Mesothelioma Lawyers Serving Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse, NY

According to the New York State Department of Health, about 200 new mesothelioma cases are diagnosed in the state each year. While the health department considers this to be a rare disease, it is deadly. The American Cancer Society indicates an 18% survival rate for five years after the disease is diagnosed. And that’s the best-case scenario.

The lawyers at Lipsitz, Ponterio & Comerford LLC have decades of experience providing mesothelioma legal services to victims in Buffalo, Syracuse, Rochester, and areas across New York State. If you’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma, we’d be honored to help you.

What is Mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is a deadly form of cancer that attacks the lining of the lungs, abdomen, and other vital organs of the body. The only known cause of this disease is asbestos, which is a fiber that cannot be absorbed by the human body.

Mesothelioma Lawyers Serving Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse, NY

This toxic fiber is commonly found in a wide variety of products, and although laws have become stricter since the 1970s, asbestos is still not banned in the United States.

About 3,000 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma across the country each year, and the majority of those who are diagnosed do not survive another full year. Mesothelioma is referred to as a latent disease. It often remains hidden for  20 or more years after exposure, which means that it’s not always caught early enough to be treated.

There are four primary places where mesothelioma can be centered. These include:

  • The lungs (pleural mesothelioma)
  • The abdomen (peritoneal mesothelioma)
  • The heart (pericardial mesothelioma)
  • The testes

While the last two are quite rare, each goes through four distinct stages: Limited, localized, generalized, and full-body affliction.

Mesothelioma of the Lungs

Pleural mesothelioma affects the lining of the lungs. About 75% of mesothelioma cases are of this type and it is often misdiagnosed as lung cancer.

Some of the symptoms of this disease include:

  • Persistent coughing
  • Chest tightness and pain
  • Trouble breathing
  • Problems swallowing
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Pain in the shoulders and upper back

When pleural mesothelioma is diagnosed early, the cancer might not have a chance to spread further than the lungs. This means that it could be treatable with surgery. Patients who begin treatment at Stage 1 have the longest life expectancy.

Mesothelioma of the Abdomen

Peritoneal mesothelioma occurs when the cancer affects the lining of your abdominal cavity. This is where your primary organs are, including the stomach and intestines.

Symptoms include:

  • Swelling of the abdomen
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Blood in vomit
  • Blood in stool
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Fatigue
  • Night sweats
  • Appetite loss

Peritoneal mesothelioma can take 20 or more years to develop. It is caused by breathing in or swallowing asbestos particles.

This disease can be easily missed or misdiagnosed because the symptoms are similar to other digestive disorders, such as Crohn’s disease or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

If you or a loved one has been misdiagnosed, you may have cause for a medical malpractice claim. Talk to the attorneys at Lipsitz, Ponterio & Comerford, LLC, to learn more.

Mesothelioma of the Heart

Pericardial mesothelioma is the rarest form of mesothelioma, and it develops in the lining around the heart. People diagnosed with this form of the cancer rarely live more than six months.

Symptoms can include heart murmurs, palpitations, and irregular heartbeat.

Mesothelioma of the Testes

Testicular mesothelioma happens when the disease develops in the lining of the testes. It is quite rare and can include symptoms such as testicle swelling and inflammation of the lining of the testicles. Patients diagnosed with this form of cancer may live two to three years with proper treatment.

What Causes Mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is a signature tumor caused by prior asbestos exposure.  Asbestos is a natural mineral fiber that has been used in millions of household and commercial products. This material cannot be absorbed by the body.

Exposure commonly happens through breathing or swallowing particles of asbestos that are present in the air.

Asbestos has been used since the 1970s in all kinds of building materials and consumer products. It is in wall boards, plumbing insulation, housing insulation, roof shingles, vehicle brakes, electrical products, and much more.

As such, the highest concentration of mesothelioma cancer is found in blue-collar workers, trade workers, and veterans who have routinely worked with asbestos-infested materials.

Examples include:

Military veterans and civilian contractors are at high risk if they worked in naval shipyards or aboard navy vessels prior to the late 1970s, as asbestos products were liberally used by the government during that time period.

Secondary risk factors include exposure as a family member of these workers or residing near an asbestos mine.

Many companies knew how dangerous the mineral was, yet actively worked to hide that information from the government and the general public through the late 1970s. Even 50 years later, asbestos is still allowed to be used in the United States.

That is why the legal team at Lipsitz, Ponterio & Comerford fights so hard to help mesothelioma victims and their families to get the compensation they deserve.

How Can Mesothelioma Be Treated?

The first step in treatment is to get the disease diagnosed properly. If you have symptoms of mesothelioma and you believe you were exposed to asbestos, get a medical opinion.

