Mesothelioma Guide | Murphy Law Firm | Personal Injury Attorneys

Mesothelioma Guide

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Detection & Diagnosis

Learn about the detection & diagnosis of mesothelioma.

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Symptoms of Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma has many symptoms we should all be aware of.

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High Risk Jobs

Find out what jobs present a higher risk of mesothelioma.

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Detailed information about the condition Asbestosis.

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Wrongful Death

Information and advice on wrongful death

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Treatment Options

Information on choosing the best path from here.

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We can help you get the best physician for you. One who specializes in mesothelioma and asbestosis cases who can give you an accurate diagnosis. 

If you have mesothelioma, or if a loved one has passed away from the cancer, there is a high likelihood that you’re eligible for financial recovery. Personal injury lawyers at Murphy Law Firm can help.

Mesothelioma is a serious and often terminal form of cancer, a cancer that affects the mesothelium. The mesothelium is the membrane that lines the interior of the chest and abdomen and surrounds the internal organs. Mesothelimoa mostly affects the pleura but it can also affect the peritoneum and the pericardium. These are the mesothelium of the abdominal cavity and the mesothelial lining around the heart. 

The primary risk factor for developing mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos, a naturally-occurring mineral that’s dangerous to ingest. Mesothelioma can take eight to 10 years or longer to form from the time of exposure. If you have mesothelioma, or if a loved one has passed away from the cancer, there is a high likelihood that you’re eligible for financial recovery. Personal injury lawyers at Murphy Law Firm can help.

Mesothelioma and Negligence

Mesothelioma is a hot topic in personal injury and wrongful death law because the majority of cases stem from exposure to asbestos fibers. The material saturated certain industries, especially construction, fireproofing, and ship building. It was a sought-after mineral for its resistance to fire as well as its durability and strength, making it almost indestructible. Asbestos has been used in thousands of products during the twentieth century. These products range from consumer to building products. 

It has been estimated that about 30 MILLION tons of asbestos have been used in various products.

Brief History of Mesothelioma Awareness

Early 1900s

  • The dangers of asbestos were still a mystery.


  • The poisoning effects of asbestos exposure began to cause concern.


  • A number of countries had banned the use of asbestos, but for thousands of people the damage was already done.

Asbestos particles smaller than the eye can see lodge into places within the body - most often in the lungs - and remain there for decades before eventually becoming a cancerous growth. These particles come in multiple types.

Types of Asbestos





Products with Asbestos

Many of the products that are used for the thermal insulation or products are subject to high amounts of heat were and sometimes are continued to be manufactured with some type of asbestos. Some of the most common products made with asbestos are products such as automotive brake pads, floor tiles, fire proofing material, pipe covering, different types of insulating materials, and packing materials.

asbestos at risk occupations

Effects of Asbestos

Exposure to asbestos does not normally cause immediate effects. Most injuries and illnesses are due to exposure for long periods of time. Many times the effects of asbestos exposure can take between 25-40 years to develop noticeable symptoms.

Exposure to asbestos can, in many cases, cause a condition called asbestosis, the formation of scar tissue in the lungs. This condition results from the interaction of the asbestos fibers with lung tissue due to inhalation. Asbestosis starts when the body begins its natural defenses against the foreign substances in the lungs. The body begins producing an acid in order to destroy the asbestos fibers. Because the asbestos fibers are very durable, most of the time, the acid has no affect on the fibers and instead scars the tissues of the lungs.

Diagnosis of Mesothelioma

There are different types of tests doctors may use to diagnose mesothelioma.

Imaging Test
Many times in the case of suspected mesothelioma, the doctor may order a chest x-ray. This x-ray may show some irregular thickening of the pleura in the lungs, mineral deposits, decreased spaces between the lobes of the lungs, and fluid buildup in the pleural space.

Imaging tests such as X-rays, CT / CAT scans, and MRI scans can help determine the extent, size, and location of the suspected cancer.

Fluid tests and other tissue test:
In cases when patients have a pleural effusion, a sample of this fluid can be removed by inserting a needle into the chest cavity. Using this fluid sample, doctors can test the sample in order to determine its chemical makeup and determine whether cancer cells are present. 

If a patient has been found to have a tumor of some kind in the pleural space, a piece of that tumor can be removed using a techique called thoracoscopy. In this procedure, a small video camera is inserted into an incision in the patient's chest. The doctor then removes a small sample using a set of specialized forceps. 

In cases where the patient might have pleural mesothelioma, the doctor may perform a bronchoscopy. In this procedure, a small lighted tube is placed in the mouth, moved down the throat and maneuvered into the lung's airways. This is done in order to detect if anything is blocking the patients airways.

Types of Mesothelioma:

There are a couple of different types of mesothelioma. They are categorized by where the cancerous cells are found.


    This type of mesothelioma affects the pleural lining of the lungs. Tjere are two main types of pleural mesothelioma, malignant and benign. The benign type can be removed surgically and are not typically life threatening. Malignant types of pleural mesothelioma can be very dangerous. Only about 2,000 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma every year.

