As with any disease or health condition, mesothelioma researchers have, over time, collected and analyzed all kinds of information about the disease. This information may someday help researchers and doctors make advances towards a cure for this deadly cancer.
Some Common Questions About Mesothelioma
How Often is Mesothelioma Diagnosed?
New cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed in between 2,500 and 3,000 Americans each year. These numbers, while significant, would indicate that mesothelioma is still a relatively rare disease, though incidence is expected to rise in the next decade according to projections.
What is the Typical Age at Diagnosis?
The first diagnosis of mesothelioma typically occurs in men and women between the ages of 50 and 70 years. Mesothelioma patients, certainly, have been diagnosed at ages younger than 50 and older than 70, but diagnoses for those age groups are considered statistical anomalies.
What is the typical Mesothelioma Latency Period?
Typically, there is a great deal of time between an individual's exposure to asbestos and the development of asbestos-related health complications. Mesothelioma is associated with a long-latency period (often 20-50 years) after exposure. Over a long period of time, lodged asbestos fibers slowly inflame the lung's external tissue, often serving as a pre-cursor to the development of malignant mesothelioma. Mesothelioma doctors diagnose the disease when it becomes apparent through a clinical examination, but this often happens long after the initial exposure to asbestos occurred.
Does Mesothelioma Occur in a Particular Sex More Often?
Mesothelioma is much more common in men than women, due mostly to occupational asbestos exposure being more common among men in industrial labor settings. That is not to say, however, that women cannot be diagnosed with mesothelioma. In fact, recent evidence suggests that mesothelioma incidence in women may rise in the coming years as a result of secondary exposures to asbestos. Many women diagnosed with mesothelioma discover that they are victims of second-hand asbestos exposure that occurred while washing clothes that had asbestos fibers on them.
Does Mesothelioma Occur in a Particular Race More Often?
Mesothelioma is much less common among African Americans than Caucasians, the reasons for which researchers are still investigating.
What are Typical Patient Survival Rates for Mesothelioma?
As mesothelioma is often diagnosed in its advanced stages, the prognosis from mesothelioma is often in the range of a year after diagnosis. If diagnosed early enough, however, survival may potentially extend over many years. Patient survival rates are often contingent on the treatments available to the particular patient.
Where Can I Find More Information About Mesothelioma?
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Can Mesothelioma Be Prevented?
Mesothelioma is an extremely aggressive and deadly form of cancer that is almost exclusively caused by exposure to asbestos fibers. Although mesothelioma is relatively rare, it is one of the most painful and difficult to treat; the best cure for mesothelioma is prevention. Ultimately, this means avoiding asbestos exposure. Although the chances of contracting mesothelioma are proportional to the amount and intensity of the exposure, the disease has been known to develop in people whose exposure has been minimal - but who have a genetic predisposition to cancer.
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has enacted a number of regulations to protect workers on the job at asbestos jobsites, where most asbestos exposure takes place. Under current laws, the maximum permissible level of exposure is 01. fibers per cubic centimeter for an eight-hour work day and one fiber per cubic centimeter during any thirty minute period. In addition, employers are obligated to monitor and regulate the work environment and provide employees with protective gear and safety training.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has also issued recommendations on how people can protect themselves against non-occupational asbestos exposure:
Regular inspection and monitoring of asbestos products or materials in and around the home; asbestos was part of many common building materials.
Having asbestos abatement carried out by trained, licensed professionals with proper safety equipment only.
Avoiding sweeping, vacuuming, sanding, scraping or otherwise disturbing any surfaces that may be made from asbestos or contain asbestos materials.
Avoiding the use of tobacco; studies have demonstrated a link beween smoking and mesothelioma showing that smokers face up to a 9000% greater chance of contracting asbestos cancer.
Getting regular checkups, particularly if there is a known history of asbestos exposure (i.e. having worked in an industrial occupation).
This last part is especially important, as many mesothelioma symptoms are indicative of other diseases as well.
