Mesothelioma is a cancer caused by exposure to asbestos, which affects the mesothelial cells. These cells form the linings that cover most of the body’s organs.
Direct effects on the body
The most common form of mesothelioma is pleural mesothelioma. This affects the linings of the lungs. Pleural mesothelioma accounts for around 75% of mesothelioma diagnoses.
Mesothelioma can also affect the heart – pericardial mesothelioma; and the testes – testicular mesothelioma; however both of these are very rare. The second most common form affects the abdomen, this is called peritoneal mesothelioma.
As with the more common pleural mesothelioma, peritoneal mesothelioma is caused by exposure to asbestos and can have a lengthy latency period. This means that someone could have been exposed to asbestos 10 to 50 years ago but may not develop symptoms of mesothelioma until now.
Peritoneal mesothelioma occurs in the cell walls in the abdominal cavity. Symptoms can include feeling or being sick, pain or swelling in the abdomen, diarrhoea or constipation, loss of appetite and an unexplained loss of weight.
Unfortunately, it is often not until the condition is at an advanced stage that mesothelioma is diagnosed. This is the case with each type of mesothelioma. Due to this, the prognosis for patients is poor. Currently there is no cure for mesothelioma and so treatment focuses on palliative care, relieving symptoms and improving quality of life.
One of the symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma is a build up of fluid in the abdomen, this is called ascites. Ascites causes swelling in the abdomen and can cause discomfort. The fluid can be drained through a procedure called abdominal paracentesis or an ascitic tap.
In many cases this procedure can be done as an outpatient and is not usually painful. After the procedure patients should feel much more comfortable and may also notice an increase in their appetite.
Due to its late diagnosis, patients suffering with peritoneal mesothelioma are often too unwell to have chemotherapy as this can take its toll on the body. However, in cases where a person is strong or where an early diagnosis has been made, chemotherapy may be used to try and shrink the cancer.
Again, due to the late diagnosis, surgery is often not an option for the treatment of peritoneal mesothelioma. However, if surgery is possible a peritonectomy can be done. This involves removing the section of the peritoneum – the lining of the abdomen – that has been affected by mesothelioma. Cytoreductive surgery may also be an option.
This involves as many as six peritonectomy procedures to remove as much cancer as possible. Heated chemotherapy is then introduced directly into the abdominal cavity. Both of these surgical options aim to reduce symptoms and increase quality of life.
Could I claim for peritoneal mesothelioma?
As with pleural mesothelioma or any other type, those suffering with peritoneal mesothelioma may be able to pursue a claim for compensation for their condition following exposure to asbestos.
Due to the latency period of the condition, many companies that exposed employees to asbestos in the 1960s to 1990s are no longer trading. Fortunately, this does not mean that a compensation claim cannot be made.
We have pursued claims against many dissolved companies. Through various searches we are often able to trace insurers for the companies and claims can then be pursued against them.
In pursuing a claim for mesothelioma, Asbestos Justice aim to make the process as quick and hassle free as possible. The entire process can be conducted over the phone and through the post or by email. Alternatively, if you would prefer a home visit, our specialist solicitors can come out and see you and your family.