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Illinois Ranks Sixth in the Nation for Mesothelioma Deaths

| May 15, 2016 | Workers’ Compensation

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 3,000 individuals will be diagnosed with mesothelioma this year alone. Alarmingly, a significant number of those victims are residents from Illinois who were exposed to asbestos during the course of their employment. In fact, the CDC has ranked the state of Illinois sixth in the nation for incidence of this rare cancer.

What is Mesothelioma?

Malignant mesothelioma is an aggressive form of cancer in which malignant cells form on the thin lining of tissue that surrounds most of the body’s internal organs. It is most commonly found in the protective tissue (mesothelium) in the chest and abdomen. According to, there are three main types of the disease:

  • Pleural Mesothelioma: This type of mesothelioma is the most common, accounting for approximately 70 percent of incidences. It starts in the protective lining surrounding the lungs in the chest cavity.
  • Peritoneal Mesothelioma: The second most common type of the disease is peritoneal mesothelioma, which accounts for the majority of the remaining cases. This type of mesothelioma begins in the protective lining of the abdomen.
  • Pericardial Mesothelioma: Extremely rare, pericardial mesothelioma starts in the membrane that surrounds the heart.

Who is at Risk for Developing Mesothelioma?

Asbestos exposure is the leading cause of mesothelioma. While some people become exposed to asbestos due to the types of insulation and building materials found in some older homes and schools, most mesothelioma victims develop the disease as a result of their work environment. Illinois is highly populated with many of the types of industries that have historically placed workers at the highest risk. Individuals could have become exposed to asbestos while working at power plants, chemical plants, or various types of manufacturing facilities, but construction workers, electricians and plumbers are often high risk as well. Even more alarming, workers who are exposed to asbestos sometimes unknowingly bring exposure home to their families as well, when hazardous asbestos fibers attach themselves to clothing, shoes, car interiors and other personal belongings.

While workers who were employed in high-risk industries in the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s are more likely to have come in contact with higher levels of asbestos, millions of American workers are still contracting asbestos-related mesothelioma today. Unfortunately, the risk of developing the disease does not go down once exposure stops.

The most common age of diagnosis for victims of work-related mesothelioma is 72 years old. Such a delayed diagnosis is partially due to the length of time it takes a victim to actually develop symptoms of the disease. In many cases, the signs of mesothelioma do not develop for 20 to even 50 years after exposure. Disturbingly, the disease can also be very difficult to diagnose, and victims are frequently believed to simply have pneumonia or another type of respiratory condition.

Living with the Effects of Mesothelioma in Illinois

While there are a variety of treatment options available to help control the symptoms of this rare cancer, and some may even slow the aggressiveness of the disease, there is no cure. The damages suffered are permanent, destructive, and can eventually be deadly.

Sadly, victims of asbestos-related mesothelioma often spend months, and sometimes even years undergoing a multitude of expensive tests and medical treatments. Some endure ongoing treatment for the rest of their lives, which can wreak havoc on their financial affairs, interfere with their enjoyment of daily life, and disrupt their ability to perform even simple daily tasks. Fortunately for these victims and their families, there are legal options available that may help relieve some of the financial burdens associated with this disabling disease.

  • Workers’ Compensation: When mesothelioma is caused by a victim becoming exposed to asbestos in the workplace, a workers’ comp attorney can often help individuals recover some of their damages through a workers’ compensation settlement. In many cases, victims receive financial compensation for medical expenses as well as partial payment for their lost wages.
  • Third Party Claim: In many situations, asbestos exposure in the workplace is due to products that are manufactured by outside parties. When this is the case, a workers’ comp attorney may be able to help victims and their families receive additional compensation for the remainder of their lost wages, pain and suffering, funeral expenses, loss of consortium and more.
  • Personal Injury Claim: When a worker’s family members are exposed to asbestos that is carried home through clothing and other methods and are diagnosed with mesothelioma as a result, they may be entitled to compensation as well. A successful personal injury claim could result in payment for medical bills, pain and suffering, lost past and future wages, and other damages that are due to the disease.