Whenever something is unfamiliar and poorly understood, it is easy to form misconceptions. This has proven to be true of mesothelioma, a rare and deadly form of cancer that is diagnosed in only 3,500 people per year. There are a number of common myths about mesothelioma that are based on a lack of readily available information, misunderstandings, and falsehoods spread by the asbestos industry. It is important for patients and their friends and families to learn what is true about the disease so that they are best able to support their loved ones and raise awareness about the disease.
Myth #1: Mesothelioma is Caused by Smoking
This is not true. It is also not true that people who smoke are more likely to be diagnosed with mesothelioma. What is true is that people who are smokers and who are diagnosed with lung cancer are likely to suffer more from their cancer’s symptoms then is true of those who have not been exposed to asbestos. This is simply because the patient’s history of exposing their lungs to cigarette smoke has impacted the health of the lungs themselves, making them more vulnerable to the effect of asbestos as well.
Myth #2: Mesothelioma is an Old Person’s Disease
It certainly may seem as if mesothelioma only strikes older people, but this is because the disease has such a long latency period. It generally takes forty to fifty years after exposure to asbestos for the disease to begin showing symptoms. This means that if a person was exposed to asbestos as a 30-year old worker, they are not likely to be diagnosed with mesothelioma until they are seventy or eighty-years old. Despite the fact that the average mesothelioma victim is not diagnosed until they are 60-years old, this does not mean that much younger people can’t get the disease. Tragically, even young children have been diagnosed with mesothelioma. They are often exposed through second-hand exposure from loved ones who work near the substance or environmental exposure from their school buildings or older buildings and insulation. Though the mechanism of mesothelioma in young children is not well understood, it is believed that the disease’s long latency period is eliminated because the children’s immune system is not well developed at the time they are exposed to the carcinogen, and therefore is unable to slow the impact of the cancerous cell mutation and growth.
Myth #3: You Can Catch Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma is absolutely not a disease that is contagious. This myth probably developed as a result of multiple members of the same family being diagnosed with the disease, but this is probably a result of second-hand exposure.
Myth #4: Mesothelioma Requires Prolonged Exposure to Asbestos
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is no safe level of asbestos exposure: even a single fiber of asbestos can become embedded in a cell’s lining, cause cell death and mutate into mesothelioma cancer, but this is extremely rare. In most cases it is extended exposure to asbestos that precedes a mesothelioma diagnosis.
Myth #5: Mesothelioma and Lung Cancer are the Same Thing
Many people make the mistake of thinking that mesothelioma is just another word for lung cancer. Though one type of mesothelioma does impact the pleural cavity where the lungs are located, mesothelioma is actually a highly specific type of cancer that effects an organ found in various parts of the body that provides a protective lining of both body cavities and organs.
Myth #6: Mesothelioma Only Affects Men
Though the majority of mesothelioma victims are males, this is not a question of gender vulnerability as much as it is a matter of occupational exposure. Most people who are diagnosed with mesothelioma are exposed to asbestos on the job, and most of the jobs that involve asbestos exposure are dominated by men. As a result, men are diagnosed with mesothelioma four times more often then women are.
Myth #7: Mesothelioma Claims Lives Quickly
There is no doubt that mesothelioma is always considered to be a fatal disease, but as modern medicine learns more about the condition, doctors have been able to offer longer survival times to mesothelioma patients. Every patient is different and their prognosis is based on a number of different factors, including type of mesothelioma, cell type, age and overall health at the time of diagnosis.
Compensation Decision Help
People who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma may be eligible for compensation from the $30 billion asbestos trust fund or in some cases they can choose to file a mesothelioma lawsuit against the asbestos companies that negligently exposed them to asbestos. Contact our office at 1-800-793-4540 for a free consultation to help you decide which is best for your situation. Ask for our free Financial Compensation Packet that will provide you with helpful information about the types of compensation that you may be eligible to receive.