If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, it is a virtual certainty that you were exposed to asbestos at some point during your life. While there are a lot of legal questions that you will have if you have been given that malignant mesothelioma diagnosis, the first concern of you and your family is likely what are the treatment options.
The first thing to understand is that, as discussed in a recent news article from the Law Vegas Review-Journal, is that malignant mesothelioma is a very rare disease. That is both good news and bad, but for anyone who has already been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, it is generally bad news.The reason for this is because, as our Boston mesothelioma lawyers have explained in other posts on this blog, mesothelioma is considered an orphan disease. This means there are not that many people who get diagnosed with the disease each year, In turn, means there is not much money for drug companies to research and develop new treatment options. Essentially what we have is already existing cancer drugs that are not designed to work on mesothelioma tumors being used for those purposes in various clinical trials, and some of them work and some of them don’t. It should be noted that when we say the drugs work, we are generally talking about a slight extension in the lifespan of the patient, and this is often at the expense of that patient’s quality of life.
Rarity of Malignant Mesothelioma
To get an understanding how rare malignant mesothelioma is, let’s look at the numbers. According the American Cancer Society, while the rate of mesothelioma diagnoses have actually increased between the 1970s and the 1990s before leveling off, we are basically looking at around 3,000 new cases in the U.S. each year. The average age of someone being diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma is 69, and, for various reasons, mesothelioma is more commonly found in whites and Hispanic individuals that it is found in African Americans. Before we compare these numbers to the number of victims who are diagnosed with other types of cancers, we see that that is good news for society, but very bad news for the victims and their families. It should also be noted that most victims of malignant mesothelioma are dead within a year and a half of being initially diagnosed, as this is very aggressive form of cancer with few treatment options and no cure.
Now, let’s compare this to other types of cancer. As noted by the American Cancer Society in its 2017 Cancer Estimate, there will be approximately 1,688,780 cancer cases diagnosed this year alone. It is alarming that there are 4,600 hundred new cases of cancer each day and over 1,600 deaths from cancer each day in the U.S. alone. While this number also includes mesothelioma, we know that there are only around 3,000 cases each year, so more people will be diagnosed with the various other types of cancers in a single day than will be diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma in an entire year.
When we see these numbers in prospective, we can see why the drug companies are not spending much money on the treatment or cure for mesothelioma, and there is not much federal or state money either, because they are more concerned with diseases that affect many more people. This is a shame on behalf of the drug companies, because they are mainly concerned with making money and not so much about helping patients, despite what they say in their constant barrage of television commercials.
One last thing to keep in mind when looking at the numbers is that despite what many people think, mesothelioma is not the same as lung cancer. It is a cancer that can form tumors in the lungs, as it commonly does, but the metastasized cells are not the same type of cells that we find in the lung cancer typically associated with smoking.
Asbestos fibers are deadly because they are very sharp, do not break down, and the body has no means of expelling them. Essentially what happens is when a victim inhales the fibers, they become trapped in a layer of tissue known as the mesothelium. Mesothelioma lines most internal organs, and the cancer typically forms in the lungs, abdomen, or chest cavity. However, once it forms, it can quickly spread to any other of the body.
If the cancer forms in the lungs, it is known as malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM). MPM is the most common type of mesothelioma. If it forms in the abdomen, it is known as malignant peritoneal mesothelioma, and if it forms in the chest cavity, it is known as malignant pericardial mesothelioma.
Treatment Options for Malignant Mesothelioma
As our Boston asbestos injury lawyers have seen in various cases over the years, the treatment options currently involve either using chemotherapy and immunotherapy drugs designed for other types of cancers, treatment with radiation, or surgery. In many cases, doctors will use two or even three of these methods. In some cases, we have seen patients who have had an entire lung removed, and then a warmed chemotherapy solution is sprayed on the remaining tissue before targeted radiation is applied.
Damages in a Malignant Mesothelioma Case in Boston
While the medical options for a victim of malignant mesothelioma are not great, there is often more that can be done to compensate victims and families for the pain and suffering of mesothelioma. While there is clearly no way to take away the pain and suffering of victims and their families, our legal system allows us to be compensated at law, and, in this case, law means monetary damages. This comes from an old English usage where there was a distinction between law and equity. Law means money damages in personal injury lawsuit, including a malignant mesothelioma case.
There are various types of damages in a mesothelioma lawsuit, but one of the major components of a typical case is damages for pain and suffering. This is the pain and suffering experienced by the victim; however, if he or she dies, that money doesn’t go away. It is still owed to his or her estate, and the personal representative of the estate, who is typically a family member, can file the claim on decedent’s behalf.
As with any other personal injury claim, there are also damages for lost wages if the victim was still working, as is often necessary these days, as well as past medical bills, future medical expenses, special damages, and, in the case where the victim has died, funeral expenses. In some cases, it may also be possible to get punitive damages. While punitive damages are not typical in our legal system, asbestos makers showed an extreme disregard for the safety of victims, and that is one possible reason for making such a claim.
If you or a loved one is diagnosed with mesothelioma in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at (617) 777-7777.
5 Questions: Treatment options exist for mesothelioma, June 20, 2017, By Raja Flores, Law Vegas Review-Journal
More Blog Entries:
Montana Settles Asbestos Claims for $25M, Feb. 19, 2017, Boston Mesothelioma Lawyer Blog