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Mesothelioma in Tucson, AZ

Still a problem today

A common mistake people make about asbestos is thinking that it is problem of the past because asbestos is no longer used in construction projects. Unfortunately, asbestos-related disease remains a concern. Asbestos-related diseases, such as mesothelioma, may not appear until 30 years or more after exposure.

Mesothelioma is a serious, deadly, but preventable cancer, and it is directly related to asbestos exposure. That exposure may have taken place decades ago. Mesothelioma usually has a very poor prognosis, which means that it cannot be cured and will most likely lead to death.

Arizona has a long history of asbestos mining, where it was an industry from 1872 to 1982. Arizona currently ranks 21st in the nation for mesothelioma and other asbestos-related deaths. Many of the naturally occurring asbestos deposits in Arizona were on Indian reservations, and on-the-job asbestos exposure related to mining has created most of the asbestos-related health issues statewide. Counties with major asbestos operations included Gila, Coconino, La Paz, Cochise, Yuma, and Pinal.

What is asbestos?

Asbestos is a naturally-occurring mineral. It came into widespread use as a building material in the World War II years. Before we knew how dangerous it was, asbestos was used for its many desirable properties: It is strong, heat-resistant, and was thought to work well as an insulator and fire-retardant.

The Environmental Protection Agency says that asbestos can be found in many places. In building materials, asbestos may be in roof shingles. It can also be in the ceiling or floor tiles. There are many cement products that may contain asbestos. You may also find asbestos in automotive products, such as the clutch, the brakes, or the transmissions of cars and trucks. When looking for asbestos, think about anything that may need to resist heat or fire; asbestos may be in those materials, especially if the building or product was manufactured between World War II and the 1970s.

Use of asbestos in new construction and materials was in effect until the 1970s. People can generally expect that asbestos exposure might happen anywhere that buildings are decaying, undergoing demolition, or being renovated. Precautions must be taken in these cases to reduce exposure to asbestos.

How does asbestos harm workers?

Asbestos becomes a serious problem for people when the materials that contain it begin to break down. The destruction or decay of buildings lets the asbestos particles escape into the air. According to the Centers for Disease Control, when the materials are handled —as in during demolition or renovation—the asbestos within the building materials can separate into tiny particles that remain airborne and can be easily inhaled. It is this inhalation and asbestos exposure that is linked to asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma. These are mainly work-site related respiratory diseases.

What is mesothelioma?

While mesothelioma is clearly linked to asbestos, it is not a common form of cancer. It affects the pleura, the thin lining of the lung, chest, abdomen and heart. Mesothelioma sufferers generally exhibit:

  • shortness of breath
  • trouble breathing
  • unexplained weight loss
  • pain beneath the ribs
  • pain, swelling, or lumps in abdomen

According to the EPA, doctors can identify asbestos-related diseases by carefully investigating the medical history of the patient. This medical history will include the work history, cultural history, and environmental history of the patient, such as any time spent in mining, construction, or around automotive parts. If you suspect mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease, ask your doctor to perform a physical examination, a chest X-ray, and a lung function test.

What regulations exist?

Once asbestos was linked to mesothelioma, regulations regarding its control went into effect. The EPA regulates the rules for schools, building owners and managers. All schools are required to inspect for asbestos-containing materials, and building owners and managers must follow EPA regulations for renovation and demolition.

We can be glad that the use of asbestos products in the construction and automotive industries has significantly decreased in recent years. As of 1982, mining of asbestos has ceased in Arizona. However, asbestos can still be found in many residential and commercial settings.

If you or a loved one is suffering because of exposure to asbestos, call Goldberg & Osborne now at 1-800-THE-EAGLE (1-800-843-3245,) or SUBMIT A SHORT AND SIMPLE CASE FORM HERE. You may have a valid claim and be entitled to compensation for your injuries or losses.

