Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.

Can early detection of Mesothelioma save lives?

Doctors have been debating whether earlier detection of mesothelioma would save lives. Some say that early detection of any cancer is vital. Others say that there is no proof that detecting mesothelioma earlier would increase the chance of survival from this deadly form of cancer.

This is because it can take at least a decade, and even up to 50 years, for a person to start having symptoms of mesothelioma after exposure to asbestos. Once symptoms begin showing, life expectancy is usually under a year and a half. Even if it was detected before symptoms arose, there is no current evidence showing that any sort of chemotherapy or radiation would help. Unlike other cancers, every single mesothelioma tumor is diffuse, which means it is difficult to eradicate the cancer from the body.

Furthermore, there are currently few tools to help diagnose mesothelioma earlier. If a tool was found that was minimally invasive, it would have to be used on a large portion of the population since asbestos was all over the place in the U.S. prior to the 21st century. And this could lead to false positives. "The population at-risk is huge. The number of people who actually develop the disease is small," the director of the Thoracic Oncology Gene Therapy Program at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, Dr. Daniel Sterman, said.

If mesothelioma were detected earlier, however, there would be a greater chance that the victim would see some of the recovery from an asbestos lawsuit. Today, the victim often passes away before a judgment is declared. Thankfully, the statute of limitations on mesothelioma and other asbestos lawsuits does not begin to run until the illness is detected. This means that a person who discovers that he or she was exposed to asbestos decades after the exposure can still bring a lawsuit.

Hopefully, mesothelioma will be detected earlier someday and it will have some impact on treatment. Until then, if you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you may be able to hold the company that caused your asbestos exposure liable.

Source: Asbestos.com, "Doctors Debate Success of Earlier Mesothelioma Diagnosis," Tim Povtak, Aug. 8, 2012.

Learn more about asbestos exposure by reading our pages on asbestos and mesothelioma.

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Pittsburgh, PA 15222

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