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What is Mesothelioma?

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What is Mesothelioma?


When someone hears the word mesothelioma, it can be difficult to understand precisely what this medical condition entails. As I speak with you today about mesothelioma, its causes and consequences, and the potentially liable parties, it will be important for you to understand more about this disease and the ways it can cause serious and life-threatening harm.

What is Mesothelioma?

According to the Mayo Clinic, malignant mesothelioma is “a type of cancer that occurs in the thin layer of tissue that covers the majority of your internal organs.” Why is it called mesothelioma? That layer of tissues that makes up the lining of the lungs is known as the mesothelium, and thus cancer of the mesothelium is known as mesothelioma.

What are the Types of Mesothelioma?

There is not just one type of mesothelioma, though. Depending upon the particular part of the mesothelium that is affected by cancer, your doctor will classify your mesothelioma within a specific category. Most often, patients who suffer from mesothelioma have a type of cancer that has impacted the pleura, which is the word for the tissue that surrounds your lungs. 

When a patient is diagnosed with this type of mesothelioma, the disease is known as pleural mesothelioma. There are numerous other forms of the disease, too, however. While these other classifications tend to be rarer than pleural mesothelioma, this cancer can also affect a patient’s abdomen (at which point it is known as peritoneal mesothelioma), and it can also affect the issue around a person’s heart or testicles.

Mesothelioma is a particularly aggressive form of cancer, and it is often deadly. Indeed, as the Mayo Clinic explains, while patients can receive certain treatments for mesothelioma, it is often impossible to cure this disease.

Some people are diagnosed with a noncancerous condition that sounds like malignant mesothelioma. As the Mayo Clinic clarifies, a condition known as “benign mesothelioma” (also described sometimes as a solitary fibrous tumor) is not the same thing as the cancer that I have been discussing above. Rather, this noncancerous condition is one in which a tumor occurs in the chest, and it does not have a lot to do with malignant mesothelioma.


What are the Most Common Causes of Mesothelioma in California?

Many of the plaintiffs I meet do not understand fully what might have caused their malignant mesothelioma. The cause of this devastating cancer is important because it can have a significant impact on issues of liability. One of the primary causes of mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos, according to the American Cancer Society. 

Typically, asbestos exposure is responsible for cases of pleural mesothelioma, and the American Cancer Society cites this exposure as “the main cause” of this form of cancer. How does it happen? When a person breathes in asbestos fibers, those fibers ultimately travel from a person’s air passages to the pleura (which, as you will remember from my discussion above, is the tissue surrounding a person’s lungs).

Those fibers wreak significant havoc on the pleura, and they can be responsible for both inflammation and scarring. In addition, those asbestos fibers can cause damage to your cell’s DNA, which can lead to cancer. As the Mayo Clinic explains, “cancer begins when a series of genetic mutations occur within a cell, causing the cell to grow and multiply out of control.”

The American Cancer Society and the Mayo Clinic emphasize that we do not know for certain what causes all types of mesothelioma. Sometimes, cancers form because of a person’s inherited conditions. In other situations, a person’s health conditions or lifestyle choices may affect the likelihood of being diagnosed with cancer. For instance, in some cases, radiation treatments that you underwent for another type of cancer may cause damage to your cells’ DNA, leading to mesothelioma. In addition, a person’s general environment can play a role, too.

The environmental surroundings are where the issue of asbestos becomes most obvious as a risk factor for developing mesothelioma. While not everyone who is exposed to asbestos develops mesothelioma, the experts agree that asbestos exposure is a major risk factor and should be taken very seriously.

What is Asbestos and How Could I Have Been Exposed to It?