Stages of Mesothelioma

A diagnosis of mesothelioma is accompanied by a series of tests given by your doctor. These tests will help your doctor understand your overall health relative to the progression of the disease and what methods are available for your treatment. Your doctor may use one of several staging systems to classify the severity and spread of mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma Diagnosis

Your mesothelioma stage is determined during your diagnosis. Your doctor may give you a blood test and may take tissue or fluid samples for lab analysis. Your diagnosis may also involve one or more imaging scans that will be performed by your doctor. Imaging scans provide your doctors with a visual display of the interior of your body to help them determine the size of the tumors and if the mesothelioma has spread to other areas of your body.

Mesothelioma Staging Systems

Mesothelioma is staged according to one or more of the three staging systems that are currently used in the United States. The specific definition of each stage is slightly different in each staging system, but all are sufficient in providing your doctors with the information required for your treatment.

Butchart Mesothelioma Staging System

Of the three staging systems for mesothelioma, the Butchart system has been in place the longest. It was introduced by Dr. Eric Butchart in 1976 and remains the most widely accepted system for mesothelioma staging in the United States. The basis of the Butchart system is the particular location of the tumors within the body.

The Butchart staging system is comprised of four stages:

  • Stage I – Cancerous cells exist in one of the three types of mesothelium: the pleura (lung lining), pericardium (heart lining) or peritoneum (lining of abdomen and other organs). In the pleura, only one side of the lung lining is affected, but the disease may be also be present in the diaphragm or the lung on the afflicted side.
  • Stage II – In pleural mesothelioma, the tumor has progressed to the wall of the thoracic (chest) cavity. It may also affect the esophagus, heart or the opposite side of the pleura from where it began. The lymph nodes near the thoracic cavity may also be affected.
  • Stage III – In the third stage, the tumor has penetrated through the diaphragm to the mesothelium on the other side: whether it’s the pleura or the peritoneum. The disease may also have spread to lymph nodes outside the immediate area.
  • Stage IV – Distant metastasis is present in stage four. This means that cancerous cells have traveled through your bloodstream to other parts of your body. At stage four, surgery can no longer be performed to control the disease, and treatment focuses on patient comfort.

TNM Mesothelioma Staging System

The TNM staging system was introduced by the American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) and is preferred by some specialists for being more specific than the Butchart system. According to the TNM staging system, mesothelioma is categorized according to three criteria: tumor size and spread (T), the spread to the lymph nodes (N) and the spread to other organs in the body (M).

After the TNM criteria have been classified, the results are combined in a process called stage grouping. The final stage groupings are very similar to those of the Butchart system and are listed as follows:

  • Stage I – In the first stage, only one side of the pleura or peritoneum is affected by mesothelioma, but the cancerous cells may also appear in nearby organs on the same side. Lymph nodes have yet to be affected.
  • Stage II – At this stage, the tumor may have spread to the lung or bronchial passages on the same side of the pleura that was originally affected. The pericardium and the diaphragm may also have been affected on the same side. Cancerous cells may be present on the lymph nodes in the immediate area.
  • Stage III – The third stage is characterized by the spread of mesothelioma to the wall of the thoracic cavity, the heart or other organs on the same side as was originally affected. Additional lymph nodes may also be affected.
  • Stage IV – Stage IV mesothelioma occurs when cancerous cells have spread to the opposite side of the pleura or peritoneum. It may also have spread into the mesothelium on the opposite side of the diaphragm. Organs in the abdomen or the neck may be affected at this stage, which also includes metastasis to distant organs.

Brigham Mesothelioma Staging System

The Brigham staging system is based on the viability of surgery as a treatment for your particular case of mesothelioma. However, it also takes into consideration other treatments, including radiation therapy and chemotherapy. In addition, the spread of the cancer to the lymph nodes plays a role as to the stage in which your mesothelioma is categorized.

