Mesothelioma Risk Lessened for Those Exposed Later in Life

Malignant pleural mesothelioma. It is a diagnosis no one wants to hear. With few effective treatment options for the aggressive form of cancer, the diagnosis is more often than not a death sentence for the patient.

Every case of mesothelioma is unequivocally tied to asbestos exposure years previous to diagnosis. Unfortunately, that means the cancer grows and takes over long before the manifestation of symptoms such as:

  • Chest pain under rib cage
  • Painful coughing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Unusual lumps on the chest

The delay in recognizing symptoms, obtaining a diagnosis and beginning treatment makes the disease fatal. There is hope, however, due to the findings of a large population-based control study conducted in France.

In a six-year case control study, conducted between 1987 and 1993, and during eight years of the French National Mesothelioma Surveillance Program, between 1998 and 2006, researchers studied the cases of 2,466 men who had experienced asbestos exposure during their lives.

After making adjustments for the duration and intensity of each man's occupational exposure to asbestos, researchers made an interesting discovery: the risk for developing malignant pleural mesothelioma lessened for those exposed to asbestos after the age of 20 years old. Further, the longer the time since exposure, the lesser the chances of developing the disease.

Asbestos, the only known cause of mesothelioma, is a naturally occurring, fibrous mineral that was regularly used in manufacturing, construction and other industries until the 1980s. When the asbestos was disturbed, the fibers separated into fine particles that would lodge in the tissues of those who came in contact with it. These particles would cause irritation that led to tumors and the deadly mesothelioma years after initial contact.

According to Mayo Clinic, treatment options may include surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiation. However, most treatment of mesothelioma is administered simply to make the patient comfortable during his or her final days.

If you suspect that asbestos exposure has occurred, or if a diagnosis of mesothelioma has been made, it is important to consult with an attorney experienced in handling asbestos-related injuries.