Mesothelioma is a rare and deadly form of cancer, often affecting the thin lining of tissue around the lungs or abdomen, caused by exposure to a flaky white mineral called asbestos. One of the most striking characteristics about the disease is the latency period between asbestos exposure and showing cancer symptoms.
Typically, the latency period for mesothelioma is anywhere from 20 to 50 years after exposure, which can complicate diagnosis since many symptoms present themselves as age-related conditions. Unfortunately, by the time doctors do make a mesothelioma diagnosis, the disease has often progressed to the point where fewer treatment options are available.
However, the latency period for an individual depends on many different factors including age, duration of exposure, and even gender. According to some studies, shorter and less intense exposure to asbestos can contribute to a longer latency period, while longer exposure to asbestos, particularly in certain industrial occupations, can manifest in a shorter latency period.
Furthermore, latency periods can depend on the type of mesothelioma. The most common form of the disease is pleural mesothelioma which affects the lining of tissue around the lungs and can take an average of 30 to 50 years to develop. Often times, pleural mesothelioma victims develop asbestosis prior to the cancer, but it remains unclear if a clear causation exists between one and the other.
The second most common form of the cancer is peritoneal mesothelioma and affects the tissue surrounding the abdominal organs. The average latency period for peritoneal mesothelioma is slightly less than pleural mesothelioma at 46 years, but can take anywhere from 20 to 40 years in many cases. Mesothelioma is also known to metastasize, or spread to other parts of the body, including the heart and brain and can occur years after diagnosis and aggressive medical treatment by doctors.
How Age and Gender Affect Mesothelioma Diagnosis
Studies indicate that age and gender may also be factors in the duration of latency periods of mesothelioma cancer. Women tend to have longer latency periods than men, which may be an occupational factor since men have historically performed jobs where first hand asbestos exposure is a concern and women typically face second-hand exposure from asbestos on a male family member’s clothes.
While the science has yet to be settled on the role that age plays in developing mesothelioma during asbestos exposure, many researchers theorize that the weaker immune systems of older victims can contribute to statistically smaller latency periods. However, it may be more likely that latency periods have more to do with the overall level and duration of exposure rather than the age of the victim by itself.
Nationwide Mesothelioma Lawyer
If you or a loved one is diagnosed with mesothelioma, contact our office to speak to one of our experienced nationwide mesothelioma attorneys about your situation. We can help investigate your case and determine if compensation can be sought from negligent parties to help pay for your medical treatment to help you and your family live a more comfortable life.