Mesothelioma often goes undiagnosed. The nature of the cancer makes it difficult to identify early, or at all.
In many cases, the surviving loved ones only learn their family member had mesothelioma following their passing. This is why an autopsy report is so important, especially in undiagnosed cases.
It could be the deciding factor in whether the surviving loved ones receive compensation.
A story from Michigan is an example of why family members should seek an autopsy if their deceased loved one died before being diagnosed with mesothelioma. A lot of people ask, “How do you diagnose mesothelioma?” and it’s even possible if the patient has already passed away.
Richard W., of Wayne County, Michigan, passed away recently and his family believes he had mesothelioma, a rare cancer that forms near the lungs or abdominal cavity.
However, an autopsy wasn’t performed on Richard W. before cremation. That led to the family filing a lawsuit against the autopsy service hired. The family claims this action blocked any attempt to receive compensation for the asbestos disease.
Why Isn’t a Biopsy Performed?
Mesothelioma is the cause of around 3,000 deaths annually in the United States. That number is based on diagnosed cases or post-death autopsy reports. Cases like Richard W. indicate the number might be higher.
Many mesothelioma victims are too ill to undergo a biopsy, a minimally invasive surgery that is the only decisive way to diagnose mesothelioma. This cancer takes 20-50 years to manifest itself, meaning most patients first experience symptoms in their 50s, 60s and 70s.
Remember also that most patients don’t seek medical care until mesothelioma is already in stage 3 or 4 due to the challenge of recognizing it earlier. The combination of old age and an advanced disease often eliminates hope for a mesothelioma biopsy.
What Is at Stake? Answers and Compensation
Conducting an autopsy prior to cremation or burial is the only option left to uncover the cause of death. No biopsy and no autopsy leaves lingering questions:
- Did the patient have mesothelioma?
- Was mesothelioma advanced?
- Was this cancer the cause of death, or was it something else?
An autopsy provides important answers to the family. It’s a moment of closure and security as they attempt to move on from the painful loss of a loved one.
An autopsy also provides more legal options.
Mesothelioma is caused by asbestos, and this mineral’s prevalence in American society is due to selfish and malicious manufacturing companies. These businesses are responsible for thousands of American deaths each year, and if there’s even the slightest possibility of sidestepping a lawsuit, they’ll take it.
All the evidence — the victim’s work history around asbestos, their age, and their symptoms — could point to mesothelioma. Without that definitive proof, the opportunity for financial compensation is diminished.
If your loved one likely has mesothelioma and is in their end stages, begin planning to have an autopsy performed. This step is crucial if a biopsy wasn’t used to diagnose the disease. You can contact our legal and medical team at firstname.lastname@example.org to get help on how to request an autopsy.
Sources & Author
- Wayne County funeral home sued for cremating body without autopsy. Detroit Metro Times. Retrieved from: https://www.metrotimes.com/news-hits/archives/2020/12/29/wayne-county-funeral-home-sued-for-cremating-body-without-autopsy. Accessed: 11/15/22.
Sources & Author