Mesothelioma and Today’s Youth
Due to the average age of a mesothelioma victim, which is mid 60’s or older, it is feared that individuals who actually have mesothelioma are not being properly diagnosed because of their young age. On Friday, June 3rd, 2011 a Pasadena High School student lost his battle with the rare cancer mesothelioma. This is an unusual case because typically this dreaded disease only occurs in individuals that were exposed to asbestos 30 to 50 years earlier.
Austin Lacy battled the wrong disease for a year before he was correctly diagnosed with mesothelioma. This delay in a proper diagnosis is too common in these situations because mesothelioma symptoms are also very similar to other disease symptoms.
Nearly three months later on August 20th, 2011 another young athlete also lost his battle with mesothelioma; 21 year old Kevin Morrison from Norwood, Massachusetts. While Austin Lacy had pleural mesothelioma, which occurs around the lungs and chest, Kevin Morrison has peritoneal mesothelioma, which is the rarest form. Peritoneal mesothelioma affects the lining of the abdomen and is so rare that it is only diagnosed in 100 to 500 patients each year in the US. What is even rarer is the fact that Kevin is so young. Kevin succumb to this disease only six months after he was diagnosed.
A study done by the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization showed that the average age of people diagnosed with mesothelioma is steadily dropping as a record number of teens and young adults are being diagnosed. One way that the young people of America are contracting this disease is by being exposed to asbestos at dangerous levels that threaten their lives. Secondary exposure can also occur when one breathes in asbestos from a loved one’s clothing. As soon as asbestos particles are inhaled, they can start to infect the cells and turn into cancer.
Since typically it takes decades before mesothelioma is diagnosed, many youths may not realize that they are actually suffering from this horrendous preventable disease.