Friday, September 5, 2008

Mesothelioma Attorney

Questions to ask when selecting a mesothelioma attorney.

These pages provide consumer tips for how to deal with the financial aspects of selecting a mesothelioma attorney.   They do not provide any information regarding the medical aspects of this serious disease.

Since so much is at stake, selecting the right mesothelioma lawyer is very important.   According the Wall Street Journal, lawyers say a typical mesothelioma award in a mesothelioma settlement is $1 million, and attorneys get 40% of this amount.   If the case actually goes to trial, the average award was $6 million in 2001, which was triple the amount awarded just two years earlier.

So, mesothelioma attorneys are very eager to find mesothelioma patients.   And it's vital that patients select the mesothelioma attorneys that are best for them.

A Brief Background on Your Legal Rights Regarding Mesothelioma

Companies that manufacture products that contain asbestos have known for over 60 years that asbestos can cause serious diseases.

Unfortunately, because many of these companies wanted to increase their profits, they kept this information quiet, thereby seriously endangering their workers.  

There are now laws that help protect the workers who have been harmed by their exposure to these asbestos-related products.  

However, since representing mesothelioma can be so profitable to attorneys, it is important that people who have mesothelioma be especially careful selecting attorneys who are really qualified to represent them.   Therefore, we have created a list of...

Important Questions to Ask When Selecting a Mesothelioma Attorney

Question #1 to Ask When Selecting a Mesothelioma Attorney:

What is your personal experience in representing mesothelioma patients?   Your goal is to find out how many cases the attorney has actually handled.  

You also want to know: how many of these were settled, and how many of these went to trial?   What were the results of each case?

You should ask the same questions about his or her law firm.   You're goal is to find out about the firm -- is this an area the firm specializes in?

Question #2 to Ask When Selecting a Mesothelioma Attorney:

Next, you want to ask if the lawyer intends to actually handle your case him or herself.   Many attorneys simply refer these cases to another law firm and receive part of the fee in exchange.   This may not be in your best interest.

Click here for more questions to ask when selecting a mesothelioma lawyer 

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Mesothelioma Symptoms

The early symptoms of mesothelioma are generally non-specific, and may lead to a delay in diagnosis. Sometimes resembling viral pneumonia, pleural mesothelioma patients may present with shortness of breath, chest pain and/or persistent cough; some patients show no symptoms at all. A chest x-ray may show a build-up of fluid or pleural effusion (discussed below). The right lung is affected 60% of the time, with involvement of both lungs being seen in approximately 5% of patients at the time of diagnosis. Less common symptoms of pleural mesothelioma include fever, night sweats and weight loss. Symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma may include pain or swelling in the abdomen due to a build-up of fluid, nausea, weight loss, bowel obstruction, anemia or swelling of the feet.

PLEASE KEEP IN MIND THAT THESE SYMPTOMS MAY BE CAUSED BY MESOTHELIOMA OR BY OTHER LESS SERIOUS CONDITIONS. ONLY A DOCTOR CAN MAKE A DEFINITIVE DIAGNOSIS.

Information on the symptoms, diagnosis, staging, and treatment of peritoneal mesothelioma.

Information on the symptoms, diagnosis, staging, and treatment of pleural mesothelioma.

Pleural Effusion

One of the most common symptoms of mesothelioma is a pleural effusion, or an accumulation of fluid between the parietal pleura (the pleura covering the chest wall and diaphragm) and the visceral pleura (the pleura covering the lungs). Both of these membranes are covered with mesothelial cells which, under normal conditions, produce a small amount of fluid that acts as a lubricant between the chest wall and the lung. Any excess fluid is absorbed by blood and lymph vessels maintaining a balance. When too much fluid forms, the result is an effusion.

Types

Pleural effusion is broken down into two categories, transudates and exudates. A transudate is a clear fluid that forms not because the pleural surfaces are diseased, but because of an imbalance between the normal production and removal of the fluid. The most common cause of transudative fluid is congestive heart failure. An exudate, which is often cloudy and contains many cells and proteins, results from disease of the pleura itself, and is common to mesothelioma. To determine whether a fluid is a transudate or exudate, a diagnostic thoracentesis, in which a needle or catheter is used to obtain a fluid sample, may be conducted.

Symptoms

As the volume of fluid increases, shortness of breath, known as "dyspnea", and sometimes pain, ranging from mild to stabbing, may occur. Some patients may experience a dry cough. When the doctor listens to the patient’s chest with a stethoscope, normal breath sounds are muted, and tapping on the chest will reveal dull rather than hollow sounds.

