Image source: National Cancer Institute
Mesothelioma is a rare cancer of the tissues that line the lungs, stomach, and abdomen. It develops when a person gets exposed to asbestos or its products. It accounts for less than 0.3% of all cancer cases in the United States. Although not common compared to other cancers, it is still malignant.
There are four types of this disease; pleural, pericardial, peritoneal, and testicular. The most common type is pleural, and it accounts for more than 75% of all mesothelioma diagnoses.
Here are some important mesothelioma facts you need to know:
Asbestos is a carcinogenic mineral that is slowly dwindling in popularity due to high occurrences of asbestos-related ailments like mesothelioma. It’s still not completely banned in the United States, although there are strict regulations on its usage.
Some states are known for their high rates of asbestos usage and asbestos-related fatalities due to the prevalence of mine sites and manufacturing industries. Industrialized cities like Pennsylvania, Idaho, Texas, and California are hotbeds for asbestos exposure. As a result, people who live in these cities are at a higher risk of getting mesothelioma.
Naturally occurring sources of asbestos can be found in some regions in the country, especially in the hilly and mountainous areas. Most of these deposits are less harmful until they are mined for commercial purposes. The central region of the United States is said to have the least proportion of naturally occurring asbestos raw materials. Therefore, residents in states like Wisconsin, Louisiana, and West Virginia, report fewer cases of this disease.
Despite strict government regulations, Americans will remain at the risk of developing mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases if commercial use of asbestos is not totally banned in the country.
Reported Cases Per Year
As of October 2021, there are 3,000 new cases of mesothelioma reported every year in the United States. Research shows that up to 1.3 million American workers are exposed to asbestos due to their occupation, and more than 20 million Americans are at risk of developing mesothelioma in their lifetime.
Diagnosis and Deaths
More than 45,000 Americans have died from mesothelioma between 1999 and 2015. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 2,599 deaths in the United States in 2015 alone.
The following states report the most mesothelioma cases per year: New York, Pennsylvania, Florida, Texas, and California. The State of California reports more mesothelioma fatalities than any other state in the country, followed by Pennsylvania and Florida.
The average life expectancy for mesothelioma patients is 12 to 21 months. It could vary depending on several factors, such as cell type, overall health, underlying medical conditions, stage of diagnosis, and type of mesothelioma.
Successful chemotherapy or surgery may increase a patient’s chances of living. Research shows that some mesothelioma patients can live for several months to years if it’s diagnosed and treated early enough.
Who Is at Risk?
People older than 60 are at a higher risk of developing mesothelioma. Typically, 65 years or older men who have a military or blue-collar work history are most likely to develop mesothelioma. However, anyone working in construction, manufacturing, shipbuilding, military, or power generation occupations is at risk of developing mesothelioma.
About 80% of reported mesothelioma deaths occurred among men between 1999 and 2015, and around 37% of these were between the age of 74 and 85.
Due to increased diagnosis in the 1960s and early 1970s, federal, state, and local asbestos regulations were put in place to safeguard workers and the general public. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are the two federal agencies that regulate asbestos usage in the United States.
Mesothelioma is an aggressive medical condition. Unfortunately, as of today, there is no known cure for this disease. It’s usually diagnosed at an advanced stage where the tumor spreads throughout the lining tissues of the affected organs. The reason is that patients do not show symptoms until later years of their lives.