Mesothelioma Facts

The time after a mesothelioma diagnosis can leave someone feeling lost and uncertain. We understand that oftentimes people in that situation crave more knowledge to help them better understand their disease. To that end, our mesothelioma lawyers compiled statistics, facts, and figures that may shed some light on the disease.

  • Around 3,000 people in America are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year.
  • The three most common symptoms of mesothelioma are chronic coughing, chest pain, and shortness of breath.
  • According the American Cancer Society, the median survival time for mesothelioma is 21 months if doctors catch it at stage I, and 12 months if doctors do not catch it until stage IV.
  • The five year survival rate for mesothelioma is between 5 and 10 percent.
  • Mesothelioma comes in three common forms: pleural (affecting the lungs), peritoneal (affecting the abdomen), and pericardial (affecting the heart)
  • Of these three types pleural makes up approximately 75 percent of cases, peritoneal makes up approximately 10 to 20 percent of cases, and pericardial makes up approximately 1 to 6 percent of cases.
  • Mesothelioma has a long latency period, meaning most cases do not develop until 20 to 50 years after the person’s exposure to asbestos.
  • Tens of thousands of people around the world die from mesothelioma each year, according to the World Health Organization.
  • Asbestos is the leading cause of cancer related to people’s occupations.
  • The EPA estimates that as many as 27 million people may have been exposed to asbestos at their jobs between 1940 and 1980.
  • Each year America still uses 30 million pounds of asbestos.
  • According to the EPA, most of the primary and secondary schools in the country contain asbestos. This is also true of most public and commercial buildings. However, not all asbestos in buildings is dangerous. Only friable asbestos, asbestos that can easily break down into dust, is harmful, so asbestos removal may not be recommended in some buildings. This is especially true since it may pose more of a health hazard during removal than when it is sedentary.
  • The leading cause of asbestos related death is not actually mesothelioma, but is instead lung cancer.
  • A smoker who was exposed to asbestos may be as much as 90 times more likely to develop lung cancer than a non-smoker who never suffered asbestos exposure. For comparison, smokers who have not been exposed to asbestos are only 15 to 30 times more likely to develop lung cancer than non-smokers.
  • According to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, there is no safe level of asbestos. Consequently, permissible levels of asbestos exposure have been constantly declining as technology improves. The first regulations set the limit at 12 fibers per cubic cm. The current regulations limit it to 0.1 fibers per cubic cm.
  • Although members of the armed forces make up only 10 percent of the population, they represent approximately one third of all mesothelioma facts of victims.

Navy veterans are a particularly high risk group for mesothelioma because the US Navy used large amounts of asbestos in building its ships between the 1930s and the 1970s.


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