Pursuance of a mesothelioma claim is attendant upon medical diagnosis when seeking asbestos advice. Given the long latency periods – of up to 40 years or more – the earlier a thorough examination can take place in the first stage of the process, the better the likelihood of a more positive outcome.
The first sign of asbestosis symptoms as a result of asbestos exposure can be ‘water on the lung’- known as a pleural effusion . Unfortunately, due to a possible lack of asbestos awareness , or deliberately withheld information by employers, many exposed workers may never realise they have the symptoms.
There is normally a small quantity (about 3 to 4 teaspoons) of fluid spread thinly over the visceral and parietal pleura and which acts as a lubricant between the two membranes. Any significant increase in the quantity of pleural fluid is a pleural effusion
It can occur many times. With some patients the sticky “water” causes the linings of the lung and chest cavity to stick/fuse together. This results in what is called diffuse pleural thickening.
When there is diffuse pleural thickening, the linings stick together and the lungs cannot move freely in the chest cavity, usually resulting in some degree of functional lung capacity loss – reduced ability to exchange oxygen. Thus, even without scarring of the lungs – known as asbestosis – the diffuse pleural thickening can make breathing more difficult and lessens ability to function in everyday activities.
The most common symptoms are usually chest pain and difficulty in breathing. Many pleural effusions cause no symptoms but are discovered during the physical examination or seen on a chest X-ray.
In seventy percent or more of all mesothelioma cases, the cancer develops in the visceral pleura as inhaled asbestos fibres have worked their way through the lung wall and into the outer lining. As time passes, the fibres become an irritant and eventually cause the growth of deformed malignant cells that begin reproducing at an uncontrollable rate.
It is the attack on the mesothelial cells which causes pleural effusion, a principal symptom of mesothelioma cancer. The malformed cells cause the pleural surfaces to thicken and thus, an excess of fluid develops between them.