Occupational exposure to asbestos remains the number one cause of mesothelioma, but there has been a decline in recent years in the number of cases of illness caused by working with asbestos on the job. Since asbestos use was phrased out starting in the 1970’s, the number of cases of occupational-related mesothelioma should naturally be going down and should continue to account for a decreasing number of deaths.
Unfortunately, despite the fact that fewer people have been exposed to asbestos in recent decades, there does not appear to be a big drop in new diagnoses of mesothelioma. Instead, it has become increasingly common for patients to be diagnosed with this devastating form of cancer even if they have not even been around asbestos (even secondhand exposure). There have also been more diagnoses of mesothelioma patients who are younger, and who are female.
These new cases of mesothelioma among different demographic groups may have a different cause entirely than asbestos. As Cancer Network reports, their mesothelioma may be linked to radiation for lymphoma. Determining the cause of mesothelioma is essential, and a Boston mesothelioma lawyer can help you to pursue a claim if you have been harmed.
Chest Radiation Can Result in Mesothelioma
For a long time, the majority of mesothelioma patients were older men who had reached or passed retirement age. As many as 25-30 percent of the mesothelioma patients had served in the U.S. military. These men had often worked on shipyards for the U.S. Navy, where there were high levels of asbestos exposure.
Changing demographics of mesothelioma patients raised concerns when people outside this profile- and especially women- began being diagnosed with mesothelioma with no known asbestos exposure. This prompted studies to uncover the cause of these new diagnoses.
Unfortunately, one study at Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston identified a link between radiation for lymphoma and the subsequent development of pleural mesothelioma. The study involved an examination of 1,618 mesothelioma patients over a period of 15-years. A total of 22 of these patients had undergone chest radiation therapy for lymphoma at an earlier point in time. Based on the available information and a comparison to a control group, researchers concluded that patients who had Hodgkin lymphoma had a 20-fold increased risk of developing mesothelioma after undergoing radiotherapy.
The research revealed some significant differences between patients with pleural diffuse malignant mesothelioma (PDMM) and patients with mesothelioma caused by asbestos. The patients who had the history of lymphoma had a mean age of 46.7 years, compared with a mean age of 63.3 years for asbestos-related patients. Patients with lymphoma-related PDMM also had a higher median survival time for mesothelioma than patients with asbestos-related lymphoma. Those whose lymphoma was believed to be linked to their radiation therapy had a median survival time of 32.5 months as compared with 12.7 months for asbestos-patients.
This study is bad news for many reasons. First and foremost, cancer patients who undergo treatment for one type of cancer are being placed at a significantly increased risk of developing another deadly type of cancer. The link between radiation therapy and mesothelioma also means that there may be other causes of mesothelioma not yet fully identified, so the number of mesothelioma cases could remain steady or even increase despite the fact that asbestos-exposure is now so limited.
If you or a loved one is diagnosed with mesothelioma, call for a free and confidential appointment at 1-888-367-2900.
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