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Mesothelioma Solicitors - Asbestos Compensation Claim Lawyers

LAWYER HELPLINE: ☎ 1800 633 090

Mesothelioma is a type of cancer of the pleura (tissue surrounding the lungs), or of the peritoneum (lining of the abdomen). It is usually caused by exposure to asbestos. In fact, there is a history of occupational asbestos exposure in up to 90% of mesothelioma cases.

Mean latent interval between first exposure to asbestos and death from mesothelioma is around 40 years. It is rare to find a case where the latency period is less than 10 years. Whilst all types of asbestos can cause mesothelioma, amphibole asbestos is the most potent.

If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you should seek legal advice from an expert lawyer. Our lawyers have many years experience in handling mesothelioma compensation claims, including those involving the mining industry.

Call our helpline, complete the Contact Form or send an email to speak to a meothelioma solicitor about No Win No Fee miners compensation claims.

Mesothelioma Symptoms

The early symptoms of miners mesothelioma are generally non-specific, and may lead to a delay in diagnosis. As the disease progresses the person may feel some or all of the following symptoms:

  • Chest pain
  • Breathlessness
  • Profuse sweating
  • Weight loss
  • Dry cough
  • Fever

Symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma may include pain or swelling in the abdomen due to a build-up of fluid, weight loss, bowel obstruction, nausea, anaemia, swollen feet.

    Mesothelioma Symptoms and Diagnosis Overview

    Mesothelioma is a rare type of lung cancer associated almost exclusively with exposure to asbestos, a mineral that forms fine, needle-like fibres that embed themselves in the distal lung tissue at the lining of the lungs. This then irritates the lung lining so that, over an extended period of time, cancer forms.

    Because mesothelioma generally occurs in the periphery of the lungs, it often causes few symptoms until it enters the late stages of the disease. The earliest mesothelioma symptoms include chest pain and shortness of breath. The pain, because the cancer is on the lining of the lung, can be pleuritic, meaning it is sharp and occurs with each breath. Bigger breaths cause a greater amount of pain. The shortness of breath can occur with exertion only or at rest.

    Later mesothelioma symptoms include fever and night sweats, cough, and weight loss. There is a feeling of malaise, which is the overall feeling of being unwell. If the mesothelioma happens to be in the lungs, there can be a swelling of the abdomen from the tumour or because fluid has built up in the abdominal cavity, causing a symptom called ascites. There can be a bowel blockage and abnormalities in blood clotting, which causes anaemia.

    The diagnosis of mesothelioma can be difficult because mesothelioma symptoms aren't always specific to cancer and because the tumour is difficult to see on a plain chest x-ray. It is often the shape of a pancake, with the cancer spreading around and along the lining of the lung. This is difficult to see unless one has a CT scan of the lung with contrast medium or an MRI scan of the lungs. These are 3 dimensional “x-rays” that show up the tumor more easily.

    The doctor may wish to prove the diagnosis of mesothelioma with a biopsy. Biopsy of the mesothelioma can't usually be done with a bronchoscope, which is what's used to treat ordinary cases of lung cancer because the cancer is usually too far along the bronchial tree to reach the tumor.

    Instead, a mediastinoscopy is done. This involves a camera at the end of a tube that goes from the skin into the space between the chest wall and the lung tissue, where mesothelioma usually resides. Biopsies can be taken and looked at under the microscope and will prove that a mesothelioma exists.

    In less common cases, an open lung biopsy can be done that is actually a surgery to open up the chest wall or abdominal wall if the tumour is in the abdomen. The cancer is seen visually and a biopsy is taken. In open biopsies, the cancer can be looked at under the microscope immediately and the surgery can be expanded to remove the entire tumour and surrounding normal tissue. It is not uncommon for an entire lobe of the lung plus lymph nodes to be removed.

    If the tumour proves to be a mesothelioma, then the patient goes on to have chemotherapy and radiation to the affected area. Even with aggressive therapy, only 40 percent of patients survive one year after confirmed diagnosis following observation of mesothelioma symptoms. By the end of the fourth year, only ten percent or less of patients have survived this cancer.


MRI - This technique is superior to a CT scan in determining the extent of a malignant mesothelioma particularly when the tumour invades local structures such as the ribs and the diaphragm.

Biopsy - ultrasound or CT-guided cutting needle biopsy and thoracoscopic biopsy of pleural masses have a high diagnostic yield and should be used in preference to blind biopsy techniques.

A chest x-ray and CT scan should be ordered. These will typically feature:

  • Moderate to large pleural effusion (accumulation of fluid);
  • Pleural mass or thickening without fluid;
  • Entrapment of lung resulting in small hemithorax;
  • Local invasion of chest wall, ribs, heart, mediastinum, and diaphragm, transdiaphragmatic spread and invasion of contralateral pleura.


