Mesothelioma in Washington State - a rare cancer to watch out for

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer with only one known cause - asbestos. Around 3,000 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year in the United States.

In Washington state the mesothelioma death rate of 12.2 per million people is much higher than the national average, according to the CDC. 
Specifically in King County, Washington there were 1,475 asbestos related deaths from 1999 to 2013. That averages out to 98 deaths per year due to asbestos exposure.

This cancer is caused by the inhalation of asbestos, a naturally occurring fibrous material. The toxin was widely used in construction, oil refining, and shipbuilding and repair in decades past. Many older homes - built up to the 1970s - contain the carcinogen. While there are three types of mesothelioma, the most common form is pleural mesothelioma, with the disease developing in the lining of the lungs.

Although asbestos is no longer mined in the United States it is still widely used around the country. Mesothelioma Awareness Day, September 26, is the one day a year that this rare disease is in the spotlight.

The fight for a complete asbestos ban is the only way to deter the continuing growing numbers of diagnoses each year.

Prevention of exposure is paramount because of the difficulty surrounding mesothelioma diagnosis. Many times mesothelioma is not diagnosed until the third or fourth stage when symptoms become more pronounced. At this aggressive stage of the cancer prognosis is very poor. The average life expectancy for those diagnosed with mesothelioma is just 12 to 21 months.

The symptoms of the disease are often mistaken for other more common illnesses such as pneumonia or the flu. Seeing a medical professional as soon as your body feels amiss is imperative to early and accurate detection.

Mesothelioma doctors can be found at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, University of Washington Medical Center, and Swedish Cancer Institute at Swedish Medical Center - all located in Seattle.

Join in the conversation by following the Mesothelioma discussion on Twitter, September 26 at 9am. PT, and using the hashtag #EndMeso.


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