Mesothelioma is a specific type of cancer overwhelmingly caused by exposure to asbestos. Specifically, mesothelioma is a cancer involving mesothelial cells which form the very thin linings/membranes surrounding and encasing the lungs, heart, abdominal cavity and gonads. These linings are called the mesothelium. After a person inhales or ingests asbestos fibers, those fibers reach the mesothelium where they cause genetic errors of the mesothelial cells that comprise the membranes. This results in daughter cells without the ability to control cell growth. This loss of controlled cell growth can lead to cancer of the mesothelial cells, which is mesothelioma.
Companies Knew About Asbestos Dangers for Decades
Asbestos is a naturally-occurring, fibrous mineral once used in many products due to its strength and ability to resist heat, as well as insulate. The use of asbestos dates back more than 4,000 years ago. However, starting in the late 1800s, it became well understood in medicine, science, and industry that asbestos dust from any source was deadly. In addition, many asbestos manufacturers were aware of the serious health issues surrounding asbestos but kept the information secret. Over time, reputable doctors began to publish substantial research proving asbestos led to serious illnesses, such as asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma.
The Prognosis is Grim for Mesothelioma Patients
Mesothelioma has a latency period, meaning symptoms do not begin to show until 10-80 years after asbestos exposures took place. By the time the cancer is diagnosed, it is usually in an advanced stage, which significantly decreases a patient’s survival rate. Although, every case is unique, and there are other factors that could influence life expectancy, including the type of mesothelioma, overall health of the patient, and available treatment options.
Asbestos Exposure and Mesothelioma in the Workplace
Anyone can be exposed to asbestos, but asbestos-related diseases are common in those who work in the trades or do manual labor. If your work history includes a period of time where you were around asbestos, you and your family are at risk of a mesothelioma diagnosis. It is important to speak with a doctor about your work history to ensure an accurate diagnosis of mesothelioma or any other asbestos-related disease.