An Early History of Mesothelioma
We have provided below a timeline of key developments and milestones that occurred in the history of mesothelioma and asbetsos disease from a medical perspective.
|Year||Author||Description of Text|
|1879||insulation material and products containing asbestos are manufactured for commercial use.|
|1899||Murray||abstract entitled "Curious Bodies" describes the first reported case of asbestosis|
|1906||Auribault||Asbestos fibers found to be a contributing factor in the deaths of 50 people; First instance of asbestos-related lung disease identified.|
|1918||Hoffman||United States Dept of Labor publication reports - "urgent need for more extensive investigation...."|
|1924-27||Cooke||The first case of "asbestosis" is documented in British Literature.|
|1928-29||Seiller; Haddow||Report indicated that four deceased individuals were age 41, on average, at the time of death|
|1920-29||More than 25 asbestos-related articles are published|
|1930||Mereweather & Price||Out of 363 asbestos textile mill workers 26% (95) were diagnosed with asbestosis; length and level of exposure are considered factors in developing the disease.|
|1930||International Labor Office, Geneva Encyclopedia, Occupation & Health||"more accurate and thorough research must become available in medical literature as it pertains to industries that utilize asbestos containing products. More and more industries are using asbestos so there is an increased sense of urgency with which we must act."|
|1930-31||Soper; Panacost & Pendergrass||The mesothelioma latency period is found to be long. Disease may not develop for up to 25 years after exposure stops. The disease will continue to progress despite discontinued exposure.|
|1931||Lynch & Smith||172 documented medical cases are found in publications|
|1931||Wood & Gloyne||Working with asbestos laden insulation even in a "sawyer" occupation can lead to Asbestosis|
|1933||Ellman||First documented case of asbestosis found in a U.S. insulation worker|
|1933||Donnelly||Even brief exposure to asbestos can be considered an industrial hazard. Chemical plants, power plants and other asbestos jobsites do not offer adequate protection against asbestos exposure to workers.|
|1933-34||Mereweather||Workers in mills and manufacturing plant face grave risk and almost certain death due to asbestos exposure.|
|1934||Wood & Gloyne||Initial 100 cases of asbestosis are reviewed including individuals who worked outdoors, in an office and one who was a boiler-riveter. Two cases involved fatal lung cancer.|
|1935||Lanza||126 people who worked in either U.S. mines or mills were randomly selected to take a physical exam. All had in excess of three years exposure to dust. 67 individuals were found to have asbestosis.|
|1934-35||Dept. of Labor, Commonwealth of Penn. Special Bulletin I, II & III||Published bibliography references 125 articles. Clear correlation between dust measurement and incidence of asbestos cancer identified (8% disease at 5 mppcf, 22% at 17mppcf, 57% at 44 mppcf); 25% survival rate identified for asbestosis victims.|
|1935||Lynch & Smith||First instances of lung cancer and asbestosis in the U.S. were documented.|
|1936||Donnelly||Asbestosis becoming a more serious issue for workers. Work hazards are not being sufficiently addressed. 34% of workers are developing life threatening illness; The more workers exposed, the more reported cases of asbestosis seen.|
|1936-38||Egbert; Nordmann, British Factory Inspectorate Report||More instances of lung cancer seen in asbestosis-related illness.|
|1938||Dreessen||U.S.P.H.S. study -- Until further research is conducted, the maximum dust level value is established at 5 mppcf|
|1938||Lanza||The British implement 1931 regulations to manufacturing facilities and mills where asbestos containing products were made or sold.|
|1930-39||More than 150 articles are published|
|1941||Kuhn||German shipyard work performing insulation duties develops asbestosis and is compensated with disability money.|
|1942||Holleb||Two insulation workers develop lung cancer.|
|1942||Hueper||A published book that examines tumors that have links to certain occupational work suggesting that lung cancer is linked to asbestos exposure on the job.|
|1942||Asbestosis and lung cancer are considered diseases for which workers are entitled to compensation in Germany.|
|1943||Hueper||Workers need to be better educated on the occupational risks of asbestos exposure and links to lung cancer with asbestosis.|
