Although mesothelioma can strike at any age, the majority of cases are found in men aged sixty-five and older. Although the gender factor is not entirely clear, age at diagnosis is due to the lengthy mesothelioma latency period. In most cases, it can be as much as sixty years between initial exposure to asbestos and the appearance of mesothelioma symptoms leading to a mesothelioma diagnosis. In the case of pleural mesothelioma, symptoms can also be indicative of many other disorders that range from something as innocuous as the common chest cold to emphysema or tuberculosis; moreover, the malignancy does not normally form lumps like most tumors, but rather spreads in a sheet-like fashion. These factors make diagnosis difficult.
Another factor has to do with the amount and intensity of asbestos exposure. The greater the intensity of the exposure, the higher the chances of contracting mesothelioma. This is one reason that most victims are men in their sixties and older. However, there are documented cases involving mesothelioma and women. In one case, a woman who was a first responder on 11 September 2001 and contracted fatal mesothelioma, dying within five years because of the high concentration of asbestos fibers that day.
Those who have a family history of cancer are also more likely to contract mesothelioma. Studies have shown that DNA can attach itself to asbestos fibers; this interaction results in the cellular mutations that cause cells to become malignant.
The only sure mesothelioma cure is mesothelioma prevention and regular health monitoring and screening; diagnosed in its earliest stage (when it is still localized and has not yet spread), mesothelioma treatment can be successful.
Roggli VL, Pratt PC and Brody AR. "Asbestos Fiber Type in Malignant Mesothelioma: an Analytical Scanning Electron Microscopic Study of 94 Cases." American Journal of Industrial Medicine. 1994 Apr Vol. 25(4). pp. 609-10
WrongDiagnosis. "Mesothelioma, Adult Malignant."