If you worked in a job where you were exposed to asbestos, you may be wondering whether you could develop mesothelioma, an aggressive and deadly type of cancer. Unfortunately, there is a chance that you could.
Minnesota workers in many fields have been exposed to asbestos, often through the negligence of their employers. Common job sites where asbestos exposure occurred in Minnesota include power plants, taconite mines, wood conversion companies, mineral plants, Honeywell and its subsidiaries, and many others.
Exposure to asbestos can cause lung cancer and mesothelioma, which is a cancer of the mesothelium – a thin tissue surrounding most of your internal organs. The main type of mesothelioma is pleural mesothelioma, which attacks the tissue surrounding the lungs.
Less common is peritoneal mesothelioma, which affects the abdomen. There are two other types of mesothelioma that are quite rare: pericardial mesothelioma and mesothelioma of the tunica vaginalis. These affect tissue around the heart and the testicles, respectively.
Symptoms of mesothelioma
In the most common type of mesothelioma, pleural, you may notice a painful, chronic cough. Other symptoms include:
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Unexplained weight loss
- New lumps of tissue under the skin of your chest
In peritoneal mesothelioma, you might also experience unexplained weight loss, along with abdominal pain, swelling of the abdomen and nausea.
Chest pain and difficulty breathing are also symptoms of pericardial mesothelioma. For mesothelioma of the tunica vaginalis, you might notice a mass or swelling on a testicle.
If symptoms like these are troubling you, you should see a doctor right away. You should tell your doctor if you have been exposed to a significant amount of asbestos, as this may help pin down the type of illness you are experiencing.
The most common risk factor for mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos, especially asbestos dust. This can be inhaled or coughed up and swallowed, causing tiny, needle-like asbestos fibers to become lodged in the lungs or stomach. Unfortunately, mesothelioma can appear years or even decades after the exposure.
Exposure to asbestos can be first-hand, such as at a work site. It can also be second-hand, such as when a family member is exposed to asbestos brought home on the skin or clothing.
Additional risk factors for mesothelioma include having a family history of the disease and receiving radiation therapy to the chest for another type of cancer.
Most people who are exposed to asbestos never develop it. However, according to the EPA, there is no safe level of exposure to asbestos.
If your doctor has diagnosed you with mesothelioma, you may have legal options to help you pay for your treatment and to compensate you for your losses.