Medical specialists can run blood tests, examine fluid extracted from afflicted areas, and conduct a CT scan to determine whether there are tumors present in your body. You are normally diagnosed with mesothelioma by a biopsy, a surgical procedure in which the surgeon takes a piece of your tumor tissue and tests it for mesothelioma.

The treatment of mesothelioma depends on many factors such as location of the cancer, the stage of the disease, patient’s age and overall health of the patient. Standard treatment options can include surgery, chemotherapy and radiation procedures, and/or a combination of these therapies depending on each patient’s circumstance.

Surgery is an option for patients who are in relatively good health when the disease is diagnosed early enough. Treatment includes physically removing cancerous tumors from the body, which may allow the patient to live a long and healthy life. Treatment includes pleurectomy/decortication, which is a surgical removal of the pleura, the lining of the lungs. Another surgical procedure is extra-pleural pneumonectomy, which is the removal of the pleura as well as the entire lung and in some cases, partial removal of the diaphragm and pericardium. This is a radical treatment and should only be done by a medical center that specializes in this type of treatment.

Chemotherapy is an option for patients who do not want surgery or have contraindications for a surgical procedure. Chemotherapy is a drug treatment plan designed to destroy the cancer cells and prevent them from spreading. Drugs are placed directly in the bloodstream. For mesothelioma, the goal of chemotherapy is not to cure the cancer, but to shrink the tumors and prevent the spread of the disease. Drugs that have proven useful include doxorubicin, gemcitabine, cisplatin, carboplatin, epirubicin, cyclophosphamide, ifosfamide, vinorelbine, paclitaxel, and methotrexate.

Radiation is another option to target and kill cancer cells. This technique can have the unfortunate side effect of killing healthy cells, too, along with many other symptoms. Intense x-rays are used to shrink tumors and destroy cancer cells. Radiation is effective for treating localized tumors and relieving pain, but can be difficult to use without causing further damage to the lungs, heart, and liver.

Combining therapy methods is a common tactic for treatment of many mesothelioma patients. Combination therapy involves using two or more of the treatments simultaneously in an attempt to improve the odds of success.

How Does Mesothelioma Progress?

Mesothelioma is often missed or misdiagnosed. Some victims have gone through many incorrect diagnoses before finally discovering what was wrong. Because of these compounded problems, many patients do not live more than one year after being diagnosed.

With that said, there are four stages of progression that a patient might experience.

If a patient is diagnosed early, in the first stage of the disease, the cancer hasn’t had a chance to spread further than the initial site (lungs, abdomen, heart, testes). In some cases, the condition can be treated with surgery. Patients who begin treatment at this stage have the longest life expectancy.

Stage 2 happens when the cancer has begun to spread further than the initially affected site. Stage 3 mesothelioma occurs when the organs are affected.

Stage 4 mesothelioma is the term used to describe a spread of cancer throughout a patient’s body. Prognosis is usually poor at this stage, with an average life expectancy of one year after diagnosis.

What Is Asbestos and How Are People Exposed to It?

Asbestos is actually a naturally-occurring fibrous mineral that has been used since the stone age.

There are six different types of asbestos fibers, and each one releases microscopic dust into the air when moved around, rubbed, or otherwise utilized. This dust is like a miniature crystal substance that is quite toxic to the human body. It is known to cause cancer, specifically mesothelioma, in major organs.

Because of its heat-resistant properties, asbestos was widely used across the United States in building materials until the late 1970s.

Some of the building products it was used in include:

You might be surprised at the long list of known asbestos products. Despite how toxic this substance is, it is still a risk in Buffalo, Syracuse, Rochester, and other parts of the state today.

When asbestos products were installed, repaired, maintained, renovated or removed, the asbestos was scraped, cut, sanded, or mixed with other products, such as cement. These processes created asbestos dust, which was then breathed in by workers. Asbestos dust remains airborne for weeks, affecting those who worked directly with asbestos, as well as those who simply worked nearby. When an area is swept, the dust is stirred up and airborne again. One cloud of dust contains millions or billions of asbestos fibers.

According to the New York Department of Labor, the biggest risk of exposure to asbestos is to blue-collar workers. Skilled tradesmen and women are at risk of asbestos exposure every day, both due to the products they used and where they worked.

Any trade specialist who works on residential or commercial buildings that were built before 1980 is likely at risk. This includes:

  • Roofers
  • Carpenters
  • Plumbers
  • Electricians
  • Drywall hangers
  • General contractors
  • Handymen
  • Landscapers

Military veterans, particularly Navy veterans, are, particularly at risk. The U.S. government used asbestos products liberally both on ships and in shipyards, exposing military and civilian personnel to potentially high levels of this toxic substance.

