What is Mesothelioma?

According to the National Cancer Institute, Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer in which malignant (cancerous) cells are found in the mesothelium, a protective sac that covers most of the body's internal organs.  Most people who develop mesothelioma have worked on jobs where they inhaled asbestos particles.  Approximately 2,000 new cases are diagnosed every year in the U.S.


The symptoms of asbestos exposure often don't begin to appear until 30 to 50 years after the initial exposure.  Symptoms include shortness of breath and pain in the chest due to an accumulation of fluid in the pleura.    Symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma include weight loss and abdominal pain and swelling due to a buildup of fluid in the abdomen.  Other symptoms may include bowel obstruction, blood clotting abnormalities, anemia and fever.  If the cancer has spread beyond the mesothelium to other parts of the body, symptoms could include pain, trouble swallowing, or swelling of the neck and face.

How is mesothelioma diagnosed?

Diagnosis can occur after a chest x-ray, CT or CAT scan, MRI, physical examination, and/or biopsy.

Who is at risk?

Asbestos has been mined and used commercially since the 1800s because of its electrical, heating and chemical properties.  It became popular following World War II, and since 1940 millions of American workers have been exposed to the asbestos dust.  Individuals who worked in mines, mills, factories and shipyards may have an increased risk of exposure.  In addition, family members of the workers have also shown an increased risk of exposure when the dust particles have appeared on the workers clothing and hair.

Litigation and Settlements

Today, the companies responsible for producing and mining asbestos have established funds to compensate people who have developed mesothelioma from asbestos exposure.  Due to the existence of these funds, many claimants are able to obtain settlements sooner than other types of personal injury claimants. 

More Information

If you have a question relating to a possible asbestos or mesothelioma case, please send a direct message or call our office at (314) 725-4400.  For more information on some of our recent cases, please visit our news page. We also have an FAQ relating to personal injury, class action, and other issues.