Mesothelioma Statistics & Facts

Question the general public about the cancer known as mesothelioma and information you'll probably find that few individuals know little or anything at all about the disease. However, ask someone who worked with asbestos and they can probably expound on the dangers of developing the disease among people in their profession. Mesothelioma, though rare in comparison to other types of cancer, still remains a serious threat today.
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Mesothelioma Rates

Currently there is no cure for mesothelioma. However, early detection tests and new medications and therapies have begun to lengthen the life expectancy of today's mesothelioma patients. Nonetheless, the disease remains a very aggressive form of cancer and survival rates depend on age, overall health of the patient, and the type of mesothelioma the patient is battling. In general, the average length of survival reported throughout the last five years has been 10 to 11 months after diagnosis.

Mesothelioma Facts

  • Mesothelioma is almost exclusively caused by asbestos exposure.
  • Most mesothelioma patients were occupationally exposed to asbestos. A small percentage of patients received secondary exposure from a family member who worked with asbestos and brought the fibers home on clothing, skin and hair. Others were environmentally exposed to natural asbestos deposits or resided near an asbestos mine or processing facility.
  • Because mesothelioma symptoms do not arise until later stages of development, the majority of mesothelioma patients are diagnosed in a late stage of cancer development.
  • Early detection of the cancer can greatly improve a patient's prognosis since more treatment options are available in the early stages of development.
  • Many mesothelioma patients are veterans due to the widespread exposure experienced while serving in the Navy or other armed forces.

Mesothelioma Numbers

  • Approximately 2,000 to 3,000 new cases are reported each year in the U.S.
  • Three times more men than women develop the disease.
  • Approximately 80 percent of diagnosed cases can be directly linked to a job where asbestos was present.
  • Mesothelioma typically has a latency period of 20 to 50 years.
  • The average age of a mesothelioma patient has historically been about 65 years old.
  • The five-year relative survival rate for mesothelioma patients is about 10 percent. The one-year survival rate stands at about 40 percent.

Exposure Facts

  • Not everyone who is exposed to asbestos will develop an asbestos-related disease. However, long-term exposure does indeed increase an individual's possibility.
  • Individuals who do not directly work with asbestos can develop mesothelioma through secondary exposure.
  • Short-term exposure to large amounts of asbestos can also cause mesothelioma, such as in the case of emergency workers at the World Trade Center attacks.

Facts about Risk

  • Those who worked in industries that made widespread use of asbestos are at high risk for developing mesothelioma. Such occupations include shipyard workers, insulators, construction workers, welders, plumbers, electricians, steamfitters, pipefitters, boilermakers, railroad workers, chemical plant workers, power plant workers, miners and auto mechanics.
  • People who smoke and have been exposed to asbestos are more likely to develop mesothelioma than individuals who do not smoke. In addition, patients with asbestosis who smoke are at a much higher risk for developing mesothelioma.
  • Individuals who live with people who work with asbestos are also at high risk for developing mesothelioma. 
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