (technically absorption) to sound, fire, heat, electricity, and caustic chemicals, and it has a higher tensile strength than other similar elements. Ancient societies first started using asbestos fibers to strengthen pottery around 4,500 years ago. It could survive the heat of being baked when originally fired and strengthened the clay material.
Asbestos was later determined to be extremely useful as a bonding agent for commercial adhesives and other types of building products, so that is why it was so heavily used in tiles, wallboard, joint glues, and just about every other construction material you can think of; however, as our Boston asbestos exposure attorneys can explain, it is also deadly. The reason for this is because it can become trapped in a layer of tissue known as the mesothelium. The human body has no way to expel these fibers, and there is nothing doctors can do, either. After a period of 20 to 50 years, on average, the fibers will metastasize into the deadly form of cancer known as mesothelioma. Once a person has symptoms of malignant mesothelioma and goes to a doctor to receive a diagnosis, they are usually told they only have a very short period of time left to live.
Survival Statistics for Mesothelioma
According to the American Cancer Society, survival rates of mesothelioma have different meanings to different people. While this may seem like a strange statement at first, let’s break it down further. There is no question that data is going to be the same regardless of who is looking at it. For scientists, it is important to have the survival rate for research purposes. However, this is not only to study the disease, but to also to find a cure.
For example, if we find that people in some areas are surviving longer than others after being diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, there may be some reason for that, which can help researchers develop a treatment option or even a cure. However, these days, what scientists are finding is a survival rate that is not very high.
As discussed in the article, some victims of asbestos exposure and their families want all information possible, so they can plan for the future when making decisions about medical treatment; yet, on the other hand, some do not want to know anything, because it is very rarely positive.
A lot of the survival depends of the stage of the cancer at the time it was first discovered. Malignant mesothelioma ranges from stage 0 to stage IV, and it should be noted that stage 0 is not really found that often, as it is a precancerous state with typically no symptoms. Doctors might detect the cancer at this stage through close monitoring of a patient’s white blood cell count, or it may be discovered while another surgical procedure is being performed that is unrelated to the mesothelioma diagnosis. We have seen a case where a victim was having abdominal surgery to treat a severe bleeding disorder, and a malignant mesothelioma tumor was discovered.
In stage I, which is the least advanced stage of malignant mesothelioma, the median survival period is 21 months. This means that, even when the cancer is caught early, most patients will not survive two years. With a stage II cancer discovered, the median survival right is now 19 months. There is a stage III diagnosis that has a median survival rate of 16 months, and, finally, if the patient has been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, that patient typically has less than one year to live.
To fully understand the devastating impact of malignant mesothelioma, you must realize that these numbers listed above are not in the case of a patient who does nothing. These numbers include patients who have radical surgical procedures, such as removal of an entire lung and then had a warmed chemotherapy solution sprayed directly on the site of where the tumor used to be.
In terms of a Boston mesothelioma lawsuit, this all translates into a great deal of pain and suffering, which is one type of damages that your attorney can demand of the defendant. In these cases, there is also likely to be a considerable amount of money in medical expenses, which is one of the other types of damages that your attorney can demand.
Sadly, the survival rates we discussed are developed by the American Cancer Society as part its project to have adequate staging information for all types of cancer. This is why they have what they call a five-year survival rate. However, in the case of malignant mesothelioma, even though it is called a five-year survival, the majority of those diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma will not survive anywhere close to five years.
One of the reasons for this is because the cancer is very aggressive, but is also very hard to detect until it gets to a more advanced stage. Most people will not know anything is wrong for years until they start to develop shortness of breath and chest or abdominal pain. Once they develop these symptoms and decide to see a doctor, they are told they have less than a year or two to live. In many cases, the cancer has also spread to other parts of the body, with additional tumors appearing all over the patient. These tumors will grow large very fast, and there is little doctors can to do remove them. Even if they are able to remove the tumors, it will come at a substantial cost to the victim’s quality of life, as many patents will undergo surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation to treat malignant mesothelioma. Even in the best of cases, it should be noted that the patient’s life expectancy will only be extended for a short period of time. These are cases where we see two years of survival instead of one year in the data, as discussed above.
If you or a loved one is diagnosed with mesothelioma in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at 1-888-367-2900.
Survival Statistics for Mesothelioma, American Cancer Society
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Montana Settles Asbestos Claims for $25M, Feb. 19, 2017, Boston Mesothelioma Lawyer Blog