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2012-10-25 digital edition

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2012-10-25 / General Stories

Survey says: Many former Alcoa employees don’t know importance of annual checkups, legal rights

Over the summer, Cappolino | Dodd | Krebs LLP conducted a voluntary screening of some current and former Alcoa Rockdale employees. While the law firm is still evaluating all of the results of the survey, some startling conclusions can be reached. Only one former employee, out of 50 interviews, was aware that people who were exposed to asbestos in an occupational setting should make sure their doctor knows about it, and to have a chest x-ray every year.

In addition, only one former Alcoa worker was aware that the law regarding cancer claims had changed more than 10 years ago.

“People who work around asbestos are at risk for some pretty aggressive cancers,” said Richard Dodd, a senior partner at the firm. “Leading authorities say that early detection is the only way to be protected against cancers.”

Further, he said, “... if you are diagnosed with mesothelioma or lung cancer, or a gastrointestinal cancer like throat, stomach or colon cancer, you probably have grounds for a claim, even if you had an earlier claim for asbestosis or other non-malignant, asbestosrelated disease.”

Dr. Roy Smythe, chairman of the department of surgery for Scott & White in Temple, is considered to be one of the nation’s leading experts on mesothelioma, the cancer most linked to asbestos exposure. He has said that the only way to truly curb the devastating effects of mesothelioma is to catch it early.

“I’ve seen hundreds of patients with [mesothelioma cancer] in my career and I’ve seen less than five with Stage I,” he said in a Temple Daily Telegram article in September, 2010. Symptoms of mesothelioma can take 20-50 years to present and, even then, are often mistaken for other ailments, he said.

“An annual chest X-ray, regular checkups and a doctor who has good information is your first line of defense against this cancer,” said Dodd.

Dodd, whose firm focuses on this kind of law, also noted that, for people who worked around asbestos, like almost everyone who worked at Alcoa over the years, any cancer diagnosis should be investigated for a possible claim.

More information about the cancers linked to asbestos exposure can be found on the firm’s website, www.AsbestosLaw.com.

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