Management of pleural effusions. Pleural effusion caused by heart failure or infection can usually be resolved by directing treatment at the cause, however, when testing has realised no diagnosis, and fluid continues to build or recur, doctors may recommend chest tube drainage and chemical pleurodesis or 'talc pleurodesis.'

Prophylactic Radiotherapy greatly reduces chest wall invasion by tumour following pleural aspiration or biopsy. Palliative radiotherapy provides pain relief in some patients.

Surgery consists of cutting open a patient and removing the majority of cancerous cells from either the lining of the lungs, abdomen or heart.

Chemotherapy is often used in conjunction with other treatment types such as radiation therapy or surgery. There are a number of mesothelioma chemotherapy drugs being used, however, none have been able to provide a successful treatment for malignant mesothelioma.

Early involvement of a pain relief and palliative care service is required.

    Mesothelioma Treatment Overview

    Mesothelioma is a cancerous condition of the lungs that is almost exclusively associated with exposure to the mineral, asbestos. Asbestos is a mineral that breaks up into microscopic fibres. Some of these fibres are needle-like and very sharp. They are microscopic in nature, easily inhaled and burrow their way into the lungs until they settle on the lining of the lung. After 20-40 years, the cancer forms and the patient gets mesothelioma.

    Mesothelioma is a particularly difficult type of cancer to treat. Even with treatment of mild disease, only about 40 percent of patients are alive at the end of one year. At the end of four years, less than 10 percent of patients will have survived their cancer.

    Mesothelioma treatment depends on how severe the disease is at the time of diagnosis. If the disease is potentially curable, more is done to eliminate the cancer and possibly save the patient's life. If the cancer is believed to be advanced and possibly metastatic to other body areas, mesotheioma treatment is palliative and designed to make the patient more comfortable.

    Surgery is the primary mesothelioma treatment which is used when it is believed that the cancer has not metastasised to other body areas. The surgeon makes an incision that enters the lung space where the cancer is localized. The cancer is removed along with a large margin of tissue around it. Lymph nodes are usually sampled to see if cancerous cells can be seen in the lymph node tissue.

    Surgery is often followed by chemotherapy in order to get rid of any remaining cancer cells within the body. It can also extend life expectancy in people who already have known metastatic disease. The most common form of chemotherapy used in mesothelioma is cisplatin, which more recently has been mixed with pemetrexed, another form of chemotherapeutic treatment. The combination can achieve a remission of the disease or can prolong the life of a patient who has known metastatic disease. Chemotherapy is often done in doses over several weeks while the doctors watch for any signs of advancing disease.

    Radiation is the application of intense radio waves directly to the cancerous tissue. It is done when the cancerous tumor was not completely removed or when lymph nodes are involved and the doctor wants to direct radiation to the lymph node area. Radiation can be used after surgery and can be used along with chemotherapeutic treatments to rid the body of cancer cells. Radiation therapy is often used as palliative therapy because it is not invasive and is usually well tolerated, especially in patients who are already frail with cancer.

    There are a number of emerging therapies used as mesothelioma treatment. Immunotherapy has been used successfully in other cancers and is being studied for mesothelioma. Immunotherapy is designed to make the immune system stronger so it can fight off cancer cells. It is a way of tricking our own immune system so that it attacks cancer cells and not normal cells.

    Photodynamic therapy provides photosensitizing drugs to the tumour and then exposes the tumour to lights, killing the tumour using light. Genetic therapy is also being developed as a means of mesothelioma treatment.


Median survival for persons with mesothelioma is poor, varying 8 to 14 months in different studies. Prognosis is better with the epithelial type when compared with the fibrous type mesothelioma.

Pleural Mesothelioma Overview

Pleural mesothelioma is a malignant lung cancer and the most common type of mesothelioma (about 2/3 of all cases of mesothelioma). It is called "pleural" mesothelioma because it affects the lining or "pleura" of the lung, which is the membrane that surrounds the lung tissue and the lining of the chest wall.

Pleural mesothelioma is almost exclusively a cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. It takes at least 20-30 years from the time of exposure until the lung cancer develops so it pays to talk to your doctor if you've been exposed to asbestos in the past. It is otherwise a difficult disease to diagnose without regular check-ups to show the presence or absence of the tumor.

Pleural mesothelioma occurs because the patient has inhaled microscopic needle-like fibres of asbestos that burrow through the air-carrying parts of the lung and settle on the lining of the lung. There they cannot be coughed out and set up inflammation in the pleural lining that eventually becomes cancerous. The connection between getting mesothelioma and inhaling asbestos was not apparent until the 1960s. In the meantime, people had been inhaling the substance since the 1800s.

