Mesothelioma has an extremely long latency period. The term “latency” in a medical context refers to the period of time between the start of a disease and the point at which the symptoms make themselves apparent.
It Can Take Decades for Symptoms to Appear
The mesothelioma latency period is usually estimated as being roughly between 15 and 40 years, though there have been cases in which the latency was as short as five years or as long as 50 years after the exposure to asbestos occurred.
For instance, an emergency medical technician in New York City’s fire department died of mesothelioma in early 2006, about five years after she incurred very heavy asbestos exposure by working as a first responder at the World Trade Center after Sept. 11, 2001. However, her case was rather unusual in that her work involved breathing in very high levels of airborne asbestos fibers at Ground Zero.
Most other mesothelioma cancer patients have been subjected to asbestos at somewhat lower levels but for much longer periods of time. Persons who worked in asbestos-heavy jobs such as mining and shipbuilding or who spent their military service working with asbestos products have shown latencies that date from the 1940s (during World War II).
The Latency Depends on the Type of Asbestos Exposure
The mesothelioma latency period is often dependent on which of three groups a patients belongs to:
- Individuals with high levels of exposure of a short duration
- Those with high levels of exposure of long duration
- Those with low levels of exposure of long duration
The last in this group is most likely to have the longest mesothelioma latency period. Those with higher exposure often have shorter latency periods.
Who Is At Risk?
Mesothelioma patients are often between 40 and 60 years old. While children can have mesothelioma, it is rare, occurring in less than 5 percent of all cases. Patients older than 70 are particularly at risk. In the 1960s, asbestos was very common, so individuals working in certain industries at that time should watch for any potential symptoms now.
More Information about Mesothelioma Latency
Because of its extremely long latency period compared to other cancers, victims sometimes don’t realize that they may have had exposure for which a company may be directly responsible. If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related illness, contact a lawyer to discuss treatment and legal options. An experienced attorney can help you navigate the legal landscape through this difficult time. Contact Mesothelioma Treatment Centers for assistance today.