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Asbestos’ Legacy: Ovarian Cancer and Mesothelioma


Learning that you or a loved one has cancer can be a devastating diagnosis. If you have been told you have ovarian cancer, you should get a second opinion! You may have mesothelioma—cancer of the lining of the abdominal cavity, caused by long-term exposure to asbestos.

Although often associated with the lungs, mesothelioma can also affect the abdominal cavity, the heart, the stomach, and more rarely, the testicles. Because the treatment for mesothelioma is different from the treatment for ovarian cancer, and because being treated for a different kind of cancer will not slow the spread of mesothelioma, it’s imperative that you be sure that your diagnosis is accurate—especially if you’ve been diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

The urgency of identifying or ruling out mesothelioma if ovarian cancer is suspected is complicated by the fact that the form of mesothelioma that affects the abdomen is extremely rare compared to other forms of cancer—most doctors won’t encounter more than two or three cases over the course of their careers.

There is no cure for mesothelioma. It may seem as though there is nowhere to turn, and no one who can help you. A mesothelioma attorney may be able to provide some assistance—if not to restore your health, at least to ensure that the company responsible for your illness pays for the care and treatment you need, extending your life for as long as possible—in some cases over a decade or more.

At Slater & Zurz LLP, we take your health and safety seriously. We will review your case to determine whether you may be entitled to compensation from an employer, the manufacturer(s) of asbestos products to which you or a loved one was exposed, and governmental entities are responsible for your military service-related exposure to asbestos. Call us to schedule a free consultation, during which we will review your claim, answer your questions, and recommend the best path forward.

Mesothelioma is a result of long-term exposure to asbestos.

Asbestos exposure—generally over a period of time—is the primary cause of mesothelioma. In the past decade, asbestos has been recognized as a significant cause of other cancers, particularly ovarian cancer. More than 3,000 cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed in the United States each year. The majority of mesothelioma victims are men. Approximately 30% of people diagnosed with mesothelioma were exposed while serving in the United States military. The average age of a mesothelioma patient is 69.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported 45,221 deaths from asbestos and other related mineral particles in 2015, the latest year for which the CDC has statistics. The greatest risk of asbestos exposure is occupational, especially during the maintenance and remediation of buildings containing asbestos. The latency period for the discovery of asbestos-related diseases is from 20 to 71 years. The median survival time after a malignant mesothelioma diagnosis is 12 to 21 months, although some mesothelioma patients have survived more than ten years after their diagnosis.

You may have heard about workers who developed mesothelioma—typically, but not always, in the lungs—years after workplace exposure to asbestos:

  • Firefighters.
  • Factory workers.
  • Power plant workers.
  • Construction workers.
  • Insulation and roofing contractors.
  • Shipyard workers.
  • Military veterans, especially Navy veterans.

Before the carcinogenic (cancer-causing) nature of asbestos was known, asbestos was routinely used for industrial applications, and installed in homes, office buildings, schools, and other structures where humans live, work, and play.

More recently, you may have heard about women who regularly used talcum powder tainted by asbestos—on themselves for feminine hygiene purposes, or on their babies to keep their bottoms dry—and developed ovarian cancer. Asbestos often appears underground where talc, the key ingredient in talcum powder, is mined. The concentration of asbestos in any area where talc is mined varies, making it virtually impossible to extract only asbestos-free talc. Instead, the talc must be tested before being placed on the market.

Asbestos: an unseen, silent killer

Anyone exposed to asbestos risks inhaling or swallowing potentially deadly asbestos fibers. This exposure can be direct, or it can be indirect, through contact with an exposed person’s hair, body, or clothing. Asbestos fibers, which are not visible to the naked eye, become embedded in the linings of the lungs, heart, or other internal organs, and may cause healthy cells to mutate into cancer cells. Regardless of whether it is swallowed or inhaled, asbestos migrates throughout the body. It may take 20, 30, or more years for any effects of asbestos exposure to appear.

Workers exposed to asbestos on the job and regular talcum powder users have successfully sued the companies that manufactured the asbestos-tainted products that caused their cancers. An experienced personal injury attorney with expertise in handling mesothelioma and other asbestos-related cancers can guide you through the process of seeking compensation from those responsible for your exposure to asbestos. At Slater & Zurz, we have decades of experience handling personal injury and product liability cases involving mesothelioma and other cancers.

Mesothelioma affects four different areas of the body.

There are four types of mesothelioma:

  • Pleural mesothelioma, which affects the lungs, accounts for approximately 75% of cases diagnosed.
  • Peritoneal mesothelioma, which affects the abdominal cavity, accounts for fewer than 20% of mesothelioma cases.
  • Pericardial mesothelioma, which affects the tissues around the heart, accounts for only 1% of diagnosed cases.
  • Testicular mesothelioma, which affects the lining of the testicles, accounts for fewer than 1% of cases.

Other cancers have other causes besides asbestos.

While asbestos is responsible for almost all instances of mesothelioma, it is not the only cause of lung cancer or ovarian cancer. One widely known cause of lung cancer is smoking tobacco products, although not all smokers will develop lung cancer.

There are risk factors for ovarian cancer in addition to contact with asbestos, although a woman with one or more risk factors may never develop ovarian cancer:

  • Age (over 40 years old).
  • Alcohol abuse.
  • Family history of breast, ovarian, or colorectal cancer.
  • Having children late in life, or having no children.
  • Obesity.
  • Post-menopausal hormone therapy.
  • Prior breast cancer diagnosis.
  • Smoking.

The symptoms of ovarian cancer are similar to those of peritoneal mesothelioma (bloating, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, fatigue, back pain, and the need to urinate more frequently). However, the treatment for ovarian cancer is different from the treatment for peritoneal mesothelioma. That’s why it’s important to identify or rule out mesothelioma at the diagnostic stage so that proper treatment, which can significantly extend a mesothelioma patient’s life, can begin as soon as possible.

A doctor’s failure to recognize mesothelioma, followed by improper treatment for ovarian cancer, may amount to medical malpractice. We at Slater & Zurz have extensive experience handling medical malpractice cases. If you were misdiagnosed with one form of cancer and only later discovered that you have mesothelioma, you may have a separate case against the doctor and/or facility responsible for the misdiagnosis and improper treatment. Call or email our professional team to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys. We’ll review your case, answer your questions, and recommend the best way to go forward.

If you have mesothelioma or ovarian cancer, you may have a claim against the company responsible for your exposure to asbestos.

After being diagnosed with mesothelioma or asbestos-related ovarian cancer, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, pain and suffering, and other losses. Here’s a list of some people who may have a claim:

  • People are exposed to asbestos in the workplace.
  • Military veterans were exposed to asbestos while serving.
  • People are exposed to asbestos contained in products like talcum powder.
  • Mesothelioma patients who are victims of second-hand exposure to asbestos.

If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or ovarian cancer after long-term exposure to asbestos, trust an experienced personal injury law firm dedicated to seeking compensation for victims whose health was compromised by defective or dangerous products.

At Slater & Zurz LLP, we have a proven record of success in handling personal injury and product liability cases, including matters involving mesothelioma and ovarian cancer. Sometimes we partner with other firms that specialize in particular types of cases to ensure that our clients are in the best position to recover from those who have caused them harm.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma or ovarian cancer after long-term exposure to asbestos, you can count on us to fully assess your claim, answer your questions, and advise you concerning the best way to proceed. There’s no fee for our services unless we win a judgment or settle a case in your favor.

Call the dedicated professionals on our team for a free consultation. We’re here to serve your legal needs with compassion, unwavering dedication, and the drive to win for you.