|1943||Welder||First pleural mesothelioma case reported|
|1946||Fleischer||3 shipyards are examined by the U.S. Navy. It was noted that elevated dust levels existed when cutting, sawing and mixing asbestos products; asbestos disease likely in workers who perform these functions; 3 instances of asbestosis identified out of 51 men with more than 10 years time working in the shipyards.|
|1946||ACGIH||Updated a list of MAC values to reflect 5 mppcf (known as TLVs beginning in 1949)|
|1947||Mereweather||13% of individuals (31/235)who died of asbestosis were examined during autopsy and found to have lung cancer. Only 1% of lung cancer cases were found in silicotics.|
|1949||AMA Editorial||Spotlight attention needed on the increasing rates of occupational related cancer deaths.|
|1940-49||More than 50 new articles published|
|1951||1949 Factory Inspectorate Report (Great Britain)||Discusses the need for workers to be aware of potential risks associated with using burlap packaging in factories.|
|1953||Weiss||First documented case of mesothelioma in an insulation worker|
|1955||Doll||Textile workers with more than twenty years asbestos exposure found to have high mortality rate. Out of 113 textile employees, 39 people died. 11 had lung cancer|
|1955||McLaughlin||Great Britain seeing an increase in the reported number of cases of asbestosis especially among insulation workers|
|1955||Schepers||Documentation showing a link between asbestosis in animals and exposure to products that contain asbestos.|
|1956||Frost||22 out of 31 workers in Denmark with over 20 years experience have abnormal medical conditions after working with insulation products.|
|1958||Van Der Shoot||Insulation work in a Dutch refinery develops Pleural mesothelioma.|
|1950-59||More than 125 publications|
|1960||Wagner||Strong correlation between mesothelioma and occupational or environmental asbestos exposure. 32 out of 33 people diagnosed with mesothelioma were exposed to asbestos.|
|1960||Kiviluoto||Mine and mill worker showing higher incidence of pleural calcifications.|
|1960-63||Eisenstadt, Wilson, McCaughey, Wade, Elmes, Castleman, Kibbee||Documented case profiles of workers in the US and Great Britain that developed mesothelioma after being exposed to asbestos on the job.|
|1963||Mancuso||Asbestos plant workers in the U.S. show higher death rates.|
|1964||Marr||6 shipyard workers developed asbestosis; industrial study conducted to review dust levels - found some instances where levels exceeded TLV. Work environment appeared excessively dusty during sawing operations.|
|1964||Selikoff||Review of insulation workers with occupational asbestos exposure uncovers links to excessive asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma fatalities. Review looks at 1,117 workers.|
|1965||Newhouse||9 instances of Mesothelioma diagnosis in family members of asbestos workers who received second hand exposure.|
|1965||McVittie||Insulation workers in reported 41% of new asbestosis cases between 1955 and 1963; 21% worked in textile industries.|
|1960-69||More than 200 publications|
Author: Linda Molinari
Editor in Chief, Mesothelioma Cancer AllianceRead about Linda
Reviewer: Annette Charlevois
Patient Support CoordinatorRead about Annette
National Cancer Institute - Mesothelioma: Questions and Answers
Neumann V, Gunther, S., Muller, K.M., Fischer, J. Malignant Mesothelioma - German Mesothelioma Register 1987-1999. International Archives Of Occupational And Environmental Health. 2001 August. Vol. 74 (6), pp. 383-95.
Varan, A. et al. Malignant Mesothelioma in an Adolescent Boy. Pediatrics International. 1999 Dec. Vol 41 (6), pp. 693-695.
Chahinian, A.P., Pajak, T.F., Holland, J.F. Norton, L., Ambinder, R.M., and Mandel, E.M. Diffuse Malignant Mesothelioma: Prospective Evaluation of 69 Patients. Annals of Internal Medicine. 1982 June. Vol 96 (6 Pt 1), pp. 746-55.
Robinson, B.W., Lake, R.A. Advances in Malignant Mesothelioma. The New England Journal of Medicine. 2005 Oct. Vol 353 (15), pp 1591-603.
Ohar, J., Sterling, D., Bleecker, E., Donohue, J. Changing Patterns in Asbestos-Induced Lung Disease. Chest. 2004 Feb. Vol 125 (2) , pp 744-53.
Landrigan, P.J. et al. Health and Environmental Consequences of the World Trade Center Disaster. Environmental Health Perspectives. 2004 May. Vol 112 (6), pp 731-9.
HealthDangers.com - History of Asbestos
American Cancer Society. "What Are The Risk Factors For Mesothelioma?"