Mesothelioma is a rare but aggressive type of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. Its development occurs in the mesothelial cells, which collects around some organs, forming a lining membrane called the mesothelium.
- Asbestos was widely used for about 100 years in industries like construction, shipbuilding and manufacturing, it was found to be toxic in the 20th century.
- Every year, there are 2,000 to 3,000 new cases of mesothelioma in the country, but the tendency is for the rate to decrease due to greater awareness to the risks of asbestos.
- About 80% of the cases of mesothelioma are related to asbestos exposure, but there are other reasons that may cause this type of cancer, including zeolites and radiation.
- Not everyone exposed to asbestos will develop the disease. However, 2 to 10% of people exposed end up suffering from pleural mesothelioma, the most common form of the disease.
- 70 to 90% of the cases of the disease are of pleural mesothelioma, between 10 and 30% are of peritoneal mesothelioma, 1% is pericardial mesothelioma, and less than 1% are testicular mesothelioma cases.
- According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) estimations, about 11 million people were exposed to asbestos between 1940 and 1978.
- In addition, an estimated 10,000 people in the United States continue to be exposed every year to asbestos, which means that about 20 million people are at risk of suffering from mesothelioma at some point of their lives in the US alone.
- The latency period, which is the time between exposure and the development of the disease, can take 20 to 50 years.
- The rate of mesothelioma is lower among women, and men are 4.6 times more likely to be diagnosed with mesothelioma.
- About 95% of all cases of mesothelioma patients are Caucasian while the disease is also more likely among Hispanics than Africans or Asians.
- Mesothelioma is also 10 times more common among people older than 60 than people younger than 40
- The average age at the time of diagnosis is 69 years old, according to the American Cancer Society.
- Between 1999 and 2013 alone, 37,000 people died from mesothelioma in the US, from which 2,497 deaths were registered in 2013.
- On average, 40% of the patients with mesothelioma survive at least a year after the diagnosis, but after two years the rate decreases to 20%, as well as to 10% after three years and to 8% after five years.
- At stage I mesothelioma, patients have an average survival rate of 21 months, while it decreases to 19 months at stage II mesothelioma, to 16 months at stage III mesothelioma, and to 12 months at stage IV mesothelioma.
- “Research shows that women diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma experience nearly three-fold better survival than men. One study reported that 13.4 percent of women survive for five years after treatment, compared to only 4.5 percent of men,” report The Mesothelioma Center.
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