Is Mesothelioma a rare disease?
One of the myths about mesothelioma is that it’s a rare disease.
According to The Mesothelioma Center, between two and 10% of people with prolonged exposure to asbestos develop pleural mesothelioma – the most common type of this cancer.
Roughly 3,000 people die from mesothelioma each year and another 2,000 to 3,000 new cases are diagnosed each year. While these aren’t startlingly high numbers, they are certainly not negligible.
How does mesothelioma rank among other diseases?
By way of comparison, as many people die of mesothelioma each year as they do of the following:
- Peptic ulcers
- Nephritis (kidney infection)
- Gallbladder disorders
- Accidental drowning
- Accidental exposure to smoke or flame
- Surgical/medical complications
While none of these causes of death are widespread, they are not exceptionally uncommon – and neither is mesothelioma.
Some populations are much harder hit by mesothelioma
Among the general population, the incidence of mesothelioma may be rarer than other illnesses, but when you examine the population of certain high-risk industries and professions, the percentage of occurrence becomes much higher.
One of the segments hardest hit by mesothelioma is veterans and Navy veterans more so than other branches because of the heavy use of asbestos in ship building and Marine activities.
Does mesothelioma’s classification as an orphan disease mean it’s rare?
Mesothelioma is considered an orphan disease which makes it sound rare, but this is misleading. An orphan disease is one that afflicts fewer than 200,000 Americans at any given time.
Because mesothelioma victims have a decreased life span, it is unlikely that this many cases will accumulate. As a matter of interest, other “orphan” and rare disease include AIDS, cerebral palsy, and multiple sclerosis – and the majority of orphan diseases are extremely life threatening.
Mesothelioma is expected to increase in coming years
Because asbestos use declined in the 1980s, the incidences of mesothelioma should have tapered off and eventually spiraled down to very few.
However, the 9/11 terror attack has raised the ugly specter of revived mesothelioma risk. It’s estimated that more than 2,000 pounds of asbestos was pulverized in the attacks and released into the air where survivors, first responders and nearby workers and residents could breathe it.
Medical journal The Lancet reports that cancers are up 19% in first responders after the incident but the full effect on the mesothelioma rate won’t be known until 2040 and later because of the long latency period of mesothelioma.
The bottom line is that mesothelioma is not nearly as rare as we’d like it to be and the number of those diagnosed with the devastating illness will continue to climb through the mid-2000s and possibly beyond.
Contact us for help
Contact Bergman Draper Oslund if you or someone you love has been diagnosed with mesothelioma. We have a track record of winning significant settlements of more than $600 million for victims of mesothelioma. We are ready to fight for your rights no matter where you are or where you were exposed to asbestos. Call (888) 647-6007 or click here for a free case evaluation.