If you have been exposed to asbestos, you might be wondering: what are the odds of getting mesothelioma? Mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer occurring in vital organs and has historically been acknowledged to be linked to asbestos exposure. There are roughly 3,000 cases per year in the United States, which has since decreased from the 20th century. It is also important to mention that “most people exposed to asbestos, even in large amounts, do not get mesothelioma” as described by the American Cancer Society. The likelihood of being diagnosed with a specific type of mesothelioma is found below.

Organ – Type of Mesothelioma – Symptoms – The Odds of Diagnosis

Lung Pleural Shortness of Breath, Persistent Cough 75-80%

Abdomen Peritoneal Constipation, Nausea, Abdomen Pain 15%

Heart Pericardial Chest Pain, Weight loss Less than 1%

Testicles Testicular Cysts, Increase in scrotum Less than 1%

The Common Cause of Mesothelioma

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral with heat-resistant properties and it was a valuable insulation material during the Industrial Revolution. The types are listed below.

Type – Qualities

Actinolite Sharp, needle-like

Amosite Brown, needle-like

Anthophyllite Brown, yellow, least common

Crocidolite Very hazardous, blue

Tremolite Green, needle-like

While this was the case, it was additionally discovered in 1942 that this mineral was also likely to cause severe health issues like mesothelioma. While companies were aware of this, they continued to use the material for insulating hot water pipes, steam pipes, paint, and tiles. The mineral was later banned in March 2024, given the number of individuals who were negatively impacted by the mineral. The number of individuals who have died from asbestos exposure from 1999-2017 is roughly “236,981 to 277,654 Americans” (Nation, 2017). It is important to mention that asbestos is only harmful when it is damaged or undergoes some form of demolition. When this occurs, the fibers are released into the air and are inhaled.

Flip Side of The Coin

To answer this question, it is important to look at the flip side of this coin, how many mesothelioma patients are exposed to asbestos? Penn Medicine claims that “Up to 80 percent of all mesothelioma cases result from primary exposure”. Primary exposure is defined as working directly with the asbestos or inhaling it directly. Other methods of exposure however include secondary exposure, radiation exposure, or having the BAP1 gene. The BAP1 gene is inherited and is recognized as tumor predisposition syndrome. Unfortunately, individuals with this gene are “at risk of developing malignant mesothelioma” (BAP1 Tumor Predisposition Syndrome: MedlinePlus Genetics, 2015). These different factors will impact your odds of getting mesothelioma.

Occupations at Risk

While there is no set limit of exposure that guarantees a mesothelioma diagnosis, there are occupations that are at higher risk of developing the disease. Historically, men have been more likely to develop the disease given the delay of women in the workforce, which gives them more opportunity for primary exposure, but “Non‐occupational exposure occurs predominantly in women” as reported by the National Library of Medicine. Some of the occupations warned by the CDC include:

· Auto mechanics

· Building inspectors

· Carpenters

· Demolition workers

· Drywallers

· Electricians

· Ironworkers

Odds of Survival

Unfortunately, due to the long latency period that is associated with mesothelioma, symptoms will not show up for 30-40 years, making it extremely difficult to detect exposure. Therefore, when diagnosis occurs there is a short survival period that follows. While it is possible to survive, the trajectory of a five-year life span following its diagnosis is “12% because it is usually diagnosed at a late stage” (Mesothelioma – Statistics, 2012). However, if it is discovered in the earlier stages, the likelihood of survival for a five-year survival period increases to 24%. You might be wondering about the in-between of these stages and what is recognized as stage 3 of the cancer diagnosis projects roughly 16% of survival and unfortunately decreases to roughly 7% in the beginning of stage 4.

If you or someone you know has been affected by mesothelioma in the state of Pennsylvania, please fill out this form for a free consultation or call 1 (800) 505-6000 for legal help.



https://www.waterskraus.com/louisiana/history-asbestos-discovery-personal-injury/#:~:text=Researchers%20first%20discovered%20the%20link,widely%20understood%20to%20be%20harmful. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6246071/



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