If you were recently diagnosed with mesothelioma, you might be wondering whether asbestos could be the cause of your cancer. You might be asking yourself: where could I have come into contact with asbestos? To answer that question, you will need to understand how asbestos has been used in the past, and how it can continue causing harm to Sacramento residents in the twenty-first century.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides a helpful handout on asbestos. First, you are probably wondering what asbestos is and where it can be found. In short, asbestos is a type of mineral that is actually a naturally occurring element. As the CDC explains, prior to the 1970s, asbestos was used very widely in construction materials. For instance, certain types of home and building insulation contained asbestos, and many homes and buildings constructed prior to the 1970s still contain asbestos-containing materials. However, simply having these materials in your building does not mean that you will be exposed. To be sure, the asbestos-containing materials need to be disturbed in order to get released into the air.


If asbestos-containing materials need to be disturbed in order to be released into the air and to cause harm, you might be wondering: how do these materials get disturbed? There are two major ways that this can happen. First, asbestos-containing commercial products can degrade, as which point asbestos fibers can be released into the air. In addition, construction projects, especially renovations or demolitions, can release these harmful fibers into the air. As such, workers who are around asbestos can be particularly susceptible to developing mesothelioma.

What Kinds of Products Contain Asbestos?

The CDC explains that asbestos can still be found in some products such as automobile parts, roofing materials, and vinyl tiles. But most often, a worker who develops mesothelioma came into contact with one of the older, pre-1970s products that contained asbestos. Examples of these products include but are not limited to:

  • Boiler/heating vessels;
  • Cement pipes;
  • Automobile components, such as clutches, brakes, and transmissions;
  • Electrical wire conduits;
  • Corrosive chemical container;
  • Components for electric motors;
  • Laboratory furniture;
  • Pipe coverings;
  • Roofing materials;
  • Sealants;
  • Coatings;
  • Insulation products;
  • Various textiles (even including curtains); and
  • Certain paper products.

As workers are asked to perform jobs in homes or buildings with any of these materials, they can be exposed to asbestos. Over a prolonged period of asbestos exposure, workers can develop mesothelioma. In addition to those products listed above, there are many items that were used in homebuilding before 1975. As such, if you work on home renovations, redecorations, or demolitions, you could also be seriously injured if you are exposed to asbestos from any of the following types of products:

  • Caulking and joint compounds;
  • Ceiling tiles;
  • Floor tiles;
  • Fabrics designed to be heat-resistant;
  • Furnace insulation;
  • Hot water and/or steam pipe insulation;
  • Roofing shingles;
  • Siding shingles;
  • Textured paints;
  • Patching compounds for walls and ceilings; and
  • Walls and/or floors that were around wood-burning stoves.

When materials containing asbestos are cut, drilled, or sanded, they can even more easily release this harmful mineral into the air. As such, even seemingly harmless redecoration or renovation of an older home in Sacramento can lead to asbestos exposure. It is important to understand the risks and harms associated with this often-deadly mineral so that you can avoid it in the first place. But in the event that you are exposed to asbestos over a longer period of time and develop mesothelioma, it is important to know that I am committed to helping injured plaintiffs to seek compensation.

Contact a Sacramento Mesothelioma Lawyer

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento Mesothelioma Lawyer. In Northern California, I have advocated for many plaintiffs with mesothelioma, and I want to ensure that you and your loved ones understand how a person can develop mesothelioma, who may be liable, and what you can do to seek compensation. It is heartbreaking to meet with so many families who have been affected by a mesothelioma diagnosis, especially when this condition could have been prevented. It is difficult enough to go through extensive medical treatments or to stand by while a family member obtains cancer care. Your family should not have to deal with the financial consequences, too.

It can feel overwhelming to consider the possibility of filing a mesothelioma lawsuit at the same time you are dealing with medical treatments. I want to assure you that I am here to assist with your case every step of the way and to advocate for your right to financial compensation. I have been assisting injured plaintiffs for years, and I am here to help with your claim. If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, please call me today at 916.921.6400 for free, friendly advice. If you prefer, contact me using this online form.

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Editor’s Note: This page has been updated for accuracy and relevancy [cha 3.12.21]

:ab* [02.09.18]