While not everyone who is exposed to asbestos develops mesothelioma cancer, the risk factors remain very real for those who encountered the mineral regularly on the job. This is especially true for individuals who worked in shipyards, power plants, steel mills, chemical plants, insulation factories, and other industries that made widespread use of the hazardous mineral throughout much of the 20th century.
A particularly difficult-to-treat form of cancer, mesothelioma disease has a long latency period often taking up to 50 years for a diagnosis to be made. Diagnosis is eventually made when mesothelioma symptoms begin to appear, including breathlessness, fatigue, chest pain, a persistent cough, and weight loss. Mesothelioma treatment may involve surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, or a combination of all three. Life span after diagnosis is limited though new drugs are improving the mesothelioma prognosis.
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National Cancer Institute