Mesothelioma is almost always highly malignant and often leads to mortality within just a few years. Cases of this deadly disease have been steadily growing, and while asbestos is now banned in most countries, it seems that many more people are destined to be affected by it.
Asbestos and Mesothelioma History
The first documented cases of mesothelioma cancer occurred in the early 1940s, but as we understand it now, the cancer takes root early and lies dormant in its hosts. It can take anywhere from 20 years to 50 years from the time of asbestos exposure for mesothelioma to actually manifest itself. It is this period of dormancy that made the link between asbestos and mesothelioma so difficult to establish. While those who experienced prolonged exposure to asbestos are more likely to get this type of cancer, even people who were only exposed for a few months are sometimes at risk.
Early indications of mesothelioma cancer, and the dangers of inhaling asbestos, came about in the very early 1900s in Great Britain. Serious lung disease started to become a major problem for people working in factories that used asbestos. It wasn�t until 1930, however, that the British government launched a study to determine the link between asbestos and lung disease. Due to its long dormant period, the link between asbestos and mesothelioma took much longer to discover. While there was a lot of evidence pointing to the relationship between mesothelioma cancer and asbestos fibers, the asbestos industry was very profitable and many of its companies made little effort to try and establish a connection.
It wasn�t until the 1950s that a South African medical researcher discovered the exact link between asbestos and mesothelioma. He studied 33 cases of severe lung diseases � and 32 of those cases had been heavily exposed to asbestos. Unfortunately, even in the face of this evidence, businesses and governments were slow to move and many companies that owned asbestos mines and factories actually tried to discredit the report or hide its findings. Thus, during that period, very few people who worked with asbestos were ever alerted to the dangers that they faced from mesothelioma and other serious illnesses.
Today, many people are aware of the relationship between asbestos and the diseases that it causes. Asbestos is considered a serious occupational hazard for over 1.3 million workers in America alone. Those who work in the construction and building renovation industries are the most at risk for developing the disease. Many veterans were exposed during the war and many who worked in factories building ships, submarines, and armored vehicles fell victim to this disease. As the cases of mesothelioma and other related illnesses continue to grow each year, it is clear that, even with the prohibitions on asbestos and the widespread release of medical information, the problem is far from over. The United States is presently considering a full ban on the use of asbestos. According to recent reports, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has plans to phase out the use of asbestos within the next decade.
Mesothelioma Treatment and Prognosis
Unfortunately, as of this writing, there is no known cure for mesothelioma. While the cancer does sometimes respond to treatment in the form of chemotherapy, radiation, or surgery, these measures are merely palliative. Even with the best treatment, most people do not survive more than 5 years after being diagnosed with the disease. This is why programs dedicated to information awareness and to the prevention of asbestos exposure are extremely important to help insure that additional individuals are not exposed to this potentially deadly material and put at risk for mesothelioma.