What is mesothelioma and what causes it?
Mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer which develops in the mesothelium, the protective membrane which covers most of the body's internal organs. The primary cause of mesothelioma is exposure to toxic asbestos dust or fibers.
It’s thought that when asbestos fibres are inhaled or ingested, they pierce the mesothelial lining, causing cells to react abnormally, and usually result in scarring or inflammation. This most often starts in the outer membrane of the lungs known as the pleura and leads to pleural plaques or diffuse pleural thickening, altering the cell’s DNA to become malignant.
Symptoms can differ depending on the type of mesothelioma you are diagnosed with. Early warning signs can include a cough, shortness of breath and shoulder or abdominal pain. It's important that mesothelioma symptoms are identified and treated as soon as possible to improve quality of life.
Who can make a mesothelioma compensation claim?
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you may be able to make a claim for compensation. We also represent New Zealand clients who were exposed to asbestos in Australia.
Groups at a higher risk of developing mesothelioma include anyone who has worked with asbestos, such as:
- people in asbestos mining and manufacturing job
- people in the construction, power and shipbuilding industries
- close family or household members of people who work in these industries who may suffer from secondary exposure.
Mesothelioma often isn't diagnosed until the later stages of the disease as symptoms usually appear around 30 to 40 years after first exposure to asbestos. Sometimes it’s as long as 60 years, but usually not less than 15 years.
No matter how long ago your exposure was, if you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma cancer, our dedicated lawyers can help you claim compensation. Speak to an expert mesothelioma lawyer today.
How can a mesothelioma lawyer help me to claim compensation?
If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, it can be challenging to understand your rights and steps to making a mesothelioma claim for compensation. The process for making a mesothelioma claim also differs between states and time periods of exposure.
Our expert mesothelioma lawyers can help you understand what options are available to you, guide you through the claim process and help achieve the best possible outcome for you. Contact us today to talk about how we can help with your mesothelioma compensation claim.
What can I do if I think I'm at risk of developing mesothelioma cancer?
If you have been exposed to asbestos and believe you may be at risk of developing mesothelioma, asbestosis or any other dust disease, it's important to speak with your doctor as soon as possible.
It’s also a good idea to document any asbestos and/or dust, silica, fumes and chemical exposure in case you do develop an asbestos-related or occupational lung disease later in life. We have created a free National Asbestos, Silica, Chemicals, Fumes and Dusts Register to provide a convenient way to do this.
Recording the details of your exposure, regardless of how recent or long ago it was, can help any future mesothelioma claims for compensation you may need to make. Registration is free, and obligation-free as well. The register has helped a number of clients prove their exposure through workmate statements.
More frequently asked questions about mesothelioma
Mesothelioma cancer typically develops after inhaling or swallowing asbestos fibres and dust, so the mesothelioma usually occurs in the lungs or in the lining of the abdominal cavity. Less commonly, asbestos mesothelioma may affect the heart or reproductive organs.
There are four types of asbestos mesothelioma cancer:
- pleural - involving the lungs
- peritoneal - involving the stomach and abdomen
- pericardial - involving the heart
Pleural mesothelioma and peritoneal mesothelioma are the most common types, comprising approximately 90% of all cases.
Treatment options for a confirmed diagnosis of mesothelioma include:
- pleurectomy - surgery to remove affected tissue
- thoracentesis - a procedure that removes fluid from the pleural cavity through a needle inserted between the ribs
- pleurodesis - a special powder is inserted between the pleural layers to cause inflammation and stop production of excess fluid. This is performed using a slender instrument (endoscope) inserted into the chest
- paracentesis - a thin needle or tube is inserted into the abdomen to remove fluid from the peritoneal cavity (the space within the abdomen that contains the intestines, the stomach and the liver)
- chemotherapy - the use of cancer-killing drugs that can shrink the cancer and ease symptoms. Chemotherapy is often recommended if the cancer has returned following other treatment or if other treatments are inappropriate. Common chemotherapy treatments for mesothelioma include Cisplatin and Alimta
- radiotherapy - x-ray treatment to kill cancer cells. Only small areas can be treated or the healthy cells of the lungs, heart and liver may be damaged. Radiotherapy is often used to ease pain and breathlessness.
Note: This information is general in nature. Please consult your doctor about your health.
Pleural mesothelioma cancer develops in the membrane that surrounds the lungs (visceral pleura) or the membrane that lines the chest wall (parietal pleura). Pleural mesothelioma often results in a build-up of fluid which presses on the lung, known as pleural effusion, and causes breathlessness. Other symptoms of pleural mesothelioma include coughing, often severe chest pain, lethargy and weight loss.
Peritoneal mesothelioma cancer develops in the membrane that forms the lining of the abdominal and pelvic cavities. Symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma include painful and swollen abdomen caused by a build-up of fluid (peritoneal effusion), high temperature, nausea and vomiting, lethargy and bowel and urinary problems.
To diagnose both types of mesothelioma cancer, a doctor may perform a number of examinations including:
- taking a full medical history, including a history of possible asbestos exposure
- physical examination
- blood tests
- chest x-rays
- CT scans
- drainage and analysis of pleural or peritoneal fluid
- inserting an endoscope through a small incision in the chest wall to take a tissue sample (thoracoscopy)
- tissue sample or biopsy to determine the presence of malignant cells.
If you've been exposed to asbestos in the course of your work, or even in another setting, and you've since been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you may be eligible for compensation. It's important you seek legal advice to understand what options are available to you. Our experienced mesothelioma lawyers have settled many claims and can offer you expert advice.
The time for mesothelioma claims can vary between states, and depends on whether you are working at the time of diagnosis, and when your asbestos exposure was. Our experienced team of mesothelioma lawyers can help you navigate this.
The compensation for mesothelioma claims can vary between states, and depends on things like whether your condition is stable, the time of your exposure to asbestos and if you have people who are financially dependent on you (such as a spouse or children).
Our experienced team of mesothelioma lawyers can help you navigate this.
If you have a family member who was exposed to asbestos, developed a related disease such as mesothelioma and has since passed away, there may be some legal options available to you. It's important to seek legal advice to understand these options.
The first step in preparing for a mesthelioma claim is to contact an experienced asbestos claims lawyer. They will be able to advise you of the documents and evidence that will be helpful in your claim, such as doctor's reports.
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We have lawyers who specialise in a range of legal claims who travel to Australian Capital Territory. If you need a lawyer in Canberra or elsewhere in Australian Capital Territory, please call us on 1800 675 346.
We have lawyers who specialise in a range of legal claims who travel to Tasmania. If you need a lawyer in Hobart, Launceston or elsewhere in Tasmania, please call us on 1800 675 346.