Mesothelioma, a cancer that often affects the organs, is caused by exposure to asbestos. This type of disease has a significant latency period, or time between exposure and symptoms.
How long is the mesothelioma latency period?
According to The Mesothelioma Center, the average latency period for mesothelioma is 40 years, more broadly between 20 and 50. While it is rare, symptoms can also show up under 15 or above 60 years.
What factors affect the latency period?
The time that it takes for symptoms of mesothelioma to show up after exposure to asbestos can be affected by many factors. First, there is the location of the cancer. Pleural mesothelioma, which is in the lungs and is the most common type, typically has a latency period of 30 to 60 years. Peritoneal mesothelioma, which is in the abdomen, can show up between 20 to 40 years after exposure.
The duration and intensity of exposure can also influence the latency period. If an individual was exposed to high levels of asbestos for a longer period, they will likely have a shorter period of time before symptoms show. Similarly, secondhand exposure typically means a lower level of contact with asbestos and a longer latency period.
What are the symptoms of mesothelioma?
If you believe that you were exposed to asbestos, it’s important to know the initial symptoms of mesothelioma. These can include:
- Dry cough
- Pain in the chest or abdomen
- Shortness of breath and respiratory issues
- Fatigue and weakness
If you suspect that you had exposure to asbestos and are experiencing symptoms, even decades later, visit a doctor. Catching mesothelioma as early as possible can help treatments.