You may have heard about Mesothelioma by listening to commercials on TV, but you may also be unaware that you could be at risk of developing this serious form of cancer that is usually caused by exposure to asbestos. Since a person may not develop any symptoms of the disease for as long as 20 to 50 years following exposure, if you were working prior to the mid 1970s, you could well have been exposed and still not show any signs of it. If you know that you worked in an industry that involved asbestos back before this time and are experiencing general chest or back pains, you should have it checked out. After all, people who worked in environments that exposed them to asbestos fibers need to watch for symptoms for the rest of their lives.
Mesothelioma patients have been diagnosed as having cancer cells surrounding their lungs or abdominal organs or inside their ribcages. While even a little exposure to asbestos could cause the disease, it's far more likely to occur in people who were exposed over longer periods of time. It's real possible that you aren't even aware that you were ever working around asbestos, because it was common for employers back then to withhold from their employees the information that was coming out regarding asbestos exposure. Some examples of people who may have been innocently exposed prior to the 1970s include construction workers or those who were in the Navy.
Prior to the 1970s asbestos was widely-used in many different applications. Once the reports of the health risks involved in its use started to be made public, this use of asbestos was curtailed. Before that time, however, almost every type of insulation contained asbestos, such as that used to insulate pipes, do fire-proofing, and in boilers. Types of plasters, cements, and joint compounds that came in powdered form and were intended to insulate were also full of asbestos. Since the powders caused a lot of dust, employees who breathed the air while using them were particularly vulnerable to asbestos exposure.
If you worked in one of the following fields prior to the mid 1970s, then you may be at risk for Mesothelioma: * The manufacture or installation of insulation products * Steel refineries and other industries which included the use of steel * Fabricators of brake and clutch shoes * Paper mill employees * Maintenance workers * Boilermakers * Those doing electrical or carpentry work and brick masons * Shipyard workers
Even if you know you worked in one of these industries and could have been exposed to asbestos, there's no need to panic. Since this exposure will place you at a higher risk for Mesothelioma, however, you'll want to make sure your doctor knows all the specifics. He may even want to run some tests just to make sure that you aren't showing any signs of the disease. Most likely he will want to do a complete physical if you haven't had one lately and have some x-rays taken of your chest and abdominal area. He might want you to take pulmonary function tests, a CT scan, or an MRI. If you show no symptoms, then you're clear for now, but you'll have to keep watch for the development of the condition all the rest of your life.
If the time comes when you're diagnosed with Mesothelioma, one of the first things you'll want to do is to hire a lawyer who specializes in cases involving the disease. He will be able to evaluate your claim and file a suit against your employer seeking damages if it can be proven that there was any negligence on the part of your employer in withholding information or not providing the safety equipment you needed.