    Pleural Mesothelioma is a cancer of the lining around the outside of the lungs; the only known cause of this cancer in people living in the United States is exposure to asbestos. This type of mesothelioma is the most common and accounts for about 75% of all mesothelioma cases.

    Some symptoms of this type of mesothelioma are shortness of breath, weakness, weight loss, loss of appetite, chest pains, lower back pains, persistent coughing or difficulty swallowing.

    Due to the nature of this cancer, the spread of the tumor causes pleural thickening which can decrease the use of the patient's lungs.


    This type of mesothelioma affects the thin membrane that encases the organs in the abdomen. This thin membrane is called the peritoneum. The only known cause for this type of cancer is prolonged exposure to asbestos. It is believed that once the asbestos fibers are inhaled the fibers become lodged in mucus and are in turn swallowed. The fibers are then sometimes lodged into intestinal tract. Another believed explanation is that fibers lodged in the lungs migrate through the lymphatic system into the peritoneum. This tpye of mesothelioma makes up about 20% of all mesothelioma cases.

    Some symptoms of this type of mesothelioma are abdominal pain, weakness, weight loss, loss of appetite, nausea, and abdominal swelling. Due to the nature of this cancer fluid can often accumulate in the peritoneal space. This condition is called ascites. If untreated, tumor may grow and cause increasing pressure on the organs which may lead to bowel obstructions.


    This very rare type of mesothelioma is found in the pericardium, the lining around the heart. 

    Most pericardial mesothelioma symptoms are caused by the buildup of fluid and the thickening of pericardial layers. 

    The following symptoms may indicate pericardial mesothelioma:

    • Heart Palpitations or irregular heartbeat
    • Chest pain
    • Heart Murmurs
    • Cough
    • Difficulty Breathing
    • Orthopnea
    • Fatigue
    • Fever or night sweats

Risk Factors When Dealing With Mesothelioma

  • Inhalation of dust particles
  • Second-hand exposure through someone else
  • Direct exposure to asbestos
  • Direct exposure to asbestos

any of these can lead to mesothelioma and other asbestos-related harms such as asbestosis.

There are certain factors that cause people to be more susceptible to getting this type of cancer. The main factor is prolonged exposure to asbestos fiber. A person's chances of having lung cancer increases 7 fold just by being exposed to asbestos. In a recent study by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), it is believed that more than 700,000 schools and public buildings contain some type of asbestos material. The people most likely to be exposed to asbestos are miners, factory workers, and any person that dealth with the manufacturing of insulation. Also, since asbestos fibers mostly travel through the air, the families of those people that were exposed to asbestos are much more likely to develop mesothelioma than the average person.

Because of the time frame when asbestos products were mostly used the average age of a person diagnosed with mesothelioma is between 50-70 years old. Also, because much of the workforce dealing with these materials were men, men are 5 times more likey to develop mesothelioma than women. Unfortunately, the serverity of this cancer and the age at when this disease emerges in patients makes the survival rate of this cancer very low. The average survival time is one year. However, the early discovery of this disease helps prolong the patient's life. When the disease is found early, approximately half of the patients lives for about two years and almost 20% live for 5 years after being diagnosed.

A few other causes have been linked to malignant mesothelioma:

  • Radiation: A material, thorium dioxide also known as thorotrast, which was formerly used in X-rays as been discovered to cause cancer.
  • Simian Virus 40: The virus also known as SV40 has been shown to cause the growth of mesothelioma cells in humans and animals.
  • Tobacco: It has been shown that smoking does not directly lead to mesothelioma. Although people who smoke and were involved with asbestos products were 50 to 90 times more likely to develop lung cancer.

Decades later, when exposure leads to cancer, it's typically too late for the victim to recover. However, some new treatment options exist to give patients more hope than they had in the past.

Mesothelioma and negligence are generally closely related. Today's courts see asbestos exposure as serious act of negligence on the part of companies that did not limit employee exposure or provide protective equipment. The companies should have tested the material or stopped using it once speculation of asbestos-related harms came to light. Even if the company you worked for at the time of exposure is bankrupt or no longer in business, you may be able to recover through trust funds the government has set up for victims like you.


  • Surgery: This is a common treatment for mesothelioma. The affected area can be removed if the cancer is confined to a relatively small area. The doctor may choose to remove a piece of the mesothelial lining of the lung, the lung itself, or even part of the diaphragm depending on severity and spread of the disease.
  • Radiation Therapy: The use of high energy x-rays may be used to kill the affected mesothelial cells. The radiation may be either machine produced or placing items inside the patient that produce radiation.
  • Chemotherapy: A common way of dealing with cancer is the use of chemotherapy. Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill the afected cells. These drugs may either be given in pill form or in the form of a shot.

Options for Mesothelioma Patients and their Families

The odds of securing financial compensation are high for victims and their family members. You could receive payment for all mesothelioma-related medical bills, lost wages, lost quality of life, physical pain, and emotional suffering.  It's important to speak to a lawyer as soon as possible after a mesothelioma diagnosis.


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