The stages in the Brigham system are similar to those of the TNM system and the Butchart system. The details of the stages are as follows:

  • Stage I – Surgery is a strong option for treatment because the tumor is localized to a specific area of the mesothelium and has not spread to any other areas or lymph nodes.
  • Stage II – The mesothelioma is still contained to the same local area as in stage I, but it may have spread to nearby lymph nodes. Surgery is still possible in treating the disease.
  • Stage III – Cancerous cells have broken free of the local area where the disease began. The cancer may have spread to the chest wall or to the mesothelium on the opposite side of the diaphragm. Lymph nodes may also be affected, but this is not a requirement in categorizing mesothelioma into this stage. Surgery can no longer be performed.
  • Stage IV – The mesothelioma has become metastatic and spread to distant organs of the body. Surgery is not viable at stage IV.

It is imperative that you contact an experienced mesothelioma attorney as soon as possible to assess your situation and prospective claim for compensation, and we encourage you to contact the offices of Goldberg & Osborne today. Simply call 1-800-THE-EAGLE (1-800-843-3245) or fill out our online case form for your free, no obligation evaluation. We work at no cost until we win your case!

Pleural Mesothelioma

If you have been diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma, you are not alone. This is the most common type of mesothelioma diagnosis, making up nearly 70 percent of all cases. Pleural mesothelioma begins in the lining of the chest that surrounds the lungs. This lining is known as the pleural mesothelium or simply as the pleura.

The pleura is a thin, double-layered membrane that lines the walls of the chest cavity, and surrounds the lungs. Between the two layers is a lubricating fluid that allows the lungs to slide against the chest wall as they contract and expand while you breathe.

Pleural mesothelioma is a type of malignant cancer. The tumor begins in the pleura and later expands to nearby organs and lymph nodes. This is in contrast to lung cancer, which begins directly in the lung instead of the pleura. However, like lung cancer, pleural mesothelioma is difficult to detect, and it is usually not diagnosed until it reaches the later stages. For this reason, it is important to notify your doctor early of any symptoms you may be experiencing.

Pleural Mesothelioma Causes

It is estimated that over 90 percent of all pleural mesothelioma cases are linked to the exposure of asbestos. Asbestos is a natural, fibrous mineral that was once used in a wide variety of industrial and commercial applications. Throughout the 20th century, millions of people have inhaled airborne asbestos fibers, and hundreds of thousands have died from mesothelioma or lung cancer caused by asbestos.

Asbestos fibers are light and easily carried through the air by a slight breeze. Once the fibers are inhaled, they become lodged deep in the brachial passages of the lungs. The exact mechanism through which the fibers cause pleural mesothelioma is unknown, but what is known is that it can take from 10 to 40 years after exposure for mesothelioma to develop.

Of all the work-related causes of cancer listed in the United States, asbestos exposure is number one. In addition to pleural mesothelioma, the fibers of this mineral are known to cause two other types of mesothelioma, several types of cancer and many non-cancerous diseases, including asbestosis, pleural plaques and pleural fibrosis. While developing a non-malignant, asbestos-related medical condition does not necessarily lead to mesothelioma, the level of exposure that causes such diseases means an individual is at much greater risk of developing a malignancy in the future.

Pleural Mesothelioma Symptoms

If you have a known history of exposure to asbestos and begin to experience unusual health symptoms, it may indicate that you have pleural mesothelioma. However, the symptoms of pleural mesothelioma are very similar to symptoms of several less serious diseases or medical conditions.

If you begin experiencing symptoms, visit your doctor for a checkup. The only way to know if your symptoms are from pleural mesothelioma is to undergo diagnostic tests performed by your doctor or a cancer specialist. It is also a good idea to disclose all of the details concerning your exposure to asbestos. The details are important because the length and level of your exposure increase or decrease the risk of developing mesothelioma. The time when the exposure first began also plays a role because pleural mesothelioma will sometimes not develop until up to 40 years later.

