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Mesothelioma is a tumour in the pleura (lining of the lungs) or the peritoneum (lining of the abdominal cavity).


Malignant mesothelioma or mesothelioma cancer is a disease caused by exposure to asbestos. In the UK about 2,500 people a year are diagnosed with mesothelioma, and although it is considered rare it is becoming more common with the number of new cases in the UK predicted not to peak for several years. Mesothelioma is a tumour in the pleura (lining of the lungs) or the peritoneum (lining of the abdominal cavity). Whether the tumour is associated with the lungs or the abdomen is usually related to inhalation or ingestion of asbestos. The average period between first exposure and diagnosis of this condition is 40 years.

Most cases of mesothelioma are caused by exposure to asbestos. It is usually found in people who suffered large exposures to asbestos, however, it has been known to occur in people who have suffered relatively light exposure. Poole Alcock has helped people with apparently relatively light exposure, successfully secure compensation.

The risk of developing mesothelioma increases in proportion to the amount of asbestos inhaled. At present there is no evidence of a threshold dose (minimum level of exposure) below which there is no risk.

As the tumour and fluid surround and compress the lung, breathlessness often occurs. This can be accompanied by chest pain, weight loss, feeling generally unwell and excessive night sweats.

Types of Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is a cancer of the mesothelium, a thin membrane that protects body cavities. As with most cancers, it comes in different forms and affects different parts of the body in different ways.

These are two main forms of mesothelioma caused by asbestos:

  • pleural – forms in the lining of the lungs
  • peritoneal – develops in the lining of the abdominal cavity

Pleural is the most common form of the disease accounting for about 9 out of 10 cases.

A third form of the disease is pericardial, being the rarest and which emerges from the lining of the heart.

How it is caused

Mesothelioma is most commonly caused as a result of exposure to asbestos, a natural material found in rock and minerals made up of fibres. It is these fibres that can become lodged in the body when inhaled or digested, causing genetic mutations and tumours. Symptoms of the disease take between 20 to 50 years to develop.

Exposure comes most typically from working in industrial occupations like construction, manufacturing or ship building. This goes some way to explain why there are five times as many cases in men as in women in the UK.

Poole Alcock have successfully represented victims of asbestos who have developed mesothelioma whilst working in a range of different jobs, trades and professions including:

lorry drivers loading and unloading asbestos products

  • joiners
  • plumbers
  • electricians
  • boiler makers

Those exposed to asbestos second hand, for example from the clothes of someone working with the material, can also develop mesothelioma. There are also rare cases where the cancer has developed as a result of living near large deposits of the material, such as mining areas.

The number of people employed in or exposed to asbestos production peaked during the 1960s, when asbestos was used in manufacturing and building on a large scale, due its strength and resistance. Although the link to asbestos and cancer was well established, even by the 1950s, it was not banned in the UK until 1999.

Depending on the cause, it may be possible to claim compensation for mesothelioma, which would cover medical costs and financial redress. Our personal injury lawyers, based in Cheshire, can advise you on doing this.

Symptoms and diagnosis

Unfortunately, symptoms of mesothelioma are notoriously difficult to detect or may be confused with other common ailments. Often patients do not experience symptoms until the tumours have spread. This makes diagnosing and treating the disease early, very difficult.

Typical symptoms include:

  • dry cough
  • pain in the chest
  • shortness of breath
  • tiredness
  • weight loss and
  • respiratory complications

Recognising any symptoms early and raising them with your doctor as soon as possible will increase the success of therapy. If you or anyone you know has even been exposed to asbestos and have these symptoms, it is worth getting checked by your doctor. All these symptoms can be caused by medical conditions other than cancer, including mesothelioma.

Poole Alcock personal injury solicitors have many years’ experience in giving legal advice to those suffering from mesothelioma, and other asbestos related diseases, across Cheshire. We can help advise you on your eligibility to claim as well and assist you in claiming for compensation.


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