Frequently Asked Questions

Along with a mesothelioma diagnosis comes dozens of questions. What is mesothelioma? Is there a cure for it? Where can I find a specialist? Mary Hesdorffer, Executive Director of the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation and mesothelioma nurse practitioner, sat down with Simmons Hanly Conroy to answer common questions about mesothelioma. For more information, go to

For answers to more medical questions not addressed in the videos below, please visit the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation website. You can also learn more by browsing the rest of the videos in our mesothelioma video library.

Legal Reviewer Chris Guinn
Legally Reviewed and Fact Checked by:
Christopher R. Guinn, Shareholder, Simmons Hanly Conroy

Is There More Than One Kind of Mesothelioma?

There are three types of mesothelioma: epithelioid, sarcomatoid, and biphasic. Mary Hesdorffer explains how the different types can affect the lungs and abdomen.

Mesothelioma Cancer Information

Mesothelioma is a rare, aggressive cancer caused by asbestos exposure that most commonly affects the lungs and abdomen. Mary Hesdorffer gives a quick, clear overview of this disease.

Pleural Mesothelioma Symptoms

Mary Hesdorffer describes pleural mesothelioma symptoms in detail, which can include coughing, pneumonia and night sweats.

Peritoneal Mesothelioma

Mary Hesdorffer gives an overview of peritoneal mesothelioma, a rare cancer caused by asbestos exposure that attacks the lining of the abdomen.

What Does a Pleural Mesothelioma Diagnosis Mean?

Mary Hesdorffer explains pleural mesothelioma, a rare and aggressive cancer caused by asbestos exposure that attacks the lining of the lungs.

Mesothelioma & Asbestos FAQs

Asbestos is a naturally occurring group of minerals that contain fibers easily separated into thin, microscopic threads. These fibers are strong, flexible, heat-resistant, and do not conduct electricity. As a result, asbestos was used in thousands of products throughout the 20th century in the United States.

There are four types of asbestos which have been used commercially:

  • Chrysotile (white) asbestos
  • Crocidolite (blue) asbestos
  • Amosite (brown) asbestos
  • Anthophyllite (gray) asbestos

Asbestos use became popular in the United States during the 20th century Industrial Revolution and continued throughout the 1970s. Known as the “miracle fiber” for its tensile strength, asbestos was primarily used for insulation, fireproofing and sound absorption.

Over time, asbestos found its way into several industries and over 3,000 different products.

For example, the building and construction industries have used asbestos in cements, plastics and insulation; the automotive industry has used asbestos in brake shoes and clutch pads; and the shipbuilding industry has used asbestos to insulate boilers and hot water pipes.

Click here to see a longer list of asbestos products.

Although asbestos has been confirmed a human carcinogen, it is still used in the United States today. There are several organizations, such as the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization, working to completely ban its use.

In 1989, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published “Asbestos: Manufacture, Importation, Processing, and Distribution in Commerce Prohibitions,” banning all new uses of asbestos. Most asbestos uses established before that year are still allowed, but are now strictly regulated by the government

Unless a material is labeled, it is difficult to determine whether it contains asbestos simply by looking at it. If you have any doubts about the material, you should treat it as if it contains asbestos, or have it sampled and analyzed by a certified professional. Taking samples yourself is never recommended because if done incorrectly, sampling can be more hazardous than leaving the material alone.

The World Health Organization estimates that over 107,000 people worldwide die each year from asbestos-related diseases.

Exposure to asbestos increases the risk of several serious diseases, including lung cancer, asbestosis and mesothelioma.

When a product that contains asbestos is cut, sanded, sawed, or otherwise manipulated, microscopic asbestos fibers are released into the air. Because asbestos fibers are small, light, odorless, colorless and tasteless, they can stay in the air for a long time and are not easily detected. These fibers can then either be inhaled or ingested. If they stick to a person’s clothing, skin or hair then others who come in contact with that person could also inhale or ingest the fibers.

After inhalation or ingestion, asbestos fibers can become lodged in the lungs or other body cavities and cause serious disease. Symptoms of these diseases do not generally appear until 10 to 50 years after exposure to asbestos.

In the United States legal system, manufacturers, suppliers, sellers, and distributors are under a legal duty to provide safe products and to warn those using their products of any potential dangers associated with them. When a company fails to fulfill that duty, legal liability for injuries caused by such a product may result.

Even if you can prove you have been exposed to asbestos, you must be diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease to file a lawsuit. If you have been exposed to asbestos, schedule regular checkups to let a doctor monitor you for symptoms of asbestos-related diseases.

