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Mesothelioma Symptoms & Diagnosis - Injury Compensation Claim Solicitors - Australia

LAWYER HELPLINE: 1800 339 958

Asbestos related diseases have been recognised for more than a century however it is only since 1991 that the use of asbestos and asbestos products has been outlawed in Australia. Due to the long period of time passing (the latency period) between exposure to asbestos fibres and development of obvious mesothelioma symptoms, which can be as long as 50 years after exposure, it is anticipated that new diagnoses of asbestos related diseases will continue to rise until about the year 2020. Our specialist solicitors deal with all types of asbestos related disease including compensation for asbestosis, pleural disease and asbestos lung cancer with a particular specialism in mesothelioma claim settlements. If you believe that you are suffering from an asbestos related disease we are able to arrange for you to be urgently examined by a medical consultant. We are able to provide detailed legal advice and pursue lung cancer, asbestosis, pleural disease and mesothelioma claims on a no win no fee basis. We offer free advice on mesothelioma compensation claims from specialist lawyers with no further obligation.

Mesothelioma Symptoms and Diagnosis

Mesothelioma is a rare type of lung cancer associated almost exclusively with exposure to asbestos, a mineral that forms fine, needle-like fibres that embed themselves in the distal lung tissue at the lining of the lungs. This then irritates the lung lining so that, over an extended period of time, cancer forms.

Because mesothelioma generally occurs in the periphery of the lungs, it often causes few symptoms until it enters the late stages of the disease. The earliest mesothelioma symptoms include chest pain and shortness of breath. The pain, because the cancer is on the lining of the lung, can be pleuritic, meaning it is sharp and occurs with each breath. Bigger breaths cause a greater amount of pain. The shortness of breath can occur with exertion only or at rest.

Later mesothelioma symptoms include fever and night sweats, cough, and weight loss. There is a feeling of malaise, which is the overall feeling of being unwell. If the mesothelioma happens to be in the lungs, there can be a swelling of the abdomen from the tumour or because fluid has built up in the abdominal cavity, causing a symptom called ascites. There can be a bowel blockage and abnormalities in blood clotting, which causes anaemia.

The diagnosis of mesothelioma can be difficult because mesothelioma symptoms aren't always specific to cancer and because the tumour is difficult to see on a plain chest x-ray. It is often the shape of a pancake, with the cancer spreading around and along the lining of the lung. This is difficult to see unless one has a CT scan of the lung with contrast medium or an MRI scan of the lungs. These are 3 dimensional “x-rays” that show up the tumor more easily.

The doctor may wish to prove the diagnosis of mesothelioma with a biopsy. Biopsy of the mesothelioma can't usually be done with a bronchoscope, which is what's used to treat ordinary cases of lung cancer because the cancer is usually too far along the bronchial tree to reach the tumor.

Instead, a mediastinoscopy is done. This involves a camera at the end of a tube that goes from the skin into the space between the chest wall and the lung tissue, where mesothelioma usually resides. Biopsies can be taken and looked at under the microscope and will prove that a mesothelioma exists.

In less common cases, an open lung biopsy can be done that is actually a surgery to open up the chest wall or abdominal wall if the tumour is in the abdomen. The cancer is seen visually and a biopsy is taken. In open biopsies, the cancer can be looked at under the microscope immediately and the surgery can be expanded to remove the entire tumour and surrounding normal tissue. It is not uncommon for an entire lobe of the lung plus lymph nodes to be removed.

If the tumour proves to be a mesothelioma, then the patient goes on to have chemotherapy and radiation to the affected area. Even with aggressive therapy, only 40 percent of patients survive one year after confirmed diagnosis following observation of mesothelioma symptoms. By the end of the fourth year, only ten percent or less of patients have survived this cancer.

LAWYER HELPLINE: 1800 339 958