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Home » Latest News » Mesothelioma - The disease few know exists but kills 2500 people a year

Mesothelioma - The disease few know exists but kills 2500 people a year

Mesothelioma - The disease few know exists but kills 2500 people a year

Mesothelioma is a form of cancer. It mainly affects the external lining of the lung (known as the pleura). It can also affect the lower part of the stomach (the peritoneum). Many cases are diagnosed at a very late stage as symptoms appear late in the process of the disease developing. Sadly, mesothelioma is almost always fatal, and it is often within twelve months of the onset of symptoms, that the sufferer dies.

Specialist asbestos disease solicitors are taking on new cases of compensation on behalf of the victims of mesothelioma every day. That may seem strange, because it is now over 30 years since the most dangerous types of asbestos (blue asbestos and brown asbestos) were banned and 20 years since the least dangerous (white asbestos) followed suit. So why are new mesothelioma compensation claims being made now after all these years?

Before answering that question, it’s probably worth us taking a bit of time out first, to look at this strange sounding disease called mesothelioma and to explain what it is. As the title suggests, there are about 2500 deaths from mesothelioma every year based on the last statistics from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). The same source indicates that annual deaths from mesothelioma should continue at the same rate until the end of the decade and then start to decline. That being said, experts some ten years ago had thought that by now, the numbers of people dying from mesothelioma would already be in decline.

What is mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is a form of cancer. It mainly affects the external lining of the lung (known as the pleura). It can also affect the lower part of the stomach (the peritoneum). Many cases are diagnosed at a very late stage as symptoms appear late in the process of the disease developing. Sadly, mesothelioma is almost always fatal, and it is often within twelve months of the onset of symptoms, that the sufferer dies.

How does someone get mesothelioma?

The disease is mainly got by people who worked with asbestos or in an occupation where they were frequently exposed to asbestos dust and fibres as a result of the nearby work of others. For instance, labourers who were carrying out their duties in close proximity to, for example, carpenters who were cutting up Asbestos Insulation board (AIB) or laggers who were applying asbestos to hot water pipes and boilers, were subject to asbestos exposure.

Men are more likely to develop the disease than women, because they were exposed to it more often than women in the workplace. Particularly in the 1960s and 70s there would be more men in occupations and workplaces where asbestos exposure was likely to take place.

Many women who get mesothelioma, do so as a result of their having washed their husbands work clothes by hand, which back in the 50s, 60s and even 70s, was common. If their husband was being exposed to asbestos at work, the deadly dust and fibres were being brought home on their overalls or boiler suits. During the process of washing them, the wife of the worker would be exposed to the asbestos dust from the clothes. There have been cases of the daughters of workers also getting the deadly disease as a result of helping their mothers to do the washing.

How long does it take for symptoms of mesothelioma to appear?

As explained in our blog Asbestos Claims: What You Need to Know one of the peculiarities of all asbestos diseases is the length of time that it takes from exposure to enough asbestos dust and fibres to cause the asbestos disease (and it doesn’t always take a huge amount of exposure), through to the time that a sufferer from mesothelioma or another asbestos disease starts showing symptoms. The period of time, known as the latency period, can be anything between 20 and 50 years. Hence the reason that it is mainly people of 55/60 or older that are being diagnosed in the present day with mesothelioma or any of the asbestos related diseases.

What are the symptoms of mesothelioma?

  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain in the chest or lower back
  • A cough that won’t go away
  • Tiredness
  • Weight loss
  • Fever
  • Excessive sweating
  • Swelling (face/arms)
  • Problems with swallowing - a feeling that there is something stuck in your throat

In the case of mesothelioma affecting the tummy (Peritoneal mesothelioma) the symptoms include;

  • Pain in the stomach
  • Swelling of the abdomen
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation

Because these are fairly non-specific symptoms, they can often get passed over as being something trivial. Sufferers may get a mixture of these symptoms. As a result, the sufferer may well persist in carrying on with their daily lives and living with the symptoms, rather than visiting their GPs. Equally, even if a doctor is consulted, it is easy for any one of the symptoms to be considered as a fairly minor ailment. The problem with the symptoms appearing in isolation or even with a few of them manifesting themselves at the same time, is that their seemingly innocuous nature can lead to delays in them being diagnosed as mesothelioma, by which time the disease has progressed whilst the sufferer’s life expectancy has shortened.