For more information about filing a lawsuit based on asbestos exposure, click here.

Workers from a wide range of industries and trades were unfairly and unknowingly exposed to asbestos. Common asbestos exposure occupations include automobile mechanics, boilermakers, carpenters, construction workers, machinists, railroad workers, shipbuilders, steelworkers, oil refinery workers and U.S. Navy Veterans.

Click here for a full list of asbestos exposure occupations.

Yes. The OSHA has three standards to protect workers from exposure to asbestos in the workplace: one regulates construction work, including alteration, repair, renovation, and demolition of structures containing asbestos; another covers asbestos exposure during work in shipyards; and the third applies to asbestos exposure in general industry, such as exposure during brake and clutch repair, custodial work, and manufacture of asbestos-containing products.

Yes. In the construction and shipyard industries, employers must provide education and training for employees exposed above a permissible exposure limit (PEL), and for all employees involved in certain identified work classifications. In general industry, employers must provide training to all employees exposed above PELs. Employers must also provide asbestos awareness training to employees who perform housekeeping operations covered by OSHA standards. Employers must place warning labels on all asbestos products, containers, and installed construction materials when feasible.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s “Worker Protection Rule” extends standards implemented by the OSHA to state and local employees who perform asbestos work, and who are not covered by the OSHA asbestos standards, or by a state OSHA plan. The “Worker Protection Rule” parallels OSHA requirements and covers medical examinations, air monitoring and reporting, protective equipment, work practices, and record keeping. In addition, many state and local agencies have more stringent standards than those required by the federal government.

Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos.

Mesothelioma most often affects the lining of the lungs, abdomen and heart. There are three main types of mesothelioma, each named for the part of the body where the cancer is found: pleural mesothelioma, peritoneal mesothelioma and pericardial mesothelioma.

Symptoms of mesothelioma may not appear until 10 to 50 years after exposure to asbestos. Common symptoms include chest pain, shortness of breath, coughing, wheezing, hoarseness, weight loss, abdominal swelling and bowel obstruction. If you or a loved one are experiencing any of these symptoms, do not hesitate to contact your physician.

Diagnosing mesothelioma is often quite difficult because mesothelioma symptoms are very similar to other less serious diseases. Your physician will most likely start the diagnostic process by asking you questions about your symptoms, medical history, lifestyle and exposure to asbestos. Then you may undergo several diagnostic procedures. Each is performed by a different medical professional, so if cancer is suspected, you may be referred to another doctor, or oncologist. There are a host of tests to isolate mesothelioma including MRI scans, blood tests, fluid/tissue sample tests, and pulmonary function tests.

Since mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer, it is advisable that you see a mesothelioma specialist. Our mesothelioma lawyers work closely with mesothelioma specialists across the country, including the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation (Meso Foundation). Visit the Meso Foundation website for help locating a mesothelioma specialist.

The most common treatments for mesothelioma are surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. The type of treatment will depend on the stage and type of mesothelioma and a few other factors such as medical history, age and overall health. Your specialist might also consider additional treatments, including alternative medicine or clinical trials.

 background image
Get a Free Legal Consultation
  • We fight to maximize your results
  • Many clients get results in as few as 90 days
  • No out-of-pocket costs for you or your family
Get a Free Consultation

Learn More About Filing a Mesothelioma Lawsuit

Download our guide: Asbestos Litigation, Your Guide to the Legal Process.

Filing a mesothelioma lawsuit can help to cover the cost of mesothelioma treatments. Although medical expenses are not covered by the firm, we will work our hardest to obtain the best possible outcome from your mesothelioma case. If you have unanswered questions or concerns about filing a mesothelioma lawsuit, please contact one of our mesothelioma lawyers today.

Download The Guide
Learn More About Filing a Mesothelioma Lawsuit background image
Simmons Support Team
Legal Reviewer Chris GuinnReviewed by:Christopher R. Guinn

Shareholder, Simmons Hanly Conroy

  • Fact-Checked
  • Legal Reviewer

Attorney Chris Guinn is a shareholder at Simmons Hanly Conroy. He dedicates his practice to representing victims of mesothelioma and asbestos-related diseases and since joining the firm in 2004, has recovered millions of dollars on their behalf. As a shareholder, Chris helps outline a custom legal strategy for the firm’s asbestos clients. A veteran of over 300 cases, he has spent years traveling around the country to meet with individuals diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease and their families. He has a successful track record prosecuting the corporations who harmed them.