Asbestos exposure leads to a rare and very deadly form of cancer known as mesothelioma. But despite the seriousness of this disease and the sky high mortality rate, many don’t know the basics about asbestos.
What is Asbestos and Where is Asbestos Found?
Asbestos is a mineral in the silicate family, which is the same family as sand and glass. Asbestos is found in long, fiber-like crystals.
Asbestos is favored in many industries and it’s used in the production of many materials because it’s relatively easy to mine and it has lots of favorable qualities including:
- heat and fire resistant;
- absorbs sound effectively;
- good tensile strength;
- resists chemical damage; and
- resists damage from electrical current.
Asbestos is found in lots of different products, including textured coatings, vinyl floor tiles, siding and shingles, the fire-proofed area around fireplaces and wood burning stoves, fingerprint dusting powder, pipe insulation, boiler coatings, ceiling tiles, fire doors, electrical boxes, wall cladding and even in old heat-resistant clothing and fire blankets.
Asbestos has been found in other items too, like children’s crayons and other toys.
What is Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is a very deadly form of cancer that’s caused by asbestos exposure.
Mesothelioma impacts the lining of your lungs, heart and abdomen. Pleural mesothelioma — that is, mesothelioma impacting the lining of the lungs — is the most common variety, impacting as many as one in ten people who are exposed to asbestos (more on pleural mesothelioma read here:
The two other forms of mesothelioma are peritoneal mesothelioma, which involves the abdominal cavity, and pericardial, which involves the heart.
You Can Get Exposed to Asbestos in Many Different Ways
Asbestos fibers can be swallowed or inhaled. Both forms of ingestion can ultimately lead to cancer.
Asbestos exposure can occur in many different ways, from handling commercial products (in particular, older building materials), to environmental exposure, and exposure as a result of your occupation or military service.
The states with the highest asbestos exposure rates include Washington state, Florida, California, Texas, North Carolina, Virginia, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Minnesota, Indiana, Illinois and Ohio. The states with the least number of deaths from asbestos-related mesothelioma were North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Vermont, Alaska and Delaware.
Millions of People Have Been Exposed to Asbestos
A whopping 11 million people were exposed to asbestos in the 38-year period from 1940 through 1978, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Many of these individuals are only now becoming symptomatic because mesothelioma symptoms have a long latency period. Symptoms will become apparent anywhere from 20 to 50 years after exposure. The average mesothelioma latency period is 47.9 years for men and 53.3 years for women.
Asbestos exposure leads to as many as 3,000 new mesothelioma cases each year in the United States alone. The U.S. saw 37,000 mesothelioma deaths (all stemming from asbestos exposure) in the period from 1999 through 2013.
Asbestos Exposure & Mesothelioma Demographics Are Broad
Men are several times more likely to be exposed to asbestos in the workplace or in the military. In fact, they are 4.6 times more likely than women to develop mesothelioma.
More than 9 in 10 individuals who are exposed to asbestos and ultimately develop mesothelioma are white, followed by Hispanics, Blacks, then Asians.
Younger patients have a better survival rate, with half of all people under the age of 50 surviving for one year after diagnosis. Of those age 75 and older, just 33% survive for one year post-diagnosis. (More on asbestos exposure at www.cancer.gov)
Asbestos Exposure Leads to a High Mesothelioma Mortality Rate
About 10% of people who are exposed to asbestos will develop mesothelioma at some point in time. Treatment for this form of cancer is multi-pronged, involving immunotherapy, radiation, chemotherapy and surgery.
Of those people, just 40% will survive for one year after diagnosis. Two years after diagnosis, the survival rate dips to 20%. By three years, a mere 10% of people are still alive. The five-year survival rate is very poor — a mere 8%.
Caucasians have a 7.6% five-year survival rate, while Blacks have a much better survival rate of 12.3% over five years.
Women have a markedly better survival rate when compared to men. According to one research study, 13.4% of female patients survived for five years, while just 4.5% of male patients survived for five years after diagnosis.
If you or a loved one has been exposed to asbestos and were later diagnosed with mesothelioma, you may be eligible to receive compensation. The experienced legal team at Mesowatch is available to assist by providing a free, confidential consultation.