If you have pleural mesothelioma, you may experience one or more symptoms, but many people with the disease do not experience any symptoms during the early stages. The most common symptoms you may experience include the following:

  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Coughing or coughing up blood
  • Chest pain
  • Weight loss
  • Pleural effusion – a buildup of fluid in the lungs or pleura
  • Sweating, fever or chills

Pleural Mesothelioma Diagnosis

Pleural mesothelioma is a very rare condition, especially for those who have no known history of asbestos exposure. Because of this, the most accurate diagnosis you can receive will come from an experienced cancer or mesothelioma specialist. Such specialists are trained in several diagnostic methods that are unique to cancer and mesothelioma. While you may initially visit your general practitioner to discuss symptoms you have been experiencing, if your doctor thinks you may have mesothelioma, you or your doctor should suggest moving on to a specialist as the next course of action.

The first step in diagnosing pleural mesothelioma is providing the doctor with a complete medical and work history, including any known asbestos exposure that occurred on or off the job over your entire employment career. The next steps are a general physical examination and chest x-rays. X-rays are useful in locating abnormalities within the chest cavity. If any abnormalities are present, then more sophisticated diagnostic imaging will be ordered, such as a CT scan or MRI. These types of electronic imaging tests will give a more accurate picture of what is happening inside you.

If a tumor is located through the diagnostic imaging tests, further diagnostic measures will be taken. Specific tests used to determine the presence of pleural mesothelioma include a biopsy of tissue or a thoracentesis. A thoracentesis involves the removal of pleural fluid through a needle or catheter and the subsequent lab analysis of the fluid. Both of these tests are usually performed on an outpatient basis using only a general anesthesia.

When a biopsy is performed, it is also done with a needle. The needle will be inserted through your chest wall and directly into the suspected malignant tumor. The tissue and fluid samples are tested in a medical lab through a process known as immunohistochemistry, which is used to identify abnormal cells.

If no definite diagnosis can be made after these procedures, your specialist may order further tests that are more invasive and may require surgery. One of these tests is a thoracoscopy. A thoracoscopy is the insertion of a long, thin tube with a light on the end that can be used to directly view the interior of your chest cavity. The tube may also have a camera attached to make viewing more efficient.

It is imperative that you contact an experienced mesothelioma attorney to assess your situation and prospective claim for compensation, and we encourage you to contact the offices of Goldberg & Osborne today. Simply call 1-800-THE-EAGLE (1-800-843-3245) or fill out our online case form for your free, no obligation evaluation. We work at no cost until we win your case!

Peritoneal Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer, and peritoneal mesothelioma is one of the rarest subtypes. In the United States, no more than 500 cases of peritoneal mesothelioma are diagnosed each year, which amounts to about 30 percent of all mesothelioma cases diagnosed in the same period.

The most common form of mesothelioma contract is pleural mesothelioma, which affects the chest cavity. In contrast, peritoneal mesothelioma originates in the abdomen. The abdominal organs and cavity are protected by a membrane of tissue that lines the abdominal wall, known as the peritoneal mesothelium, or peritoneum. It provides protection for the organs and allows the organs to rub against each other and the abdominal wall without causing irritation. Peritoneal mesothelioma is cancer that begins in the peritoneum.

When the cells of your peritoneum grow and reproduce abnormally, they form a tumor. This cancerous tumor is called malignant peritoneal mesothelioma. In the advanced stages of peritoneal mesothelioma, the cancerous cells can expand to your abdominal organs, lymph nodes and through the diaphragm to the area of the lungs.

Peritoneal Mesothelioma Causes

The primary cause of peritoneal mesothelioma is thought to be exposure to asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral that exists as a series of compressed microscopic fibers. Throughout the 20th century, asbestos was widely used as a form of insulation and as a component in many construction materials. As of the 1990s, asbestos use has been prohibited in the United States, but people continue to be exposed to existing asbestos during remodeling projects or building demolitions.

The link between peritoneal mesothelioma and asbestos exposure is proven, although medical science is not certain exactly how asbestos causes the cancer. One theory is that asbestos fibers are ingested and work their way through the digestive system and the intestines into the abdominal cavity. Another theory is that the fibers are inhaled and transported into the abdomen through the lymphatic system.

