The set timeline from first confirmed diagnosis date of mesothelioma to bringing a claim for mesothelioma compensation is three years. There will be exceptional circumstances when the courts will allow a case to be brought beyond the time limit but it is vital to contact an asbestosis lawyer at the earliest opportunity.

Given the long latency period of up to 40 or 50 years that elapses from the period of exposure to when the first symptoms appear, plus the possible ignoring or misreading of first symptoms, it is absolutely critical to act without delay, as often victims may only have months or even weeks to live.

Even if there has not been a general lack of realisation and in depth asbestos awareness, early symptoms of mesothelioma are non-specific in nature, and thus, may still lead to a delay in diagnosis.

Generally, a first common symptoms alert for pleural mesothelioma comes in the form of shortness of breath, chest pain and a persistent cough, but in some cases, even these ailments may not be severe enough to lead the patient to realise they need to seek medical help.

Some patients will complain of pain in the shoulder blade or lower back and these symptoms most often occur 2-3 months prior to a confirmed diagnosis. In peritoneal mesothelioma, abdominal pain and swelling, nausea or vomiting, bowel obstruction and weight loss are the most common symptoms.

It is important to be aware and remember that these symptoms are not unique to mesothelioma, and may be caused by another condition. Once again, seeking a consultation with a GP and/or qualified physician is essential.

As mesothelioma progresses, pleural effusion (fluid build up between the two pleural layers) occurs in 95% of patients, and it is this symptom which ultimately leads to patients first visiting their GP. During his visit, a chest x-ray is taken which may confirm the effusion and a thickening of the pleura may also be noted at this time. If the GP suspects cancer is a possibility, referral may be made to a hospital consultant who specialises in lung cancer and mesothelioma.

An assessment of urgency will be made by the GP, and will be based on the following criteria:

Immediate referral: The patient needs to be seen within a few hours.
Urgent referral: The patient will be seen within two weeks.
Non-urgent: All other referrals.