In the United States, asbestos exposure and mesothelioma may be a life changing and devastating diagnosis. The disease usually develops over a period of time, where a person who is exposed to asbestos develops mesothelioma, a malignant form of cancer. Once mesothelioma is diagnosed, recovery is challenging and treatment options may not be adequate. While most people develop the disease in their 40’s, mesothelioma can also be developed in individuals as young as 15, with very little warning.
In Illinois, mesothelioma is covered under the Illinois Worker’s Compensation program. This coverage applies to any worker who is employed or may have been employed within the state of Illinois, who suffers from mesothelioma. In addition to Illinois Worker’s Compensation, there are no additional worker’s compensation or worker’s compensation laws in Illinois. This means that if you are diagnosed with mesothelioma in Illinois and have not worked in the state of Illinois, there are no additional Illinois worker’s compensation benefits or remedies available to you.
What are Mesothelioma and Asbestos?
Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that arises from cells that line your chest and abdomen. These cells are known as mesothelium cells and they line your lungs, heart, stomach, and many other areas of your body. While asbestos can cause an extensive list of medical problems, one of its most serious diseases is mesothelioma. When people think of asbestos they think of a black color. Unfortunately, this color and the fact that it is brittle are the reason that asbestos exposure can be such a serious problem.
Even though many products and building materials contain asbestos, that does not mean that it is not harmful to your health. Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that is found in many minerals and building materials.
Asbestos is most commonly known for its use in insulation, roofing, and flooring. If asbestos is released into the air, it can be dangerous. People can come in contact with asbestos in many different ways, such as:
Occupational exposures: Occupational exposures to asbestos are rare but can cause a serious and life threatening illness called mesothelioma. These exposures may be the result of work such as working with insulation products, mining, shipbuilding, construction, textiles and electronics. Individuals who are exposed to asbestos in these jobs need to be identified as a high risk group and treated with special care.
In these circumstances, mesothelioma is most likely to be a disease of the pleura, the thin membranes that line the lungs and cover the lungs in the chest. This type of mesothelioma is also called pleural mesothelioma.
Inhalation: Exposure to airborne asbestos can cause mesothelioma. People who work in the construction and manufacturing industries can be exposed to airborne asbestos. Workers exposed to the dust from asbestos can also be at risk for asbestos-related illnesses. A doctor will be able to test a sample of your blood or your breath to find out if you have been exposed to asbestos.
Actions you can take: Although the most common cause of mesothelioma is through inhalation of asbestos dust, exposure to other forms of asbestos such as textile fibers, roofing shingles, and cement can also be dangerous. There is no way to know for sure if you have been exposed to asbestos until you are examined by a doctor. If you believe that you have been exposed to asbestos, you should contact your doctor immediately.
Once you are diagnosed with mesothelioma, your doctor will give you the opportunity to undergo medical treatment as well as treatments to your lifestyle. Once you are identified as a high risk group, you can be enrolled in a clinical trial and the side effects of treatment may be reduced. If you choose to enroll in a clinical trial, your physician and insurance company will work together to make sure that you are able to afford treatment and that it is necessary. If you don’t take part in clinical trials, there are several treatment options that can be used to treat mesothelioma.
Treatments for Mesothelioma
Surgery: Mesothelioma treatment options for mesothelioma include surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. The type of treatment a person receives is based on their risk level. A physician will evaluate your mesothelioma risk level based on your symptoms and medical history. They will also determine if you are a high risk group and are eligible for a clinical trial.
Surgery: If you are a low risk mesothelioma patient, your physician may recommend surgery to remove the affected tissues and any scar tissue. During surgery, the surgeon will also remove any lymph nodes that are affected. They will also perform biopsies of any suspicious tissue to determine if mesothelioma has developed. The goal of surgery is to remove the affected tissue and if mesothelioma is present, this will also be removed. There is also a small chance that the affected tissue is misdiagnosed, and mesothelioma is not present.
Radiation Therapy: Radiation therapy uses x-rays and is often used to treat mesothelioma. Your physician will use this type of therapy to try to stop the growth of the cancer cells. Radiation therapy will reduce the risk of your cancer cells dividing and spreading. Radiation therapy can be used as an alternative to surgery, or to treat the symptoms caused by mesothelioma.
Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is a drug that is used to destroy cancer cells.