For the longest time, asbestos exposure had been mainly a problem with workers in the mining industries, construction, or those working with raw materials. The problem with asbestos exposure is that symptoms do not normally show until several years later. The medical term for this is called the latency period. On average, it could take anywhere between 20 and 50 years for the symptoms to show and for a doctor to finally diagnose mesothelioma, the cancer caused by asbestos exposure.
Who Is More at Risk?
Workers in some industries may be more prone to contracting mesothelioma, based solely on their occupation. This can have an impact on how long latency lasts, and can vary depending on each person’s situation. Those who have had more prolonged exposure or who have had more intense periods of exposure, could shorten or lengthen the latency period. For example, cases of mesothelioma have been diagnosed in paramedics and other emergency responders during high-intensity, low-duration asbestos exposure in disasters such as the collapse of the World Trade Center.
These are some examples of workers who could be put at higher risk:
- Construction workers
- Oil refineries
It well documented that through the 1950’s up until the mid-1980’s, asbestos was everywhere in oil refineries. That means, that, workers who were exposed to asbestos are now beginning to recognize the early warning signs, due to the long latency period. On average, most people diagnosed with mesothelioma are around 70 years of age and, unfortunately, over 3,000 new cases are discovered each year in the United States.
Recognizing the First Signs
Be aware that the early warning signs may not even be present until cancer has reached a later stage. Some of the warning signs are: shortness of breath or difficult breathing, a cough that won’t stop, wheezing, chest pain, and fatigue. Many of these symptoms can be easily misdiagnosed or dismissed as minor illnesses, so it is important to be frank with your doctor if you were exposed to asbestos at any point.
If you are looking for an advocate to assist you with your diagnosis of mesothelioma,talk to the Baltimore personal injury attorneys at The Law Offices of Peter Angelos, P.C. Free consultations are available.