How to Tell if You’re at Risk for Mesothelioma

by admin on March 26, 2009

You may have heard about Mesothelioma by listening to commercials on TV, but you may also be unaware that you could be at risk of developing this serious form of cancer that is usually caused by exposure to asbestos. Since a person may not develop any symptoms of the disease for as long as 20 to 50 years following exposure, if you were working prior to the mid 1970s, you could well have been exposed and still not show any signs of it. If you know that you worked in an industry that involved asbestos back before this time and are experiencing general chest or back pains, you should have it checked out. After all, people who worked in environments that exposed them to asbestos fibers need to watch for symptoms for the rest of their lives.

Mesothelioma patients have been diagnosed as having cancer cells surrounding their lungs or abdominal organs or inside their ribcages. While even a little exposure to asbestos could cause the disease, it’s far more likely to occur in people who were exposed over longer periods of time. It’s real possible that you aren’t even aware that you were ever working around asbestos, because it was common for employers back then to withhold from their employees the information that was coming out regarding asbestos exposure. Some examples of people who may have been innocently exposed prior to the 1970s include construction workers or those who were in the Navy.

There are a number of materials you could have been exposed to that contained asbestos, because asbestos was widely-used prior to the middle of the 1970s when the first reports of the damages it could cause were released. Before that time almost every kind of insulation contained asbestos, including insulation used in homes, around pipes, for fire-proofing, and in boilers. Powdered forms of plaster, cement, and joint compounds that were used to insulate contained asbestos, too, and since using them caused employees to breathe in a lot of their dust, they have proved to be a major source of asbestos exposure.

If you worked in one of the following fields prior to the mid 1970s, then you may be at risk for Mesothelioma: * The manufacture or installation of insulation products * Steel refineries and other industries which included the use of steel * Fabricators of brake and clutch shoes * Paper mill employees * Maintenance workers * Boilermakers * Those doing electrical or carpentry work and brick masons * Shipyard workers

Even if you know you worked in one of these industries and could have been exposed to asbestos, there’s no need to panic. Since this exposure will place you at a higher risk for Mesothelioma, however, you’ll want to make sure your doctor knows all the specifics. He may even want to run some tests just to make sure that you aren’t showing any signs of the disease. Most likely he will want to do a complete physical if you haven’t had one lately and have some x-rays taken of your chest and abdominal area. He might want you to take pulmonary function tests, a CT scan, or an MRI. If you show no symptoms, then you’re clear for now, but you’ll have to keep watch for the development of the condition all the rest of your life.

If you should happen to be diagnosed with Mesothelioma sometime in the future, you’ll want to hire a lawyer who specializes in this type of litigation to file a claim against your employer. You may be eligible for restitution if it can be proven that your employer was in any way negligent in providing you with information or safety equipment that could have prevented your illness.