Most people given the diagnosis of malignant mesothelioma will never have heard of this aggressive condition before, yet more people in the UK die from this disease than are killed on the roads.
What is mesothelioma cancer?
Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that usually develops in the lining of the lungs (pleural mesothelioma) but can also affect the lining of the abdomen (peritoneal mesothelioma) and the lining of the heart (pericardial mesothelioma).
How do you get mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is almost always caused by exposure to asbestos dust. It can develop a very long time after exposure to asbestos, so there is a lifetime risk of this disease after exposure to asbestos.
Who is at risk of mesothelioma?
The disease is not dose related so any exposure to asbestos fibre could in theory cause mesothelioma. The risk increases with the level of exposure. It is usually an occupational exposure.
What are the symptoms of mesothelioma?
The symptoms of mesothelioma usually take many decades to develop after exposure to asbestos. They are often unclear and difficult to diagnose without a chest x-ray or CT scan. It will usually be necessary to confirm any clinical diagnosis with a biopsy but common symptoms are shortness of breath, pain in the chest and persistent cough.
What to do next?
It is important to get early advice and support. The condition will require ongoing treatment and there are a number of local support groups in regions around the country that can help. The London Asbestos Support Awareness Group (LASAG) is an independent charity set up to assist patients and families affected by asbestos disease across London and the South East. They provide home support to patients with asbestos disease and their families.
Sadly there are some asbestos websites that look like charities but are in fact claims management companies or solicitors’ sites. Read the small print including the legal notice at the bottom of the website to see who they actually are.
It is essential to get early legal advice, you may be entitled to certain benefits or compensation. It may be possible to include within a claim the cost of future medical treatment such as immunotherapy, not available under the NHS.
Asbestos disease cases can be complicated and it is important to get early legal advice from a firm of solicitors who specialise in asbestos claims. Defendants and their insurers always use specialist lawyers so it is vital that you instruct a specialist mesothelioma lawyer to handle your claim.
A successful claim can help to cover any additional costs and replace loss of income caused by the illness, as well as deal with the issue of future costs that may be incurred and to provide for family.