Malignant mesothelioma is a fatal disease caused by exposure to asbestos. A form of cancer, this disease can affect the sac lining, the chest or the abdomen. An unusual aspect about this disease is that it does not often manifest itself until years following the asbestos exposure – in fact, manifestation time can be as long as 30-40 years, and in some cases even 50 years later.
In previous years, asbestos was widely used in many places. Many people worked with this deadly material, unaware that several decades later it would be the death of them. Workers such as insulators, plasterers, electricians, mechanics, bricklayers, carpenters, and other tradesmen were exposed to asbestos on a daily basis as it was contained in many insulation and construction materials.
However, it is not only those that were regularly exposed to asbestos that are at risk. There have been many cases of mesothelioma manifestation in people that were only exposed to asbestos for a short period of time. In fact, the disease has even been known to affect people who have had only minimal contact, such as wives that used to wash their husbands overalls after they had worked with asbestos.
From the 1950s to the 1970s, asbestos was so widely used in a range of everyday materials, that millions of workers and their loved ones were exposed to it. The cost-effectiveness of asbestos as an insulation material meant that it was used in all sorts of places. At that time, the public and the workers were not aware of the dangers of working with asbestos.
However, several decades later it became apparent that this exposure to asbestos had cursed many people with a serious form of cancer, mesothelioma.
This killer disease tends to affect men considerably more than women, and tends to manifest at approximately 50-70 years of age. Because of the length of time before symptoms show, it is usually in the later stages by the time it is diagnosed. Therefore, the average survival time is only twelve months, although some can reach two years and there have been cases of survival up to five years.
Although the dangers of asbestos exposure have now been recognized, millions of people worldwide have already been exposed to it. These people spent their working lives being exposed to asbestos each and every day, and now live in fear of the dreaded disease that can result from this exposure.
Every year, thousands of new cases of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related cancers are diagnosed. This figure is expected to increase over the next decade or so, and many unsuspecting middle-aged and elderly people will find that they have been harboring this deadly cancer for the past few decades.
It is not only those that worked with asbestos that are at risk. The loved ones of these workers who may have had minimal exposure, as well as people who lived close to asbestos mines are also at risk of developing mesothelioma. Sadly, due to the latency period of the disease, where it lies dormant for many years or decades, it is usually too late to save the patient by the time a diagnosis has been made.
Now that it is known that mesothelioma and other types of cancer were caused by asbestos exposure, many of the people who worked with the material and have been diagnosed with related diseases have become eligible to claim compensation.
Of course, this does not make up for the fact that these people have been exposed to deadly material and could be dying from a malignant form of cancer. However, it is a way of recognizing their suffering and pain. Those who have lost a loved one through asbestos-related cancer may also be eligible.
It is now widely known that asbestos exposure is responsible for malignant mesothelioma and other forms of cancer, as well as being the cause of many serious respiratory problems. However, worryingly, this deadly material can still be found in insulation materials in many places worldwide.