Mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer and unfortunately it is also one of the most aggressive cancers. In the United States of America an estimated 2500 to 3000 new cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed each year. In the United States the incidence of the disease increased from 1970 to 1990 and then stabilized. In the European countries, the rate of mesothelioma is still increasing.
Mesothelioma has a long latency period (i.e. it takes a long time to develop after the individual is exposed to asbestos) and the first diagnosis of mesothelioma occurs between the 50 to 70 age brackets. The incidence of the disease increases with age. Mesothelioma is rare in people under the age of 55 years. In fact a high proportion of individuals diagnosed with mesothelioma are over 65 years old. Approximately, men are affected approximately 5 times more than women. This may also arise from the fact that men are more usually found in factories that work with asbestos material.
Mesothelioma is difficult to detect in its early stages. Unfortunately the disease is usually well advanced at its first diagnosis. Current treatments are not so effective in treating the disease when the average survival period is little over one year. However, as in other types of cancer, if mesothelioma is found early and treated aggressively, the patient can reach the two year survival point. Moreover, an increasing proportion of patients diagnosed with mesothelioma live up to five years and over.
Those individuals that live past the five year period after the diagnosis have a good chance to continue to live for many additional years. Treatment therapies continue to improve and increase and so we can expect higher survival rate.