After the public was informed that exposure to asbestos leads to a rare, devastating form of cancer called mesothelioma, regulations were put in place in order to protect workers in Louisville and across the country. Changes were made to how workers can use carcinogenic products like asbestos and to their use in consumer products and public buildings. While science and medical technology have advanced considerably since the discovery of the carcinogenic nature of asbestos, mesothelioma continues to devastate victims. Studies show little improvement in the rate of mesothelioma development or in the chances of victims’ survival.
Many experts expected that mesothelioma diagnoses would decline after a peak between 2000 and 2005, representing a high point for workers exposed to asbestos prior to the development of newer regulations. Earlier, mesothelioma diagnoses had increased each year between 1783 and 1961. One study conducted at the Cleveland Clinic showed that the expected decline had never taken place. Instead, the diagnosis rate for the rare cancer has remained stable. Researchers studied 20,988 patients who had been diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma.
It remains likely that most mesothelioma patients were exposed to asbestos while on the job, often before the advent of current safety regulations. The proportion of mesothelioma patients who are elderly at the time of their diagnosis has increased from 75% to 80%. In addition, it remains a largely male cancer, as only 20% of mesothelioma patients are women. This also reflects the likelihood of asbestos exposure in male-dominated industries like construction and mining. In addition, more patients are receiving treatment, although overall survival rates have shown little change.
Mesothelioma is a devastating risk, especially for workers exposed to asbestos on the job or consumers who dealt with products containing asbestos. An attorney may be able to help injured workers and affected family members seek compensation for their suffering.