If you've been diagnosed with an asbestos-related illness, there is hope. As with most conditions, your diagnosis—whether it be mesothelioma, lung cancer, ovarian cancer, or laryngeal cancer—determines your next course of action.
"For diagnosed cancers, one should seek advice from an oncologist or perhaps a surgeon, depending on the type of cancer," says Dr. Arthur Frank, who specializes in occupational lung diseases including those related to asbestos exposure. "For asbestosis, one might see a pulmonary specialist, or an occupational physician with experience in dealing with asbestos diseases. For some diseases, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) might have an appropriate clinical trial at their cancer center. Some hospitals around the U.S. have special expertise dealing with asbestos-related cancers, especially mesothelioma."
From medical treatments to legal options, here are resources available to people with asbestos-related illness.
Depending on diagnosis and prognosis, a number of treatment options are available if you have an asbestos-related illness.
- Surgery—Surgeons will work to remove the tumor before it grows and spreads. Lung tissue or an entire lung may also be removed during this procedure as well.
- Radiation—This process utilizes high-energy beams to kill off remaining cancer cells following surgery while preventing them from growing and spreading.
- Chemotherapy—This is the use of drugs and chemicals to try and combat the tumor. The chemicals target the cancer in the hopes of shrinking and/or slowing its growth.
We've all seen the commercials regarding asbestos exposure and mesothelioma. Because asbestos was mostly used following World War II—and the links to many illnesses including mesothelioma were discovered much later—many people exposed were unaware of the dangers these minerals and their microfibers could pose. There is a latency period ranging from 15 to 30 or even 40 years between exposure and exhibiting symptoms.
There are plenty of legal options available to take, including through Mesothelioma.com, which has been helping patients since 1996. Mesothelioma Veterans Center has been assisting U.S. vets, who account for 30% of malignant mesothelioma diagnoses as a result of asbestos exposure.
You can file a personal injury claim with compensation cited for medical expenses, loss of wages or income, and pain and suffering sustained as a result of asbestos exposure.
Wrongful death claims can be filed by family members after a victim passes away due to an asbestos-related death; the average survival following mesothelioma diagnosis is approximately one year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Compensation can help pay for medical bills, funeral costs or loss of income due to untimely death.
It can take a heavy toll on your mental and emotional health whether it's your or someone you know dealing with asbestos-related illness.
There are plenty of groups that can lend a helping hand while providing support and more information during this process, including the American Cancer Society and Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization.
The American Cancer Society offers interactive resource guides for caregivers as well as support videos to help family members and caregivers so they don't forget about taking care of themselves as they support someone they love.
This sense of community and support provided by these support groups is not only beneficial to those diagnosed with asbestos-related illness but also to their friends and family.
Support group benefits include:
- Providing hope and inspiration
- A sense of community so you don't feel alone
- Are a supportive and empathetic network
- Reduction of stress of diagnosis