Even though the asbestos risk was discovered in the late ‘70s and changes began to take place, there are still thousands of buildings in this country that were built before then. If someone buys an older home and begins renovations unknowingly, they may be exposed to asbestos.

While asbestos is most commonly found in the workplace and older buildings, there are an inordinate number of everyday household items that put people at risk. One particular menace is talc.

Talcum powder is used in items such as:

  • Baby powder
  • Face powder
  • Bath powder
  • Paint
  • Rubber
  • Fertilizer
  • Pesticide
  • Plastics
  • Wires
  • Tableware

Talc is even in some foods and food processing. Due to the extensive use of this toxic substance in so many household names, there are many lawsuits against companies for defective products.

Lipsitz, Ponterio & Comerford, LLC specializes in helping victims of asbestos exposure in lawsuits like these.

Diagnosis and Misdiagnosis

One of the biggest problems with asbestos exposure is that symptoms often do not develop for over 20 years. And since those symptoms are similar to those of other syndromes and diseases, the cancer is not often caught early enough to treat it effectively.

The symptoms of abdomen cancer include pain, swelling, and fatigue. The condition can often be mistaken for more modern medical issues, including:

  • Crohn’s disease
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Leaky gut syndrome
  • Gluten intolerance
  • Stress or anxiety

Pleural mesothelioma is often mistaken for other types of lung cancer, even when a patient has never smoked cigarettes a day in their lives.

If you’ve worked jobs where you suspect or know you were exposed to asbestos, you owe it to yourself to get a second or third opinion when you have related medical problems.

Mesothelioma is an expensive disease to treat, and it can leave you and your family devastated very quickly. Lipsitz, Ponterio & Comerford, LLC can help review your circumstances and work with you to get the compensation you deserve.

Can I Sue for Asbestos Exposure?

If you’ve been a victim of asbestos exposure, you may have legal recourse. Some of the avenues you might pursue include class actions, product liability claims, workers’ compensation, malpractice cases, or wrongful death claims.

Please be advised that New York State imposes strict limitations to file a lawsuit for mesothelioma. The statute of limitations for a personal injury action based on asbestos exposure and disease requires that an action be commenced within three years of the date of diagnosis. In the case of death, an action for wrongful death must be filed within two years of the date of death, or the claim is barred. However, the statute of limitations often depends on the particular facts of your case. Time is of the essence, which is why it is important to contact an attorney as soon as possible.

May I still file a case if I’m a smoker?

YES. Smoking is not a cause of mesothelioma or asbestosis. Only asbestos exposure can cause these illnesses. Asbestos and cigarette smoke can work together to cause lung cancer and smoking can increase your chances of developing lung cancer.

How Can I Get Help?

There are a number of different options for help for people with mesothelioma, as well as for families who have had loved ones die from the disease. Here are some of the ways that you can seek emotional and financial help.

Get More Information

Make sure you’re making informed decisions about your specific situation by gathering all of the information you can. Get our free book about mesothelioma to learn more about this disease, its causes, and ways we can help.

Join a Support Group

A variety of in-person and online support groups exist to provide emotional support. Families who have lost loved ones to this disease may find comfort in mesothelioma grief groups. Those who suffer from the disease can find patient and survivor support groups.

File for Workers’ Compensation

From a financial standpoint, if you were exposed to asbestos through your job, you may qualify for a workers’ compensation claim. Workers’ compensation is insurance that protects you if you’re injured, made ill, or killed while working. Lipsitz, Ponterio & Comerford, LLC is one of the few law firms in New York State operating in the area of mesothelioma and asbestos-related lung cancer to have a Workers’ Compensation Attorney on staff ready to assist in the filing of a claim for disability benefits or death.

Mesothelioma is an illness that results from asbestos exposure. Most mesothelioma cases result from occupational exposure. If your claim is approved, workers’ compensation will pay for all of your related medical bills.

Examples include:

  • Hospital bills
  • Doctor bills
  • Medical tests and scans
  • Prescriptions
  • Surgeries
  • Medical devices

It may also pay for income that you’ve lost from being sick, pay for reeducation or rehabilitation, or help to contribute toward your living expenses.

Get a Free Consultation

Since 1995, the attorneys at Lipsitz, Ponterio & Comerford LLC have been helping clients in Buffalo, Rochester,  Syracuse, and across New York State, who have been injured due to asbestos exposure. Through our tireless efforts, we have made an impact on reforming asbestos laws throughout the state of New York. We have a full team of lawyers devoted to representing people exposed to asbestos with mesothelioma.

If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, please contact us today and we will schedule an appointment to come to your home and meet with you and your family to explain your legal rights.

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