Pleural mesothelioma symptoms aren't very specific and the same symptoms can be due to other lung conditions. The most common symptoms include shortness of breath and a cough. You can cough up blood or sputum. There can be chest pain that is located where the cancer is or be referred to the abdomen, arm or shoulder. These two symptoms are the most common ones found in the disease.

Other symptoms you might see in pleural mesothelioma include weight loss that is unexplained, a pleural effusion, which is a pocket of fluid building up between the various linings of the lung and chest wall, and night sweats, a common symptom of cancer.

Pleural mesothelioma is a relatively rare type of cancer so there aren't routine screening tests for the disease unless the individual has a strong history of asbestos exposure. Often, symptoms are present for many months before the patient seeks medical attention for the diagnosis of the disease. Doctors will do a complete history and physical examination and will do a chest x-ray. Unfortunately, unless there is a pleural effusion (collection of fluid), the chest x-ray alone may not show the tumour, which is often the shape of a pancake - thin and round.

The best tests for a pleural mesothelioma are the CT scan of the lungs with IV contrast and the MRI of the lungs. These provide three dimensional images of the lung tissue and can show up the tumours much more easily than a two dimensional x-ray. MRI and CT scans can show the size and shape of pleural mesotheliomas and can tell whether or not the cancer has metastasized to nearby or distant lymph nodes. These tests can also tell whether or not there are pleural effusions present.

Doctors can then do a thoracentesis, which is a test that can biopsy the suspicious area and can help confirm the presence or absence of a cancerous tumour.

The treatment of pleural mesothelioma involves surgery if it is felt the cancer is resectable. Radiation and chemotherapy can be done to direct treatment against the cancer cells.

Peritoneal Mesothelioma Overview

Peritoneal mesothelioma is actually a rare cancer unless you have been exposed to asbestos sometime in your life. It stems from the body’s exposure to asbestos, a mineral that breaks down into microscopic needle-like fibres that collect onto the lining of the lung, the heart or the peritoneum.

When the asbestos fibres settle in the peritoneum, which is lining of most of the abdominal structures such as the liver, fatty tissue of the abdomen and the gastrointestinal tract, a cancer can form on the lining tissue. This is what is referred to as peritoneal mesothelioma. The cancer is so rare that it affects only about five hundred people in the US each year.

Overall pleural mesothelioma is more common. It affects the lining of the lungs. Pericardial mesothelioma is also more common than peritoneal mesothelioma. Of all types of mesothelioma, peritoneal mesothelioma makes up about 20 percent of all cases of the cancer.

So how do asbestos fibres, normally breathed in by workers, get into the lining of the abdominal wall? It is believed that these fibres get to the abdominal wall by one of two ways. Asbestos may be ingested and may go through the digestive tract, ending up through the tissues until the fibres end up on the lining of the stomach or other abdominal tissues. On the other hand, malignant pleural mesothelioma has a tendency to end up on the lining of other tissues, including the peritoneum through the process of metastasis.

Asbestos is not a problem everyone has to worry about. It was primarily used in the construction industry, the boatyard industry, steel mills, naval shipyards and power plants. Men and women who came in contact with asbestos, which has been banned for many uses since 1975, are at the highest risk for all types of mesothelioma, including peritoneal mesothelioma.

It takes several years post-exposure to get peritoneal mesothelioma. Depending on the degree of exposure, the cancer can occur as little as 10 years or as much as 40 years post-exposure. This means that, since the ban occurred 35 or more years ago, there should be a reduction in the risk of the disease.

Peritoneal mesothelioma is very difficult to diagnose. The symptoms include weight loss and abdominal pain or an increase in fluid in the abdominal cavity. A CT scan or MRI scan can be done to show tumour mass or peritoneal effusion and a biopsy of the tumour can prove the existence of peritoneal mesothelioma.

While there is treatment for peritoneal mesothelioma, the prognosis is poor and many die of the disease. Even so, doctors attempt chemotherapy and radiation, often as palliative therapy to prolong the lives of those who have the disease. A few patients who have localized disease are candidates for surgery; however, most patients do not actually get better from surgery alone. Some surgical choices are to remove large parts of the peritoneum, including the tumour. Those with stage I disease can have a prolongation of their life; few would have a cure.

Chemotherapy for peritoneal mesothelioma includes Alimta and Cisplatin, although many clinical trials are under way to find better treatments for these types of patients.

LAWYER HELPLINE: ☎ 1800 633 090