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What Is the Most Common Cause of Mesothelioma?
The only known cause of mesothelioma is asbestos. Although asbestos is believed to be harmless if left undisturbed, asbestos dust can easily get released into the air, becoming deadly when inhaled or swallowed.
Since asbestos fibers are microscopic, people usually don’t even know they are being exposed to asbestos. What’s worse, once the fibers enter the body, they settle and remain there for life. This is because they get stuck in the linings of major organs, causing inflammation and scarring. As these organ linings are damaged, healthy cells can mutate and eventually cause cancerous tumors to grow.
Asbestos Exposure and Mesothelioma
of asbestos exposure. People who were exposed to asbestos are at risk of developing mesothelioma, lung cancer, or another asbestos-related cancer.
There is no safe level The latency period is long, meaning these cancers usually don’t appear for decades, even up to 50 years after asbestos exposure in some cases. Therefore, people often forget that they were ever even exposed, and where their exposure could have occurred.
For all of these reasons, the specific causes of mesothelioma are not always clear. However, the link between asbestos and cancer is undisputed.
How Many Mesothelioma Cases Are There Per Year?
According to the American Cancer Society, about 3,000 new mesothelioma cases are diagnosed in the United States each year.
The number of mesothelioma cases in the U.S. increased from the 1970s to the early 1990s, but they have since leveled off. On a global scale, though, we continue to see rising rates of new cases of mesothelioma, including mesothelioma deaths.
Who Is Most at Risk for Mesothelioma?
Over 20 million people in the U.S. are at risk of developing malignant mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure. Mesothelioma statistics point to risk factors — such as being male, a veteran, or having certain jobs — that make some populations more likely to develop the condition.
“Mesothelioma is more common in whites and Hispanics/Latinos than in African Americans or Asian Americans.”
— American Cancer Society
Additionally, incidence rates of mesothelioma in men have continued to rise in the past 50 years. An estimated 80% of mesothelioma patients are male, likely because occupational exposure is most common in jobs that employ more men than women.
However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that women in the same household are at greater risk due to take-home exposure. This occurs when asbestos fibers from clothing or hair are breathed in, often occurring while laundry is done.
Sadly, many mesothelioma diagnoses can be traced back to occupational exposure to asbestos. Even in recent years, people who work in the asbestos industry or around products containing the toxic material continue to be exposed.
“The incidence rate varies between less than 1 case per 100,000 persons in states with no asbestos industry to 2 to 3 cases per 100,000 persons in states with an asbestos industry.”
— American Cancer Society Journals
Since a partial ban on asbestos occurred in the United States in 1989, exposure to asbestos on the job is less common today. That said, workers in certain occupations remain at risk — especially those that involve working around two specific types of asbestos.
Crocidolite (or blue) asbestos is believed to be responsible for most asbestos-related diseases. When it was actively being used, it was common in cement, tile, and insulation manufacturing.
Amosite (or brown) asbestos is the second-most-commonly used type of asbestos in the U.S., and, alarmingly, one of the most deadly. It was used in cement, fire protection, gaskets, and tiles. Plumbers, roofers, and electrical workers are more likely to be exposed to brown asbestos on the job.
Additional occupations that could put people at risk for mesothelioma are:
- 9/11 first responders
- Automotive workers
- Construction workers
- Factory workers
- Gas mask manufacturers
- Railroad workers
- Shipbuilders and other shipyard workers
Sadly, more than 30% of mesothelioma cases occur in military veterans, especially the brave people who served in the U.S. Navy.
The mesothelioma age range for diagnosis tends to be between 60-80 years old. In fact, an estimated 80% of malignant mesothelioma cases occur in people 60 years or older, with the mesothelioma average age being 72 years old at diagnosis.
However, it is essential to understand that mesothelioma can develop at any age, with some patients being diagnosed as young as in their 30s. The sad reality is that anyone who has been exposed to asbestos could be at risk of mesothelioma today.
What Is the Most Common Type of Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma tumors can be made up of two types of cells — epithelial cells and sarcomatoid cells. Epithelioid mesothelioma is more common and easier to treat than sarcomatoid mesothelioma.
Some patients may have mesothelioma tumors that affect both epithelial and sarcomatoid cells. In these cases, the person is said to have biphasic mesothelioma (also known as mixed mesothelioma).
The type of mesothelioma a person develops is further categorized by which body parts it affects.
There are four types of mesothelioma:
- Pleural mesothelioma affects the lining of the lungs (pleura) and accounts for 70-85% of all cases.
- Peritoneal mesothelioma affects the linings of the abdomen (peritoneum) and makes up 10-25% of cases.
- Pericardial mesothelioma affects the lining of the heart (pericardium) and is rare, accounting for less than 1% of all cases.
- Testicular mesothelioma affects the lining of the testicles and is extremely rare, with only several hundred cases reported.
What Is the Survival Rate for Mesothelioma?
According to a 2013 study published by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), “since about 100% of those who develop malignant mesothelioma die of it, more than 100,000 US citizens are expected to die of MM during the next 40 years.”