What should I do if I have the type of symptoms that are described here?

  1. Get to your GP as soon as possible. It is better to be told by your doctor that what you are suffering is something much more trivial in nature than an asbestos disease, than to continue as normal in the hope that the cough or chest pain or whatever symptoms that you have, just disappear.
  2. When you visit the GP it is important to tell them of your history of working with asbestos or in an environment where asbestos was being worked on and where clouds of asbestos dust were a regular occurrence. If you do not, then the GP might not even consider asbestos disease as a possible cause of the symptoms you are suffering from.
  3. If after carrying out an examination of you, the GP believes that there may be enough cause for concern to think that asbestos disease might be a problem, they will refer you to a consultant for further tests to be carried out in the form of a scan or chest X-ray. This will then reveal whether or not asbestos disease is likely to be present.
  4. Equally as important is that if you are referred to a consultant, you should put together a history of where you worked and whether you were or were likely to have been exposed to asbestos in those places of work. Dates, even if approximate are important too, as is remembering the names of the places that you worked. Even if the company no longer exists, a good mesothelioma disease claims solicitor such as the ones at Bridge McFarland solicitors in Hull and Grimsby, will often be able to pursue a mesothelioma compensation claim for you, if a diagnosis of the disease is confirmed. This is because through experience they have a high chance of knowing or finding out who the insurers of the company were at the time and contacting them to start an asbestos claim on your behalf.

If I am diagnosed with mesothelioma, how do I make a claim for mesothelioma compensation?

The first thing that you need to ensure is that you find a solicitor who is expert in making claims on behalf of clients for asbestos disease compensation. Possibly, in more than any other type of compensation claim, this is vitally important. Asbestos and mesothelioma claims can be extremely difficult to pursue and you are highly recommended to use the services a solicitor that has considerable experience in this area. James Burrell and Leanne Keating at Bridge McFarland solicitors are both highly experienced mesothelioma claims solicitors and upon contacting them, they will soon put you at ease by explaining the claims process. It won’t take long in either of their company to realise that you are talking to solicitors who are complete experts in asbestos disease compensation claims.

James and Leanne travel all over the country to have the first meeting with clients at their home. They will take a detailed statement from you about your work history and how you came into contact with asbestos fibres/dust and at which place of work (as you may have suffered exposure to asbestos at more than one). They will set about obtaining all the evidence they require to prove your claim including obtaining medical records, arranging medical appointments with specialists to obtain reports, putting together details of your financial losses, what extra expenses you have or may have in the future and dealing with all aspects of pursuing your claim through to settlement. They will be able to do this on a No Win, No Fee basis. They won’t charge you a success fee if you win either, meaning you won’t have any deductions taken by them in respect of legal fees, from any compensation settlement at the end.

How long do I have to bring a claim?

You must start your claim within three years from the date that you were first told that you have the asbestos related disease of mesothelioma. By ‘starting a claim’ we mean starting court proceedings. It doesn’t mean that in all cases court proceedings will need to be started, as many cases settle without the need for them. We would advise you to contact a solicitor as soon as you have received a diagnosis of mesothelioma.

If you are bringing a claim on behalf of someone who has died from an asbestos disease, the law in most cases requires court proceedings to be issued within three years of the person's death. If at all in doubt contact us on 01482 320620 or contact us via the asbestos and mesothelioma page of our website.

How long does it take to get the claim settled?

Generally speaking mesothelioma compensation cases take less time to settle than claims for other asbestos diseases. This is because the other diseases require more evidence to prove the claim than is the situation with mesothelioma Compensation claims. It is possible that a mesothelioma could be settle out of court within about 4- 6 months. However, if there is missing evidence that needs to be obtained or court proceedings are required, then it can take 12 months or more. Because of the relatively short life expectancy of patients once they have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, often cases started before the suffers passes away, are continued thereafter on behalf of the beneficiaries of his or her estate.