Close this search box.
Call Us
Call Us

The Latency Period For Mesothelioma

Key takeaways: The latency period for mesothelioma refers to the time elapsed between exposure to asbestos and the development of mesothelioma, a malignant cancer of the tissues surrounding the lungs. Analytical studies conducted in Italy and Korea both found a shorter latency period in occupational exposure to asbestos rather than second-hand or environmental. This has implications for anticipating future latency times, as researchers have found a significant link.

What is a Latency Period for Mesothelioma?

Asbestos is a naturally occurring group of minerals known for their sturdy, insulating properties. They were used in industrial mills, to insulate houses, construct water pipes, and were mined in the natural environment. You can check out a more exhaustive list of occupations known to have asbestos exposure here. Importantly, asbestos exposure does not mean immediate consequences: there is a well-documented latency period between asbestos exposure and the onset of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases. This latency period describes the amount of time that elapses between exposure and onset, with the average amount of time for asbestos-related diseases being over 40 years. While the phenomenon of the latency period is well understood, its biological and/or environmental justifications are less understood. We have established that it exists; we do not necessarily understand why it exists (and why the length varies depending on each patient). We will explore retrospective review studies that have been conducted in different countries that seek to understand the latency period of mesothelioma.



Italy banned asbestos use and production in 1992; however, up until that point, they were massive producers of the product. There were hundreds of thousands of tons generated and used each year, with the peak years of utilization occurring between 1976-1979. After banning asbestos, Italy instituted a national mesothelioma registry, which documents all mesothelioma cases in the country. This includes data like patient health history, survival, and treatment(s) administered. Importantly, the registry doesn’t document possible asbestos exposures, as it would be difficult to pinpoint with accuracy.

The retrospective analysis study sought to identify possible links between latency time and other factors, like age, extent of exposure, and occupation, sex, and morphology (in which type of cell the mesothelioma originates). The researchers found that “Latency length appeared related to the age at diagnosis, the year of diagnosis and the modalities of asbestos exposure,” (Marinaccio et al.). They also found a “shorter latency period observed among occupationally exposed subjects with respect to those environmentally and household exposed,” (Marinaccio et al.). So, multiple factors contributed to the latency period; this makes its tracing and eventual application difficult for future cases.



Korea banned the production, import, and usage of asbestos in 2009 (notably, much later than Italy). The country’s use of asbestos peaked in 1992, and the latency period is reaching its peak now. The researchers of the Korean analysis used data collected by the Ministry of Environment and included 3,902 people in its study.

Again, similar to the Italian study, the Korean study hoped to identify links between asbestos and latency period. They asked questions like: does environmental or occupational exposure matter in terms of the length of the latency period? Does sex contribute to the latency period? Does repeated versus intermittent exposure contribute to the latency period? etc. The researchers found that the “…latency of patients exposed to occupational asbestos was shorter in mesothelioma and lung cancer than in patients exposed to environmental asbestos,” (Huh et al.). This was in line with what Italian researchers noted, too. Excitingly, this establishes a contemporary link between exposure, latency, and onset, and will provide the foundation for future studies.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, please call The Halpern Law Firm at (800) 505-6000. We are here to help you navigate the legal process of filing a claim to receive compensation for your cancer diagnosis. We help mesothelioma victims and their families in Pennsylvania.

  • Huh, D.-A., Chae, W.-R., Choi, Y.-H., Kang, M.-S., Lee, Y.-J., & Moon, K.-W. (2022). Disease Latency according to Asbestos Exposure Characteristics among Malignant Mesothelioma and Asbestos-Related Lung Cancer Cases in South Korea. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 19(23), 15934.
  • Marinaccio, A., Binazzi, A., Cauzillo, et al. (2007). Analysis of latency time and its determinants in asbestos related malignant mesothelioma cases of the Italian register. European Journal of Cancer, 43(18), 2722–2728.

Written By Carina Filemyr


Don’t Wait—Contact an Experienced Pennsylvania Mesothelioma Attorney Today!

Now that you know the mesothelioma statute of limitations in Pennsylvania, contact an experienced attorney from our firm to represent your case before time runs out.

At Halpern Law Firm, we help clients throughout Pennsylvania, with offices in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Allentown, Scranton and Johnstown. Call us today for a free consultation at (800) 505-6000.


author avatar
David brenton


Sidebar Contact Form