A mesothelioma patient is any patient who is suffering from the rare form of cancer known as mesothelioma. This disease is usually caused by either direct or indirect exposure to asbestos and is sometimes known as asbestos disease or asbestos poisoning. Smoking is not a direct cause of mesothelioma but a combination of smoking and asbestos exposure can increase the likelihood of mesothelioma in the lung area. Symptoms of mesothelioma can include breathing difficulties and coughing, chest pain and other symptoms such as fever, weight loss and pain in abdomen, neck or head. The symptoms might occur several decades after the exposure to asbestos, and the amount of exposure is not clearly correlated with the likelihood of getting the disease.
Diagnosis of Mesothelioma is difficult because all the symptoms can be caused by other less serious diseases and can be supported by chest X-ray and/or CT scan or MRI and biopsy.
Patients don't usually recover from the disease. Median survival times are usually about nine months from presentation with the five-year survival rate being around ten percent, although occasionally people do survive for more than twenty years after contracting it.
Most patients die within one and a half years of finding out that they have this disease not because the disease is so rapidly progressing but because diagnosis of this particular disease is often only definite during the late stages of the disease.
There are many forms of support for patients, including large amounts of relevant information on the internet, and discussion groups etc. as well as specialist medical centers and other forms of support.
Treatment can be expensive, sometimes totaling close to a million dollars, which is one reason most patients take legal action against the employer who exposed them to asbestos. Treatment can include combinations radiation and chemo treatment and surgery but radiation therapy alone has proved ineffective.
Legal actions concerning mesothelioma began around 1930 then increased in 1960 when firm data on the link between asbestos and mesothelioma was proven. More than 500,000 asbestos claims have been filed so far. The amounts received from mesothelioma claims can be considerable and there are specialist asbestos lawyers and attorneys working to help each mesothelioma patient claim as much as possible.