Once it has been established that a patient has malignant Mesothelioma, one of the most important things that your physicians will do is to determine exactly what stage of the disease you are in. The reason why this is necessary is that it is the stage to which the disease has progressed that determines what the best course of treatment will be for you, and what your expected prognosis is. Staging is accomplished through a series of diagnostic tests, including X-Rays, CT Scans, MRI and Endoscopic Ultrasound. All are used to detect the presence of cancer cells and to determine where they have spread; cancer can spread via growth to other tissue, through the lymph system or via blood cells. There are four identified stages.
In Stage One, the Mesothelioma is localized, which means it hasn’t yet spread. It is restricted to the lining of either the chest, or the lining of the chest and the lung, but has not yet infiltrated the lung itself.
In Stage Two, the lining of more organs is involved, and the cancer has spread to the lining between the lungs, the lining of the diaphragm, the lining of the lung and chest walls, and has also spread to either lung tissue or diaphragm tissue.
Stage Three is far more advanced, and includes involvement of all of the areas cited above, but also has spread to either the lymph nodes or various areas of soft tissue and fat that surround the lung. The lymph system connects many of the body’s vital organs and systems, and once the cancer cells have been found in the lymph it is likely to find Mesothelioma cells in other areas of the body, far from the lungs.
Stage Four is the most advanced stage of Mesothelioma; once a patient has been diagnosed at this stage surgery is no longer an option. The cancer is now found on both sides of the body, is found in all of the areas previously listed, and can additionally be found in the spine, in various organs, and in sites far from the body including the brain.
As your physicians determine the stage of your disease and identify the appropriate treatment, whether surgical, therapeutic or palliative, it is a good idea to keep all medical records and invoices available for your Mesothelioma attorneys to document as part of any claim you may wish to make for compensation for damages.
Mesothelioma is an extremely rare form of cancer. Although its incidence continues to grow, there are only between two and three thousand cases that are diagnosed per year, and that is unfortunately not enough of a sampling to have allowed doctors and researchers to find a cure. There are several different treatment approaches that are commonly used, including typical cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation, surgical approaches, and a combination of those therapies. Most of the treatments that are offered are simply designed to prolong life or offer a relief from some of the more painful symptoms that the disease causes, and many patients opt out, choosing to simply allow the disease to run its course rather than put themselves into a weakened state as a result of treatment. Other patients are more interested in seeking all options, whether for themselves or for future patients. These patients choose to allow themselves to be used as a testing ground for clinical trials.
When a clinical trial is run, there is no promise or guarantee of cure, or even of treatment. You are putting yourself in the hands of the scientists who are trying to find a cure and letting them test their theories on your body and your illness. Patients understand that the approaches that are being used on them have not been approved, and may in fact make their symptoms worse. These trials are generally aimed at one of three goals: determining whether a course of treatment is safe, determining whether it is effective, and then comparing its effectiveness against other forms of treatment. The sizes of the groups involved may vary depending upon which phase of the testing is being done, and there are many variables involved in being accepted into a test, including demographic information such as age or sex, what the initial source of exposure to asbestos was, how far the disease state has progressed, and what treatments (if any) the patient has already tried.
Taking part in a clinical trial is a decision that needs to be made by the patient and his family, and should probably be part of the same decision making process that goes into determining what to do to seek compensation for damages caused by the illness. A qualified Mesothelioma attorney can help you with determining the strength of your case, as well as point you to facilities that are offering clinical trial opportunities.
From the 1930s through the 1970s, American servicemen and women in all branches were exposed to asbestos in a variety of forms. Because asbestos is fire and heat resistant, the military ordered its use in hundreds of applications. Although the material may have served its role as a protective agent, its use came with inordinately high costs; the vast majority of Americans who are suffering from mesothelioma, an asbestos-related deadly illness, are veterans. Because mesothelioma does not appear until decades after initial exposure, it is often difficult to determine the exact source of its origin, but evidence has shown that not only were military employees impacted, but civilian employees and the families of those who served were also exposed on a secondary level; they came into contact with asbestos dust in their workplaces and on the clothes, skin and hair of their friends, colleagues and loved ones. Particularly impacted were the families of those who worked in the Navy ship yards.
To address the various complications and difficulties created by this debilitating illness, the government has provided specific benefits through the V.A. for veterans who suffer the effects of having been exposed to asbestos during their service. Unfortunately, these benefits often pale in comparison to the relief that has been found by other mesothelioma patients in their personal injury lawsuits. Many veterans are frustrated and believe that their opportunities to collect the compensation they need to pay for their medical bills and damages are limited because of their inability to sue the government for liability. The good news is that there are other possibilities for compensation. It is recommended that veterans or their family members who have been negatively impacted by exposure to asbestos contact a qualified mesothelioma attorney. A lawyer who specializes in asbestos lawsuits can advise you as to your ability to file suit against the manufacturers who provided the asbestos products that were used in the Navy yards and other military applications.
A mesothelioma attorney can guide you through the intricacies of filing a lawsuit that will provide for you beyond the compensation and assistance provided by the V.A. They have the experience to analyze the details of your case and tell you whether you have a case against outside parties, and can help you to file your claim so that you and your family can cope with the costs and impact of your illness.