Diagnosis

Diagnosis of pleural effusion is usually accomplished with a simple chest x-ray, although CT scans or ultrasound may also be used. A special x-ray technique, called a lateral decubitus film, may be used to detect smaller effusions or to enable the physician to estimate of the amount of fluid present. If the underlying cause of the effusion is readily apparent (such as in the case of severe congestive heart failure), sampling of the fluid may not be necessary, however, because pleural effusion may be symptomatic of a number of disease processes from benign to malignant, a fluid sample is generally taken. Diagnostic thoracentesis, in which cells are extracted from the pleural cavity, is commonly done when the possibility of mesothelioma exists, however, in up to 85% of cases, the fluid tests negative or inconclusive even though cancer is present. It is ultimately a needle biopsy of the pleura (lining of the lung) or an open surgical biopsy which confirms a mesothelioma diagnosis.

Treatment

Pleural effusion caused by heart failure or infection can usually be resolved by directing treatment at the cause, however, when testing has realized no diagnosis, and fluid continues to build or recur, doctors may recommend chest tube drainage and chemical pleurodesis. Chemical pleurodesis is a technique in which a sclerosing agent is used to abrade the pleural surfaces producing an adhesion between the parietal and visceral pleurae. This will prevent further effusion by eliminating the pleural space. Talc appears to be the most effective agent for pleurodesis, with a success rate of nearly 95%. It is highly effective when administered by either poudrage or slurry. Poudrage is the most widely used method of instilling talc into the pleural space. Before spraying the talc, the medical team removes all pleural fluid to completely collapse the lung. After the talc is administered, they inspect the pleural cavity to be sure the talc has been evenly distributed over the pleural surface. Some doctors prefer to use talc mixed with saline solution which forms a wet slurry that can roll around the pleural cavity.

Fatigue in Mesothelioma Patients

Mesothelioma Pain

Early Diagnosis Is Critical For Effective Treatment of Mesothelioma

Cancer is one of the most fatal diseases nowadays. It doesn?t choose its victims. Men and women alike, old and young die of cancer. Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that affects the mesothelium, specifically the Pleura (membrane that surrounds the lungs) and the Peritoneum (membrane surrounding the abdomen). Both Pleural Mesothelioma and Peritoneum Mesothelioma are primarily caused by the inhalation or exposure to asbestos, an incombustible fibrous mineral of impure magnesium silicate used in various industrial products. About 30 to 50 per cent of the total Mesothelioma cancer patients had not been exposed to asbestos, yet they have acquired the disease. Cancer specialists continue to study this rare kind of cancer so as to provide the public clear and exact information with regard to its cause, nature and cure.

Like many other forms of cancer, Mesothelioma has different stages. The earliest stage is still curable since only one layer of the pleura is affected. Surgery is the number one option for patients with Stage I Mesothelioma. The doctor removes the part of the lining of the lungs or chest (in case of Pleural Mesothelioma) and the lining of the abdomen (in case of Peritoneal Mesothelioma). In Stage II Mesothelioma, surgery can still be executed although some lymph nodes may have already been infected by the malignant Mesothelioma cancer cells. The diaphragm may also be removed; in severe cases, the Mesothelioma patient has to sacrifice one of his lungs.

Usually, surgery comes with systemic treatments, which include radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Through radiotherapy, Mesothelioma cancer cells are killed; however, only the cells in the treated area die. High energy rays used in radiotherapy or radiation therapy may either come from an external machine or from thin plastic tubes positioned into the tissues where Mesothelioma cancer-stricken cells are found. Inside the plastic tubes are radiation-emitting materials that kill the malignant cells. The use of an external machine is called external radiation therapy while the other is called internal radiation therapy. Also, a radioactive substance such as radiolabeled monoclonal antibody is circulated around the body during radiotherapy.

Chemotherapy is the use of anti-cancer drugs to kill the malignant cells. In treating Mesothelioma, the anti-cancer drugs are usually given to the patient through intravenous injection (within the vein). Oncologists are still studying the possibility of treating Mesothelioma through intracavitary chemotherapy (within the chest or abdomen). Some Mesothelioma patients also undergo Photodynamic therapy, a kind of cancer therapy that combines the use of drug (photosensitizer) with a specific kind of light. The photosensitizing agent when exposed to the light produce oxygen that destroys nearby malignant cancer cells. The drug is injected into the bloodstream and is absorbed by the cells.

In order to relieve the symptoms of Mesothelioma such as the pain in the chest or abdomen due to the build up of fluid, a physician drains the fluid by using a needle. The procedure is known as thoracentesis (removal of fluid in the chest) or paracentesis (removal of the fluid in the abdomen). To prevent further accumulation of the lubricating fluid in the membranes of the chest or abdomen, drugs are given through a tube in the affected organ.

Although the said treatments to Mesothelioma have been proven effective, chance of recovery and survival still depends on the size or extent of the cancer. Chances are higher when Mesothelioma is still in its early stages. Surgery is only advisable only up to the second stage of the Mesothelioma cancer wherein only one part or smaller portions of the membranes are affected. A patient diagnosed with stage IV Mesothelioma (diffuse Mesothelioma) has only about 4-24 months to live. Furthermore, the age of the patient and his general health condition is also crucial to his recovery. Older patients do not respond well to certain cancer treatments such as surgery because their tissues, organs and other body parts are more delicate.