Here are the average one-year survival rates for each stage of mesothelioma:
- Stage 1: ~60% will survive 1+ years after diagnosis (16% of pleural mesothelioma patients will survive 5+ years with treatment, as will 87% of peritoneal mesothelioma patients)
- Stage 2: ~60% will survive 1+ years after diagnosis (5-year survival rate for pleural mesothelioma: 13%; for peritoneal mesothelioma: 53%)
- Stage 3: ~50% will survive 1+ years after diagnosis (5-year survival rate for pleural mesothelioma: 11%; for peritoneal mesothelioma: 29%)
- Stage 4: ~30% will survive 1+ years after diagnosis (5-year survival rate for pleural mesothelioma)
However, when looking at survival statistics, it’s important to remember that they are based on many factors and do not reflect what will happen to everyone. The fight to end every type of cancer is ongoing, with clinical trials for breakthrough treatments happening every day, offering hope to patients and their loved ones.
The survival rates for the rarer forms of cancer are more difficult to predict since there is not as much data for researchers to interpret. These cancer types also tend to be more challenging to treat.
That said, pericardial mesothelioma patients will only live an average of six months after diagnosis. More encouragingly, over half of testicular mesothelioma patients will live at least five years after their diagnosis.
No matter what cancer statistics suggest, though, each mesothelioma patient is different, and many patients surpass the average life expectancy.
Pleural Mesothelioma Survival Rate
Malignant pleural mesothelioma occurs in the lining of the lung. Since it is the most common type of mesothelioma cancer, more data and research are available, ultimately making it easier to treat.
Pleural mesothelioma average survival rates are estimated at:
- 1 year: 73.1%
- 3 years: 22.9%
- 5 years: 12%
- 10 years: 4.7%
Peritoneal Mesothelioma Survival Rate
Peritoneal patients who undergo a treatment called cytoreduction with HIPEC (hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy) have an average life expectancy of 50 months.
Pericardial Mesothelioma Survival Rate
Pericardial mesothelioma, which affects the lining of the heart, is very difficult to treat. Sadly, a 2019 study found that the average life expectancy of pericardial mesothelioma patients was only 6 months from diagnosis.
Testicular Mesothelioma Survival Rate
Although it is extremely rare, testicular mesothelioma is easier to treat, with the 10-year survival rate being as high as almost 50%.
How Many People Have Died of Mesothelioma?
According to the CDC, at least 45,000 people have died from mesothelioma.
While the incidence of mesothelioma cases worldwide was expected to decrease as stricter regulations are being placed around asbestos use, this does not appear to be the case.
“…the number of new mesotheliomas per year and of deaths per year continue to increase both in high-resource countries and worldwide.”
— American Cancer Society Journals
Some reasons why people continue to die from mesothelioma may include:
- Environmental exposure risk is on the rise.
- Genetic mutations are linked with mesothelioma.
- Over 2 million tons of asbestos continues to be used worldwide per year.
- Populations are aging and mesothelioma is more common in older people.
- There is a countless amount of asbestos in place from past use, which can easily get disturbed.
Additionally, up to 25% of mesothelioma cases are not properly coded, which means the condition is likely responsible for more deaths than are officially recorded.
How Much Are Mesothelioma Treatment Costs?
According to some experts, mesothelioma treatment can cost $400,000-600,000 or more. Factors such as the cancer being rare and extremely fast-moving contribute to these high costs.
Often families facing a mesothelioma diagnosis have to travel to mesothelioma specialists and seek highly sophisticated and complex treatment options, which adds to the high costs.
What Is the Average Mesothelioma Settlement?
Over 99% of mesothelioma cases are settled out of court, and the average mesothelioma settlement amount is estimated at $1-1.4 million.
The main reason most of these cases are settled is the well-established link between asbestos exposure and mesothelioma. Generally speaking, the makers of asbestos-containing products expect lawsuits to occur and are prepared to negotiate a mesothelioma settlement.
In most cases, asbestos companies do not want the added cost of trying to defend expensive lawsuits they are very likely to lose. In fact, many of these companies already have money set aside in asbestos trust funds, compensation that’s available for their victims to claim.
An estimated $30 billion has been set aside in asbestos trust funds.
Mesothelioma Wrongful Death Settlements
There is no guaranteed dollar amount for families who wish to file mesothelioma wrongful death lawsuits. However, by looking at mesothelioma statistics for past cases, it’s possible to project what an average wrongful death settlement for mesothelioma may be.
Notable mesothelioma wrongful death settlements and verdicts include:
- $1.2 million for the family of a New York truck driver
- $1.57 million for the family of a 60-year-old Texas mechanic
- $1.9 million for the family of a Florida U.S. Navy veteran
- $2.69 million for the family of a California shipyard worker
- $2.86 million for the family of a 62-year-old factory worker
- $4.4 million for the family of an Illinois woman with secondary asbestos exposure
It is important to note that, in addition to the deceased’s family members, the executor of their estate can also file a wrongful death lawsuit.
How Can I Pursue Compensation for Mesothelioma?
Victims of asbestos exposure and their loved ones should not have to suffer on their own. Without help, these families can wind up not only battling a deadly disease, but also fighting to make ends meet – all because of the greedy asbestos companies that knew their products would take lives.
LawFirm.com can help connect you with the best asbestos lawyers in the nation. The mesothelioma attorneys in our network are experienced, empathetic, and they never charge upfront or out-of-pocket fees. They only get paid if your case results in compensation.
Mesothelioma claims are time-sensitive, so don’t wait. Reach out today for a free case review to see if you are owed money for medical bills and other losses.