Nothing leads to mesothelioma more often than asbestos exposure. Though it does happen occasionally in children and young people who do not have an easily documented history of exposure, most people who get the disease are older and have faced a high level of exposure in their lives. It usually takes decades — 20 to 50 years — for the cancer to develop after a person gets exposed.
With this in mind, if you are getting exposed to asbestos regularly — maybe you find out that it’s in the water supply or in the dust that you breathe in at work — the best thing to do is to end that exposure immediately. Do not take any chances. Mesothelioma has a high fatality rate, and you must stop the exposure to asbestos as soon as you can.
A life-long risk
That said, even getting away from risk factors after you discover them may not help prevent the onset of mesothelioma. According to the American Cancer Society, the “risk appears to be lifelong” and it “does not go down over time” even after you eliminate your own personal exposure to asbestos.
Remember, there is a very long wait time with this disease, sometimes taking 50 years for it to develop after a person gets exposed to asbestos. By the time you discover the risk and eliminate it, you may already have passed a crucial point where your exposure is going to lead to cancer. Just because you do not have it yet or do not develop it in the next year or two does not mean that you got out of the situation without serious ramifications. You still have a massively elevated risk, compared to someone who never got exposed to asbestos in the first place.
On top of that, the ACS notes that some other factors may play a role as well. They believe that some people have a genetic disposition to cancer and may face higher risks than others, even if both people had the same level of exposure. They also note that having undergone radiation treatments at some point in your life — perhaps for another type of cancer — may make it more likely that you get mesothelioma.
All of this works together to show that mesothelioma is a serious, lifelong concern that you must consider carefully.
If you do get diagnosed with mesothelioma, you need to know what legal rights you have. The treatment can get very expensive, it may end your career, and you also want to consider the costs to your family if the disease means they end up losing you long before they should.