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Why does mesothelioma usually impact older individuals?

On Behalf of | Mar 5, 2024 | mesothelioma

When someone is diagnosed with mesothelioma after asbestos exposure, odds are that they are relatively advanced in age. This is usually a disease that starts after middle age, and those who are diagnosed are often around retirement age.

For example, some sources claim that it is rare for individuals who are under 45 years old to ever be diagnosed with mesothelioma, although it does sometimes happen – and there have even been cases where children are diagnosed. However, roughly two-thirds of all new patients every year – when looking at pleural mesothelioma in a person’s chest – are at least 65 years old.

The latency period

The biggest reason why mesothelioma is more common with older people is that there tends to be a long latency period. Someone could be exposed to asbestos in their 20s or 30s. Exposure often happens in the workplace, and that person may not even realize that they’ve been exposed at the time.

But after that exposure, they’re not going to develop mesothelioma the next year. It may even take decades. Some people are exposed and do not get a diagnosis for 20 or 30 years.

Once it sets in, mesothelioma is known as an aggressive type of cancer, meaning that it grows and spreads quickly. But the latency period means that this growth may still start when someone is in their 60s or 70s, rather than at a younger age.

Your legal options

This latency period can create some complications, and it is one of the reasons that mesothelioma tends to have a relatively high fatality rate. But there are treatment options, and it’s important for those who have been diagnosed to understand exactly what steps they can take and what legal options they have to seek compensation.