Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that is caused by exposure to asbestos. It has a long latency period, meaning that symptoms may not appear until many years after exposure. Asbestos was widely used in industry from the end of the Second World War until the mid-1970s, and it is still present in some old buildings. Approximately 3,000 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma annually in the United States, accounting for less than 0.3% of the total incidence rate of mesothelioma in the US.
The median survival of patients with testicular mesothelioma after diagnosis is 2-3 months. Research has shown that 80% of all cases of mesothelioma are due to known exposure to asbestos. When asbestos fibers are inhaled or ingested, they cause scarring and inflammation, which can develop into a mesothelioma tumor. It is possible for a person to die from another cause while mesothelioma remains dormant.
Other risk factors, such as the genes you inherit or exposure to the simian virus 40 (SV40), have not been shown to cause mesothelioma. In some cases of pleural mesothelioma (pleurectomy), surgical removal of the lining of the chest (pleura) may be performed. If you have respiratory symptoms or other signs of mesothelioma and have a history of exposure to asbestos, talk to your doctor about screening for the disease. Mesothelioma doctors will order CT imaging and other tests based on your history of exposure to asbestos to determine if you are developing mesothelioma.
This may involve inserting an endoscope with a camera on the end into the chest to take a sample of tumor tissue suspected of being mesothelioma.Mesothelioma can be difficult to diagnose because early-stage symptoms are usually mild or non-existent. In general, only a small fraction of people exposed to asbestos or other causative agents of mesothelioma actually develop the disorder. Anyone who has been in contact with asbestos can develop mesothelioma cancer, regardless of how or how often they have been exposed. However, certain groups of people may be more likely to get mesothelioma from exposure to asbestos, such as those who worked in industries where asbestos was used and those who lived with someone who worked in such an industry.The exact incidence or prevalence of mesothelioma is unknown, but the disorder certainly accounts for less than 1% of all forms of cancer.
If you think you may have been exposed to asbestos, call 1-800-966-2244 for more information about mesothelioma and how it can be treated.