Individuals who were exposed to asbestos either at work or by second-hand exposure often have many questions about whether they may be at risk for developing mesothelioma, a deadly and incurable lung disease linked to asbestos. While the dangers of asbestos have been known for many decades, the signs and symptoms of mesothelioma can take an equally long time to manifest themselves, which can make the disease difficult to understand.
Mesothelioma is an aggressive and deadly form of cancer that affects a thin line of tissue surrounding the body’s internal organs, most often the lungs and abdomen. Although the overwhelming majority of people exposed to asbestos will not develop mesothelioma, about 2,000 to 3,000 are diagnosed every year with the aggressive cancer.
While each case is different, most individuals exposed to asbestos that eventually develop mesothelioma will not do so for anywhere from 20 to 50 years. During that time, other health conditions with similar symptoms can mask the signs of mesothelioma caused by exposure to asbestos and delay diagnosis and treatment.