Mesothelioma Claims* – What is Mesothelioma?

Introduction to Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is a type of cancer which is caused by exposure to asbestos and is most commonly contracted due to exposure to asbestos at work. Mesothelioma is often known by the term ‘Meso’, a shortened version of the full name.

The name ‘Mesothelioma’ comes from the fact that the cells affected by this cancer are the mesothelial cells which cover the outer surface of the body’s internal organs.

Mesothelioma can be found on the lungs, the heart or the abdomen.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for mesothelioma and after diagnosis victims may only have a short time to live. It will usually be investigated whether surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy would be worthwhile; however, mesothelioma is considered to be a terminal illness.

If you have contracted mesothelioma, you may be entitled to make a mesothelioma claim and should consult a mesothelioma solicitor.

Types of Mesothelioma

Pleural Mesothelioma and Peritoneal Mesothelioma

There are two main types of mesothelioma, called Pleural Mesothelioma and Peritoneal Mesothelioma.

Pleural Mesothelioma
Pleural Mesothelioma is the most common and is caused by inhaling asbestos fibres into the lungs. A tumour forms on the lining (pleura) of the lungs, which makes breathing difficult and painful. The majority of mesothelioma claims we deal with are for Pleural Mesothelioma.

Peritoneal Mesothelioma
Peritoneal Mesothelioma is less common but is also caused by exposure to asbestos. A tumour then develops on the lining of the abdomen (peritoneum) which prevents it from working properly to lubricate the organs inside the abdomen. Although Peritoneal Mesothelioma is less common we have still dealt with mesothelioma claims for this disease.

How is Mesothelioma Contracted?

Causes of Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma is caused by breathing in asbestos dust. Mesothelioma affects approximately four times as many men as women. This is because in most cases the exposure to asbestos occurred at work in places such as shipyards, building sites, power stations, railway workshops and other factories where predominantly men were employed decades ago.

Unlike other asbestos related conditions, mesothelioma can develop even after exposure to relatively low levels of asbestos or where the exposure took place over a relatively short period of time.

Many women who have developed mesothelioma have contracted it after contact with the work clothes and overalls belonging to their male relatives although some were directly exposed at work or by living close by to a factory which released asbestos fibres into the surrounding environment.

Symptoms of Mesothelioma

Seeking Medical help

Mesothelioma can develop between 15 and 40 years or more after an exposure to asbestos. If you have been exposed to asbestos in the past and you start to suffer from any of the following symptoms you should visit your GP and mention your concerns:

  • Pains in the lower back, abdomen or chest
  • A persistent cough
  • Breathing difficulties, shortness of breath or a feeling of tightness in the chest
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Problems with appetite or difficulty swallowing
  • Sweating, fevers, diarrhoea or constipation
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Swelling of the abdomen

Some people with mesothelioma have no symptoms at all in the early stages; therefore, if you know that you have been exposed to asbestos in the past and believe it may be the cause of your symptoms, it is always a good idea to visit a doctor for medical advice. Any damage caused by asbestos may be possible to detect with a scan or x-ray.

Workers most at risk from developing Mesothelioma – Professions where asbestos was commonplace

Boilermakers and Laggers – It was commonplace for boilers to be insulated with asbestos lagging. Boilermakers also work alongside the contractors (laggers) who install and renew asbestos boiler insulation. This type of work has put boilermakers and laggers at a particularly high risk of developing mesothelioma.
Electricians – are at risk of developing mesothelioma because they also worked alongside laggers. Electricians also often have to cut or drill through asbestos insulation to install cable trays, instruments, switches and wiring systems.
Joiners and Carpenters and Builders – are also at risk of developing mesothelioma as a result of sawing, drilling and fixing or replacing asbestos cement board often used in partition walls, suspended ceilings, flooring, roof tiles and thermal insulation.
Motor Mechanics – may have been exposed to asbestos as it was frequently used in brake pads and clutches. This has put some Motor Mechanics at risk of developing mesothelioma.
Pipe Fitters and Plumbers – install, maintain and repair pipes, boilers and heating systems. The nature of their work means that they have to cut or drill through walls as well as cutting and assembling sections of pipe, removing and replacing damaged sections of pipe, valve and flanges etc. All of these tasks put them at risk of developing mesothelioma as pipes frequently used to be covered with asbestos lagging. As the pipes were cut, fibres from the asbestos lagging were released into the air and inhaled by the pipefitter or plumber.

Victims of mesothelioma are certainly not limited to the professions mentioned above. Our specialist mesothelioma solicitors / lawyers have helped victims of this asbestos related disease with their mesothelioma claims who have worked in many other professions including firefighters, teachers, police officers, managers and a professor.

There are also a number of other key issues that need to be addressed from the outset. If the company is still in existence, does it have sufficient assets to be in a position to discharge a judgment handed down by the courts? Have you been exposed to asbestos on different occasions, circumstances and/or workplaces? It is not unknown for companies defending claims to seek to ascertain, by way of court order, the circumstances surrounding your exposure to asbestos. We have experienced a situation where the defendant sought a court order to examine the claimant’s boiler house flue to determine if that is where the asbestos exposure arose!

When the above issues have been established there is a range of expertise required to bring the case to court which include the following -

  • A respiratory physician
  • In circumstances of mesothelioma, a consultant oncologist
  • A nursing expert to quantify the cost of care in terms of assistance provided to a person with deteriorating health due to mesothelioma or asbestosis
  • An occupational therapist to address the aids and appliances required by a person with mesothelioma/asbestosis i.e. hoists, shower adaptations, etc.
  • A vocational expert to address any issue associated with loss of earnings or loss of pension entitlements arising from premature retirement or death
  • A consultant actuary to calculate the capital losses associated with the foregoing situations.


CONTACT A SOLICITOR

Our experienced Medical Negligence Solicitors are happy to meet with you to explore the legal options available.

For more information or to arrange a meeting please contact Kathrin Coleman or Marguerite Baily or call us on 01-5313800


PUBLIC INFORMATION SERVICES

-          Irish Cancer Society ‘Living with mesothelioma’ Click here to read
-          Citizens information ‘Asbestos regulations in Ireland’Click here to read

*In contentious business, a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement. This statement is made in compliance with RE.8 of SI 518 of 2002