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Mesothelioma Attorneys, William Kherkher

Mesothelioma – Why Does it Take so Long to Discover?

The news lately has been saturated with stories regarding people and their unfortunate contraction of a disease that has no cure – mesothelioma. This is news that basically scares everyone who hears it, as asbestos fibers can seemingly be anywhere at any time, even though massive efforts to remove it from our environment have been made in the past 20 years since the discovery of its problematic nature occurred.

Perhaps the most disconcerting aspect of mesothelioma, besides its lack of a cure, is the fact that people who have been exposed to asbestos are sometimes not diagnosed with this disease until 10, 20 or even 30 or 40 years after they were originally exposed to the substance. Most people want to know how that’s possible, and below we’ll explain a few possible reasons for this delay in diagnosis.

Common Symptoms

The most common symptoms that are associated with mesothelioma are just that – very common. That means that often times, the presentation of mesothelioma is quite similar to other, more simple and common maladies such as a cold or respiratory infection. For example, symptoms of mesothelioma in its early stages include shortness of breath, chest pain, persistent coughing, abdominal pain, nausea and fatigue, among others.

Many doctors will reasonably see these symptoms, have no idea that the patient was exposed to asbestos decades ago and treat the symptoms as a common cold or the flu. It’s not until the mesothelioma has progressed to a severe stage that its true nature reveals itself in many patients.

Rare Disease

Since it was only recently, medically speaking, that the problem with asbestos exposure was only discovered in the latter part of the 20th Century, which means that many patients who surely died of mesothelioma were simply diagnosed with lung cancer. Even now, with all the news surrounding mesothelioma out there, statistics show that only about 2,000 patients per year are diagnosed with this condition in the United States.

Slow to Develop

The life stage of mesothelioma begins when asbestos fibers are inhaled into the lung tissue, which is called the mesothelium, a protective layer around the lungs’ pleura. These fibers slowly “eat away” at this protective layer, and this process takes time. That’s another reason that this disease can take so long to be discovered.

Hopefully, medical technology will continue to advance to the point where mesothelioma can be found sooner. If that happens, perhaps even a cure can be found someday. In the meantime, everyone should take a look at their pasts to make sure that they haven’t been exposed to asbestos. If you have, contact the mesothelioma lawyers at Williams Kherkher today to schedule a free initial consultation.

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