As Americans journey through life, many look forward to their senior years with great anticipation. Having worked hard for many years, they view retirement as their chance to relax and enjoy the fruits of their labor. Some people already have hobbies to enjoy. Others search for new interests. There may be grandchildren to spoil, gardens to cultivate, and social groups to join. For travelers, there are beaches, mountains, and fascinating distant lands to explore.
But all of these pursuits assume something important – reasonably good health. Without it, many of retirement’s pleasures become difficult or impossible to achieve. While many health problems can be resolved, some are more difficult to address and may even be deadly. One such disease is mesothelioma. In this article, we will discuss mesothelioma and its effect on senior citizens.
Mesothelioma and Its Cause
Mesothelioma is a deadly form of cancer that unfortunately has no cure. Pleural mesothelioma, the most common type, occurs in the lining of the lungs. The disease can also occur in the lining of the heart and abdominal cavity. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in 2017 that every year there are 2,400 to 2,800 new mesothelioma diagnoses. Some people believe the number is probably closer to 3,000.
Mesothelioma is caused by asbestos exposure. There is no other known toxin that causes the disease. Asbestos is the name used for six different fibrous minerals that can become airborne and inhaled when disturbed in certain ways, such as by sawing, sanding, and various construction and commercial processes. Long-term exposure to the substance is especially dangerous.
Exposure to Asbestos
The use of asbestos was extremely popular in the past. The mineral is inexpensive and has qualities, such as heat resistance, which made it popular in a number of industries.
While many countries have banned asbestos, a few – including the United States – have not. Fortunately, even though the mineral has not been banned, its use has been greatly restricted.
However, because it was used so frequently in the past, some people are still exposed to it today. Good examples include construction workers and custodians who work in and around old buildings. These older buildings may have incorporated a number of building products that contain asbestos.
Disproportionate Effect on Senior Citizens
Mesothelioma often does not develop until decades after the exposure to asbestos. Therefore, many Americans actually complete their working careers before developing symptoms of the disease. So, for example, a younger person may have worked on a navy ship, in the construction industry, or in a production facility using asbestos in the 1970s, only to develop symptoms of mesothelioma as a senior citizen.
Thus, even though asbestos is used less now than in the past, research cited by the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries notes that recently the rate of malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) has increased in patients who are 70 years old and older. The cited research found that more than 67 percent of patients suffering from MPM are over the age of 65.
Consult with a Medical Professional
While there is no cure for mesothelioma, catching it earlier can improve treatment options. Therefore, seniors should carefully consider symptoms, review their work history, and consult with the appropriate medical professionals if they believe they have been exposed to asbestos.
Call with Questions
If you have been exposed to asbestos and are suffering from mesothelioma, asbestosis, or other related disease, you will likely have questions about your legal rights. The experienced mesothelioma lawyers at Nelson MacNeil Rayfield have helped victims all around Oregon. We would be happy to answer any of your questions in a free consultation. We believe in the importance of holding wrongdoers accountable for their actions so that all of society can be made safer.