Asbestos exposure occurs when it is inhaled or asbestos fibres are swallowed. Everyone will breathe in asbestos from the outside air but these tiny amounts are unlikely to cause any future health problems. When asbestos products start to deteriorate, it is cut, sanded, drilled or disturbed in any way then microscopic fibres enter the air , these fibres can remain the air for hours, placing anyone nearby in danger. Once they have been inhaled, they become trapped in the respiratory tract and lungs, they then may stay there for life. Overtime, asbestos fibres will accumulate in the lungs and cause scarring and inflammation. This can cause breathing difficulties and lead to cancer and other illnesses. It may take between 10 to 50 years after the exposure for symptoms to manifest.
There are 4 types of Mesothelioma cancer:
Pleural Mesothelioma – this develops in the lining of the lungs. This is the most common type of Mesothelioma cancer which is found in 75% of all cases.
Peritoneal Mesothelioma – this develops in the lining of the abdomen, approximately 20% of cases are peritoneal. Pericardial Mesothelioma – this develops in the exterior lining of the heart. This is a rare type of Mesothelioma and accounts for about 1% of all cases.
Doctors can offer three treatments to patients who are diagnosed with Mesothelioma: Surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Overall, older Mesothelioma patients have a lower survival rate than younger ones. The reason being is that younger patients are eligible for more intensive treatment like surgery. Whereas the older generation may not be offered such treatment due to poor overall health or a high risk of complications.
Mesothelioma Deaths by Age Range: 1999 – 2005