In early March 2017, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report stating that the number of deaths related to malignant mesothelioma increased from 2,479 in 1999 to 2,597 in 2015. While the largest increase in number of deaths was seen amongst those older than 85, younger populations continue to be affected as well. During the 16-year period studied, there were 16,914 people 75-84 years old who died of malignant mesothelioma; in that same period, 682 people between the ages of 25 and 44 died of the disease. Researchers at the CDC are currently unable to explain why younger populations continue to suffer from asbestos-related issues, as there is insufficient information regarding exposure among those age groups.
Asbestos is composed of six naturally occurring minerals. Because of their flexibility, resistant to heat, and low cost, those mineral fibers became so popular for use in manufacturing during the 20th century. Asbestos was used in home insulation, car brakes, hair dryers, cigarette filters, and many other common products. When it was discovered that asbestos fibers could become embed in lung tissue, potentially causing mesothelioma, the EPA banned most asbestos-related products. However, almost 40 years after the fact, folks born after the mineral was banned continue to fall victim to asbestos-related mesothelioma.
Occupational exposure to asbestos is the most common method of exposure. The likelihood of developing mesothelioma after exposure to asbestos cannot be accurately predicted, and unfortunately the prognosis upon diagnosis is rather grim. There does not yet exist any available methods proven to reliably improve a patient’s survival rate through early detection of malignant mesothelioma. However, there are many methods currently being investigated.
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