Understanding Mesothelioma: From Risk Factors to Diagnosis

Malignant mesothelioma, though a notably rare ailment, often eludes early diagnosis due to its symptoms closely mimicking common diseases. Many patients, unaware of their history with asbestos exposure, tend to sideline their symptoms, frequently resorting to over-the-counter medications. However, when their conditions deteriorate, many without prior knowledge of asbestos contact end up misdiagnosed. Symptoms of pleural mesothelioma can be mistaken for bronchitis or pneumonia, while those of peritoneal mesothelioma might be diagnosed as gastroenteritis. This misdiagnosis results in valuable time lost, treating an entirely different disease.

This elusive nature of mesothelioma is further compounded by its rarity. With only about 3,500 diagnosed cases annually in the US, most medical professionals rarely encounter it. This lack of awareness underlines the importance of patients communicating any known asbestos exposure to their healthcare providers, which can significantly help in correctly diagnosing the disease. This is especially pertinent for men over 65 with blue-collar or military backgrounds, given the rampant use of asbestos in these sectors. For instance, industries such as construction, manufacturing, power generation, and shipbuilding were heavily reliant on asbestos products. Additionally, secondary exposure, usually affecting the families of asbestos workers, has also been a significant factor leading to mesothelioma.

Delving deeper into the demographics, in 2019, 74% of mesothelioma cases were found in men, largely because historically, they held more asbestos-associated jobs than women. This gender distinction extends to the latency period (the time between asbestos exposure and the disease’s manifestation) as well. Men typically showcase a shorter latency due to higher exposure in occupational settings, while women, often victims of secondary exposure, have a longer latency period. Age-wise, the majority of the patients are diagnosed between ages 75 and 80, with the risk tenfold for those over 60 than those under 40. This pattern is attributed to the prolonged latency of 20-60 years post-exposure, meaning the older generation is more susceptible. The average age of diagnosis varies with the type, with pleural mesothelioma typically seen at about 67 years and peritoneal at 51. Despite its long latency, what remains puzzling for researchers is the shorter latency period for peritoneal mesothelioma, which takes 20 to 40 years, compared to pleural mesothelioma’s 30 to 60 years.

Here at the Halpern Law Firm, we are here for victims of mesothelioma. We want to make sure that all victims of mesothelioma get the compensation they deserve. If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma and are interested in receiving compensation, call 800-505-6000 for a free case evaluation today. We are available 24/7.


Written By Jeff Nelson

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