Prolonged asbestos exposure can lead to mesothelioma, a cancer of the tissue that lines the lungs, heart, stomach and other organs. About 3,000 new mesothelioma cases are diagnosed yearly in the U.S. And the number was high from the 1970s to the early 1990s.
This guide discusses this matter:
Mesothelioma has a lengthy latency period
It can take 20 to 60 years before someone exposed to asbestos fibers shows symptoms of mesothelioma. It’s rare for mesothelioma to have a latency period of under 15 years. This is why most cases involve older individuals.
Why the difference in latency period?
Different factors contribute to the difference in latency period. The first one is the frequency of exposure. People who worked in a plant that contained asbestos and were continually exposed can show symptoms within 20 years. However, the latency period can be longer if one was not exposed to it daily or experienced secondhand exposure, particularly family members of those who worked with asbestos.
The fiber type can also affect the latency period. People exposed to crocidolite have reported shorter latency periods than those exposed to other types of asbestos fibers.
The location of the tumor may also determine how soon one will show symptoms. Peritoneal mesothelioma (cancer in the tissue lining the abdomen) has a shorter latency period than pleural mesothelioma (cancer in the tissue lining the lungs and chest wall).
Will it be too late?
Most mesothelioma cases are discovered in the later stages due to the latency period. However, with the advancement of technology, healthcare providers are working to detect this cancer type sooner. Further, a wide array of treatments for different stages is available.
If you or your loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you should obtain more information about your case to fight for your rights.