Mesothelioma Myths and Misconceptions

With recent news reports indicating that several clinical trials show promise in treating mesothelioma, let’s take a look at several common myths and misconceptions about this aggressive asbestos-related cancer.

  • Mesothelioma is only caused by long-term asbestos exposure — Although mesothelioma has a long latency period, the initial exposure to asbestos does not need to be prolonged for it to cause the disease. Indeed, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has stated that there is no safe level of asbestos exposure. While not all asbestos exposure leads to mesothelioma, there is no evidence suggesting that mesothelioma is only caused by long-term asbestos exposure.
  • Mesothelioma only affects old men – Although mesothelioma has historically affected older men more so than other demographics, a growing number of cases have been discovered in younger people, particularly women. The rise in younger mesothelioma victims has been attributed to two sources: asbestos exposure when they were a child through blue-collared fathers who worked at industrial job sites that contained asbestos and unknowingly carried home asbestos dust on their clothing; and their presence in asbestos-containing buildings manufactured before and into the early 1980s (e.g. homes, schools, daycares).
  • Mesothelioma affects only the lungs – Although pleural mesothelioma (the type of mesothelioma that affects the pleura, or lining around the lungs) is the most common form of the disease, other types of mesothelioma exist as well. Among these are: peritoneal mesothelioma (which develops in the linings of the abdomen); pericardial mesothelioma (which affects the lining of the heart); testicular mesothelioma; and papillary mesothelioma. Pleural mesothelioma accounts for approximately 75% of all mesothelioma cases, while peritoneal mesothelioma accounts for 24% and the other types account for the remaining 1%.
  • Mesothelioma is not all that rare – According to the National Human Genome Research Institute, a rare disease is one that affects fewer than 200,000 people in the United States at any given time. Approximately 3,000 cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed in the U.S. each year. Of those, only five to 10 percent live more than five years. Based on these statistics, it would be nearly impossible for there to be more than 200,000 mesothelioma survivors in the U.S. at any given time. As such, mesothelioma clearly meets the definition of a rare disease.

Living with mesothelioma is difficult. It’s also difficult obtaining compensation for mesothelioma victims’ medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. If you or a loved one is battling mesothelioma, you should contact an experienced mesothelioma law firm with a successful track record.