Mesothelioma is an incurable asbestos related cancer which affects hundreds of people each year. A large portion of this group are residents of Western Australia owing to our heavy use of James Hardie’s asbestos cement building products and the Australian Blue Asbestos’s mine in Wittenoom.

Being diagnosed with mesothelioma can be a very overwhelming and emotional time with doctors querying when you were exposed to asbestos and whether you would like to undergo treatment.  Below are the answers to some commonly asked questions to assist you in learning more about your condition:-

What is mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is a type pf cancer that generally develops in the pleura of the lung and lines the inside of the chest wall. A similar disease process also commonly occurs in the abdomen.

What causes mesothelioma?

There is only 1 known cause of mesothelioma and that is asbestos exposure.

Are there different types of mesothelioma?

Yes there are.  There are several types of mesothelioma the most common being pleural mesothelioma which affects the lining of the lung and peritoneal mesothelioma which affects the lining of the abdomen.  Mesothelioma of the heart and testes are less common.  It is important to recognise that mesothelioma is not the same as asbestosis, diffuse pleural fibrosis, pleural thickening or pleural plaques.  These are all benign asbestos diseases but can also cause impairment in their own right.

What is my prognosis and is there any treatment?

Prognosis varies person to person depending upon the type of mesothelioma they suffer from, their other non-asbestos related conditions and what treatment a person decides to undergo. There are a number of treatments available the most common being chemotherapy (such as with Cisplatin and Pemetrexed) and/or immunotherapy (such as with Pembrolizumab also known as Keytruda).

What are some of the warning signs of mesothelioma?

Sufferers of mesothelioma often develop symptoms before they are diagnosed with this rare cancer. Sufferers often develop shortness of breath, chest pain (also sometimes back and shoulder pain), a cough, night sweats, insomnia, reduced appetite and weight loss.

What should I do if I have been exposed to asbestos and have any of the above symptoms?

You should consult with your general practitioner and request a high resolution CT scan. The results of this scan will show the doctor whether there is any fluid in your lung/s (called a pleural effusion) or pleural thickening. These abnormalities in the lung are what cause a person to suffer from breathlessness and chest pain. If the doctor sees fluid in your lung they will likely refer you for a pleural aspiration and if necessary a pleural biopsy. A pathologist will then look at the sample taken from the aspiration or biopsy and make a diagnosis.

If I am unlucky enough to be diagnosed with mesothelioma, am I entitled to compensation?

Almost all mesothelioma sufferers are entitled to compensation. Certainly, no compensation will give you back your health however, it will provide you with the financial means to afford the care and medical treatment you deserve.  We understand the financial burden on a sufferer can be enormous and this is why we act on a “no win, no fee” basis covering the cost of all disbursements (including court filing fees and medical reports). This allows you to continue to focus on your health and other ongoing expenses.

If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos disease please do not hesitate to contact Alana at our Perth office for an obligation free discussion about your disease and compensation entitlements.