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Mesothelioma on the Iron Range: A workers' comp issue

Mesothelioma is a fatal lung disease linked to asbestos exposure. A University of MN study, cited in Minnpost, notes a long latency period, with diagnosis often occurring 20-50 years after exposure. Minnesota Iron Range workers are diagnosed with it at nearly three times the rate of other Minnesotans. Researchers are unsure whether the disease is a result of long-ago asbestos exposure, or if it is related to taconite and silica dust.

What it means for taconite workers

Regardless of the how you contracted it, mesothelioma is a serious and almost always fatal disease, and since symptoms are generally mild in the beginning and can mimic other diseases, it is usually well-advanced before it is diagnosed.

According to WebMD, symptoms of the disease include, chest pain and shortness of breath due to accumulated fluid in the chest cavity. Other symptoms range from blood clots and weight loss to anemia and fever. The cancer may spread--or metastasize--to body parts making it difficult to combat.

Treatment methods follow those for other cancers: surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. Your treatment will depend on the stage of cancer and whether or not the cancer has spread.

What if I got this from work?

If you developed mesothelioma as a result of workplace exposure to asbestos or taconite dust, your treatment, as well as lost wages, may be covered under worker's compensation.

If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, and you believe it is because of exposure at work, contact an experienced workers' compensation attorney. During this difficult time, you need an advocate who will ensure medical bills are paid, and your income is intact. With these reassurances, you can spend your time with family, and friends, while you seek the best possible treatment.

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