Peritoneal Mesothelioma Symptoms

If you believe you may have peritoneal mesothelioma, then it is important to visit your doctor as soon as possible. Early detection of the disease increases the chances that it can be successfully treated. The problem with waiting for the presence of symptoms is that, in most cases, they do not appear until 10 to 40 years after being exposed to asbestos. When symptoms do first appear, they are often mistaken for symptoms of a less serious and more common disease or medical condition. If you have a history of asbestos exposure, regular checkups are very helpful in the early detection of mesothelioma.

Most symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma can also be caused by other medical conditions, so it is important to visit a doctor if any unusual symptoms are present. If you are suffering from peritoneal mesothelioma, the symptoms you experience may include any or all of the following:

  • Ascites – a buildup of fluid in the abdomen
  • Abdominal pain or swelling
  • Weight gain or weight loss
  • Nausea
  • Swelling of the extremities
  • Bowel obstruction
  • Anemia
  • Fever

Peritoneal Mesothelioma Diagnosis

An early diagnosis of peritoneal mesothelioma is crucial. Early diagnosis depends on getting regular checkups if you are in a high-risk category, and it can depend on going to the proper specialist.

The diagnostic process begins with a physical examination and an analysis of your past medical and work history. If your doctor does not ask you about your history, it is important to disclose any known instances of asbestos exposure. This will provide your doctor with important knowledge that will affect how to proceed with your diagnosis.

The next step is getting basic x-rays of your chest and abdomen. These x-rays will help your doctor discover any abnormal growths. If something turns up in the x-rays, additional imaging scans may be performed, such as an MRI or CT scan. The results of these imaging techniques may warrant further investigation and confirmation. The most common results that are discovered by visual imaging of those with peritoneal mesothelioma include the following:

  • Dry-painful masses – This can be a single mass or several small masses located on the peritoneum.
  • Wet masses – These are small malignant plaques associated with fluid accumulation.
  • Mixed – Mixed masses are a combination of dry-painful and wet masses.

When any of the preceding three types of abnormalities are found, additional diagnostic tests are typically performed. The first of these is paracentesis, which is the collection of fluid from the abdomen with a long needle. The fluid then goes through testing for the presence of cancerous cells.

Another type of diagnostic procedure is a biopsy. In a biopsy, solid tissue is collected through a special needle and carefully examined through a microscope and a process called immunohistochemical testing.

In some cases, paracentesis and biopsy fail to provide enough data for an adequate diagnosis. This requires even further testing, including direct visual examination using a specialized tool known as a peritoneoscope.

Because of the difficulty associated with the diagnosis of peritoneal mesothelioma, the process can take up to four months. In addition, peritoneal mesothelioma often goes undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. For this reason, it is important to thoroughly examine all history of asbestos exposure, even indirect exposure. It has been found that many people working with asbestos would carry the fibers home on their clothing, exposing other family members.

As part of a thorough diagnosis, the tests will help your specialists not only to determine the presence of peritoneal mesothelioma but, also, the current stage of the disease. Determining the stage of the disease, the size of the tumors and how far the cancerous cells have spread is important in being able to determine the options available for your treatment.

If you have been diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma, it is imperative that you contact an experienced mesothelioma attorney to assess your situation and prospective claim for compensation, and we encourage you to contact the offices of Goldberg & Osborne today. Simply call 1-800-THE-EAGLE (1-800-843-3245) or fill out our online case form for your free, no obligation evaluation. We work at no cost until we win or settle your case!

Pericardial Mesothelioma

Pericardial mesothelioma is the rarest of the three forms of mesothelioma. It is estimated that pericardial mesothelioma accounts for approximately one percent to five percent of all cases of the disease. In fact, only about 150 cases have ever been documented and only 200 cases have ever been reported throughout the world. Even so, over 50 percent of pericardial tumors are due to pericardial mesothelioma.

