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Mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive cancer that is primarily caused by asbestos exposure. To those who have never heard of the disease or have never known someone affected by it, mesothelioma may seem more like a foreign word than a real health danger. To help spread awareness about this disease, take a moment to read the key facts about mesothelioma:
What is mesothelioma?
It’s often thought that mesothelioma is a lung cancer, but it’s actually an aggressive cancer that affects the lining of the lungs, abdomen and heart. Mesothelioma is also quite rare with roughly 3,000 diagnoses each year. Accurately diagnosing mesothelioma is difficult because symptoms present themselves as common ailments, and do so in the later stages of the disease. Because of its late detection, mesothelioma has a grim prognosis of less than a year, on average.
Who is affected by mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma used to be considered an older man’s disease. Blue collar workers in occupations where asbestos was commonly used, like asbestos mining, steelmaking, or automotive work for example, were often afflicted with mesothelioma later in life due to their exposure to asbestos. Veterans are also a commonly afflicted demographic, as asbestos was often used in bases, found in buildings overseas, and used very liberally on Naval ships. However, mesothelioma doesn’t only affect men. There have been a rising number of women diagnosed with the disease through various primary and second hand sources of exposure.
Today, mesothelioma is a rising global health issue. What people don’t often realize is that many countries continue to import and export asbestos and do not regulate its use.
Where can asbestos exposure occur?
Asbestos can be found naturally in the environment, known as naturally occurring asbestos (NOA), where almost anyone in the area of the NOA could be exposed. Aside from the exposure risk of blue collar occupations and veterans, a lesser known fact about asbestos is that 80% of buildings constructed before 1980 contain asbestos. This includes places where many people work, homes where families live, and even grade schools.
When will mesothelioma diagnoses subside?
In the United States, widespread use of asbestos was common until the late 1970’s when its use became regulated due to its connection to mesothelioma. However, because of the latency period of 30 to 50 years, mesothelioma continues to be diagnosed today. Since asbestos is not regulated in other countries, mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases continue to be a growing global health issue.
Why is asbestos not banned?
Asbestos was used for so long because of it’s durable physical properties and its low cost. While companies became aware of the health implications of asbestos use, many continued to use it to their own financial gain. Many other countries, especially under-developed countries, continue to use asbestos without regulation because it cuts costs and is long lasting as a building material. Until asbestos use is banned worldwide, mesothelioma will continue to be a serious health concern.
Due to these facts, the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance asks you to take a moment for mesothelioma and spread the word about this terrible disease. Awareness is key to fighting this disease and educating people about the dangers of asbestos. Join our online community to learn more and to be a part of the conversation about mesothelioma.
Resources for Mesothelioma Patients and their Families
- Request a Free Mesothelioma Treatment Guide
- Connect with Top Mesothelioma Doctors
- Locate the Nearest Comprehensive Cancer Center