Mesothelioma: An Aggressive, Deadly Cancer That’s on the Rise

Mesothelioma: An Aggressive, Deadly Cancer That’s on the Rise


12/13/2010 // Chicago, IL, USA // Cooney & Conway // Cooney & Conway

Diagnoses of mesothelioma, a highly aggressive and nearly always fatal cancer, are on the rise. So much so that in 2010, mesothelioma cases—the result of exposure to asbestos decades earlier—are expected to peak in the United States.

That’s sobering news to patients, researchers, and the mesothelioma lawyers who have been fighting for justice, accountability, and compensation—often quite successfully—for those struck down by the asbestos-related disease.

The health risks of asbestos exposure were scientifically proven years ago. So why the increase in mesothelioma at a time when the dangers of asbestos are common knowledge and strict laws are in place regulating asbestos use, removal, and handling? Asbestos exposure is the single known cause of this horrific disease.

A big reason why diagnoses are peaking now: the latency period for mesothelioma, which is often 20 or 30 years or more after asbestos fibers are inhaled into the lungs or ingested.

Once diagnosed, mesothelioma, a rare cancer that attacks the cells lining the body’s internal organs, is irreversible, and the patient’s prognosis is grim. There is no cure for mesothelioma, or even an effective long-term treatment. For most patients, their only relief is the courtroom, where mesothelioma lawyers have won large, often multimillion-dollar verdicts and settlements against those responsible for exposing them to asbestos.

Mesothelioma is not the only condition that can be triggered by asbestos exposure. Lung cancer, too, is a common ailment plaguing those who have inhaled asbestos particles—something that can easily happen even today, when asbestos is disturbed in the course of renovation or demolition work and fibers are released into the air.

In medical practices across the country—particularly those in communities with large populations of retired asbestos workers—doctors report seeing a new uptick in the steady stream of mesothelioma cases.

Dr. Roy Smythe, chairman of the department of surgery for Scott & White Healthcare in Texas, reports that he sees two to four new mesothelioma patients a month—and for each of these, there is probably another patient seen by another doctor at the clinic.

Texas has developed into a focal point for mesothelioma cases due to the high number of residents who were exposed to asbestos years ago while working in the oil and refining industry. Others worked along the Gulf Coast in shipbuilding—another line of work where asbestos exposure was common.

Smythe says he’s seen patients who have worked as insulators, pipe fitters, roofers, and many other jobs that entailed significant exposure to asbestos-containing materials.

With their lives and finances in dire shape, many of these individuals are seeing mesothelioma lawyers as well. Victims are, of course, not looking to lawyers for a cure, but for the compensation that will make the future easier for their families—and help send the message that asbestos exposure has all-too-real consequences.

This news story was brought to you by the mesothelioma lawyers at Cooney & Conway. For more than half a century, we’ve brought relief—and recovery—to those injured by the negligence or harmful actions of others. In the process, we’ve litigated some of the country’s most significant asbestos lawsuits, helping victims of mesothelioma, lung cancer, and other asbestos-related diseases get answers—and justice.

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