You may have heard about mesothelioma from television or former coworkers, but it was probably not a risk on your radar. After all, there was likely much more on your plate, with your family and the daily activities of your life.
However, if you were exposed to asbestos in your career or otherwise, you may wonder: what is the risk of being diagnosed with mesothelioma?
First: What do the statistics say?
What is the risk of mesothelioma? Since asbestos is a known carcinogen, any exposure to asbestos is dangerous. However, the risk of mesothelioma increases with the amount of exposure.
Regarding the risk of a mesothelioma diagnosis, here are the average statistics according to the American Cancer Society:
- There are 3,000 new cases of mesothelioma each year
- The average age of diagnosis is 72
- It is usually diagnosed at a late stage
The latency period of mesothelioma—that is, how long the disease takes to develop in your body—is long, usually falling anywhere between 20 and 50 years. This is why so many individuals receive a diagnosis later in life and in later stages.
These statistics are not meant to frighten anyone. However, they are critical to know.
So, what steps can you take?
If you know or suspect you were exposed to asbestos in the past, and worry about a potential mesothelioma diagnosis, there are some measures you can take. Consider these “Three Be’s”:
- Be proactive: Make sure your health care providers are aware of your history of asbestos exposure. Think about obtaining regular physicals and even scheduling special screenings for mesothelioma or lung cancer. If you are diagnosed, this could help you catch the disease early, and obtain treatment sooner.
- Be on the lookout: Watch for signs and symptoms of mesothelioma. It is also beneficial to keep a record of any symptoms you may experience. Having a history of your symptoms can help you feel more confident in medical visits.
- Be informed: It is not a popular topic to discuss or even think about, but if you worry about past exposure to asbestos, make sure you understand it. Research the risks of asbestos exposure, and the industries that faced the highest risk. If you were exposed, it is also a good idea to learn about your legal options , and your opportunities and options to recover compensation.
If you were exposed to asbestos, take the risk of mesothelioma seriously, but you can feel confident as you move forward.