For decades, scientists have been studying the latency period of malignant mesothelioma. While researchers agree that no amount of asbestos is safe, numbers seem to indicate that the level of exposure, not the length, may determine who will get the disease and how long it may remain latent.
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What’s the problem?
One of the primary challenges in diagnosing mesothelioma is its latency period, or the amount of time between initial exposure to asbestos and the appearance of symptoms. Of all forms of cancer and asbestos disease, the mesothelioma latency period is by far the longest, usually measured in decades.
According to most experts, in the case of mesothelioma the latency period ranges from 20 to 50 years after initial exposure to asbestos occurred, though there have been instances when the time period was shorter or longer. Due to the long latency period associated with the cancer, those exposed to asbestos during the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s are beginning to demonstrate mesothelioma symptoms today, decades after they were exposed to asbestos.
Mesothelioma Latency Period
Mesothelioma’s latency period is classified into three groups of patients. Here is how health care professionals categorize them:
- 1. Patients with high levels of exposure of a short duration
- 2. Victims with high levels of exposure of long duration
- 3. Sufferers with low levels of exposure of long duration
The highest asbestos burden and the shortest latency times have been shown in patients who were occupationally exposed during jobs surrounded by asbestos and insulation industries and in shipyards. Although asbestos consciousness and mesothelioma information have significantly improved, the very long latency period of mesothelioma is a critical factor that contributes to its poor prognosis. This is why the disease remains unnoticed for a long period of time compared to other forms of cancers. All cancers tend to have a better prognosis when discovered early.
Scientists are still researching to find ways through technological advances that can aid in the discovery and treatment of this aggressive cancer, but there’s no chance to turn back the clock and prevent exposure that may have happened decades ago. When the disease finally reveals itself in physical symptoms, it has likely progressed to an advanced stage during this latency period.
Do I have a Mesothelioma Lawsuit?
The Toxic Tort Litigation Group at our law firm is an experienced team of trial lawyers that focus exclusively on the representation of plaintiffs in asbestos-related mesothelioma lawsuits. We are handling individual litigation nationwide and currently accepting new cases in all 50 states.