What is Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer that develops in the cells that construct the thin lining that protects and supports the body’s vital organs. The cells are made up of what are called Mesothelial tissues which surround the chest, heart and abdominal cavities. Ninety percent of mesothelioma cases are caused by exposure to asbestos (the remaining 10% can be linked to exposure to radiation). Once asbestos filaments have been introduced into the system, cells mutate which causes the production of excess fluid and leads to extreme pain and discomfort. There are 5 types of mesothelioma. Four are malignant cancers, with the most common form being Pleural Mesothelioma.
West Virginia is composed mostly of a coal mining industry; however, power plants, nuclear plants and two oil refineries exist where asbestos was used in equipment until the mid 1970’s. According to the National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety, more than 75 occupational groups are known to have exposed workers to asbestos. Statistically, males are at higher risk of being diagnosed with mesothelioma, largely because jobs males tend to hold have a higher risk of asbestos. In fact, 85% of cases are male.
For the past decade West Virginia ranked top 5 among U.S. States where asbestos-related lawsuits were filed. Between 1999 and 2017, 1015 people died from mesothelioma or asbestosis in West Virginia alone, and between 1999 and 2017 there were 519 deaths caused by mesothelioma in the state. Most of these cases occurred in the Charleston metro area and about a quarter of them in Kanawha County. Between 1998 and 2000 West Virginia and four other states accounted for two-thirds of all U.S. asbestos case filings.
More than half a million mesothelioma injury claims have been filed up until now, and according to medical experts mesothelioma cases will continue to increase in the U.S. for at least another 10 to 20 years. This can be attributed to the fact that some cases it will take exposed workers years or even decades to recognize their cancer. It is also important to note that although asbestos is no longer used as a tool in workplaces, there are traces of its existence throughout the United States.
Treatment options for mesothelioma include surgery, radiation, chemotherapy or some combination of the three. There is currently no reliable cure for the disease; the goal of these treatments is to reduce pain and suffering and to prolong the lives of patients. Treatment is very expensive, typically costing between $400,000 and $800,000. Fortunately, mesothelioma victims almost always win money damages if they choose to pursue their case, although the cases can be complicated because the liable party may be difficult to pinpoint. It is imperative that you hire a qualified West Virginia mesothelioma attorney with an understanding of the science underlying asbestos exposure and mesothelioma, in time-tested strategies and in persistent negotiation.