A story about a 23 year old UK woman battling malignant mesothelioma recently made international news. Danielle Smalley was diagnosed with a type of mesothelioma that comes from ingesting asbestos, the now-known carcinogen that leads to the disease. Though Ms. Smalley and her family are unsure where she could’ve eaten asbestos, it is believed that the disease typically takes 20 years to show symptoms, meaning she was just a toddler when the incident or incidents happened. She says they have ruled out her elementary school as a possibility, but that it could’ve happened at a friend’s house or anywhere else. Danielle is only one of 3 under 25 years old that has been diagnosed with the disease in the last decade. Danielle is scheduled to have tumors surgically removed, an operation that also involves receiving ‘hot chemo.’ Hot chemotherapy is the bathing of organs in chemotherapeutic medicine to kill cancerous tumors. Treatment will leave Danielle infertile at just 23 years old.
What is Malignant Mesothelioma?
According to the American Cancer Society, mesothelioma originates in the cells of the abdomen, chest, the area around the heart (rare), or the area surrounding the testicles (very rare). Organs and the aforementioned areas of the body are covered by cells that join together to form a lining referred to as mesothelium. Cells that turn cancerous in this lining are called mesothelioma (specifically malignant mesothelioma).
The cancer is especially unique in that doctors and researchers have identified a cause that changes normally healthy cells into malignant mesothelioma in the lungs. This is referred to as pleural mesothelioma and is the type of cancer that you frequently see mentioned in tv commercials for lawsuits. It is the most commonly diagnosed form of mesothelioma and is caused by exposure to asbestos. Asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral found in rocks and soil, can be extremely dangerous to your health. Although commercial use of asbestos is falling out of favor, it is still found in building materials and those who worked or currently work on construction sites, shipyards, as plumbers, on railroads and at power plants are considered to be at the greatest risk. According to the American Cancer Society, “Mesothelioma is much more common in men than in women. This is probably because men have been more likely to work in jobs with heavy exposure to asbestos.”
This is why you see so many attorney commercials about mesothelioma: The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has been warning companies about the dangers of asbestos since the 1970s and imposed regulations surrounding their use. Namely, all companies who use these materials must notify their employees of the risk, provide medical examinations before and after exposure that exceeds the acceptable limit, and give workers special protective equipment to minimize their risk. Many who discover they have mesothelioma were never made aware that they had been exposed to it by their employer.
Levin & Perconti: Chicago, Illinois Mesothelioma Attorneys
While Danielle Smalley’s diagnosis at age 23 was extremely rare, it reminds the public of the dangers of asbestos exposure and how long symptoms take to present. If you believe you were unknowingly exposed to asbestos on the job or were told of the presence of asbestos and not provided special equipment to protect yourself and have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you may have a lawsuit against your current or former employer. The mesothelioma attorneys at Levin & Perconti are here to answer any questions you may have before deciding to take legal action. Our consultations are free and confidential and are always completed by a licensed personal injury attorney. Please call us at 312-332-2872 or complete our online consultation request form.