The pericardial mesothelium, or pericardium, is a layer of tissue that surrounds the heart. It is also commonly referred to as the heart sac. The pericardium protects the heart and provides a slippery surface against which the heart can beat without becoming irritated or irritating the surrounding tissue. When the cells that comprise the pericardium grow with an abnormal shape or rate, and reproduce more abnormal cells, it is often the result of pericardial mesothelioma. As the disease progresses, it can expand to the lymph nodes and other parts of the body, eventually causing death.

Pericardial Mesothelioma Causes

The primary cause of pericardial mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos. However, the disease may not become apparent for up to 40 years after you have first been exposed. Asbestos is a natural mineral that has been mined from the Earth for hundreds of years. In the 20th century, new commercial and industrial applications put asbestos in high demand, and it was used extensively as insulation against heat and electricity and as a component in construction materials. By the 1940s, asbestos-related illnesses had already been documented, but a total ban on the material did not occur until the 1990s. Because pericardial mesothelioma has a long latency period and asbestos already exists in many buildings, new cases continue to be diagnosed every year.

Doctors are not sure exactly how asbestos causes pericardial mesothelioma or how asbestos fibers reach the pericardium. One theory is that when airborne fibers are inhaled, the circulatory system transports them to the pericardium, and they become lodged in the tissue. In addition, other forms of mesothelioma, especially pleural mesothelioma, begin elsewhere in the body and subsequently spread to the pericardium.

Pericardial Mesothelioma Symptoms

If you are experiencing adverse symptoms and you have a history of exposure to asbestos, it is recommended that you have a physical checkup performed as soon as possible. One major problem with early diagnosis is that pericardial mesothelioma symptoms are very similar to the symptoms of other, less serious, diseases, such as the common cold. However, early detection of pericardial mesothelioma is of the utmost urgency if you want to receive the most effective treatment.

Symptoms of mesothelioma may not be apparent at the onset of the disease. Mesothelioma may not begin until decades after exposure to asbestos, and symptoms may not appear until after the disease has progressed to its final stages. If you are suffering from pericardial mesothelioma, you may experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Chest pain
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Cardiac tamponade – the accumulation of blood inside the heart sac
  • Coughing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Sweating

Pericardial Mesothelioma Diagnosis

While the diagnosis process may require several procedures, including surgery, it is important that pericardial mesothelioma be diagnosed as soon as possible.. Initial diagnostic tools for pericardial mesothelioma include an analysis of your work history and previous medical history, a physical examination, and general chest X-rays. Your work history and medical history are integral parts of the diagnosis because known exposure to asbestos or other asbestos-related illnesses will prompt your doctor to perform more specific tests. The chest X-rays can also show if plaque, fluid buildup, or other abnormal growths are present.

If the initial diagnostic tools give your doctor a reason for concern, he or she may order further imaging tests and will most likely refer you to a specialist. Going to an experienced team of mesothelioma specialists will help to ensure a speedy and accurate diagnosis. Among the first of the tests you will undergo are additional imaging procedures. These may include a CT scan, an MRI, or both. CT scans are able to detect tumors around the heart in about 50 percent of cases. An MRI is useful in detecting any swelling of the pericardium and any unusual properties of nearby arteries.

Imaging techniques alone will not provide your doctors with enough information for a diagnosis of pericardial mesothelioma. If the scans produce results, further tests will be administered. The first of these additional tests is usually a biopsy. A biopsy is the study of a sample of your pericardium and any fluids present in your pericardium. The initial tissue samples will most likely be extracted through a specialized needle instead of through surgery. However, surgery will be required if more substantial amounts of tissue have to be extracted. The sample is then sent to a medical lab for a complete analysis.

Another diagnostic technique that can be used is a thoracoscopy. This technique involves the insertion of a thin, hollow tube with a light and camera attached to the end into your thoracic cavity. It provides your doctor with a first-hand look at your pericardium.

It is imperative that you contact an experienced mesothelioma lawyer to assess your situation and prospective claim for compensation, and we encourage you to contact the offices of Goldberg & Osborne today. Simply call 1-800-THE-EAGLE (1-800-843-3245) or fill out our online case form for your free, no obligation evaluation. We work at no cost until we win or settle your case!