Mesothelioma Myths and Mysteries Uncovered by Specialists in Recent Report

Health & Wellness

Written by Michelle Whitmer

Reading Time: 4 mins
Publication Date: 05/17/2013
Fact Checked
Our fact-checking process begins with a thorough review of all sources to ensure they are high quality. Then we cross-check the facts with original medical or scientific reports published by those sources, or we validate the facts with reputable news organizations, medical and scientific experts and other health experts. Each page includes all sources for full transparency.
Reviewed is the nation’s most trusted mesothelioma resource

The Mesothelioma Center at has provided patients and their loved ones the most updated and reliable information on mesothelioma and asbestos exposure since 2006.

Our team of Patient Advocates includes a medical doctor, a registered nurse, health services administrators, veterans, VA-accredited Claims Agents, an oncology patient navigator and hospice care expert. Their combined expertise means we help any mesothelioma patient or loved one through every step of their cancer journey.

More than 30 contributors, including mesothelioma doctors, survivors, health care professionals and other experts, have peer-reviewed our website and written unique research-driven articles to ensure you get the highest-quality medical and health information.

About The Mesothelioma Center at

  • Assisting mesothelioma patients and their loved ones since 2006.
  • Helps more than 50% of mesothelioma patients diagnosed annually in the U.S.
  • A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.
  • 5-star reviewed mesothelioma and support organization.
Learn More About Us


"My family has only the highest compliment for the assistance and support that we received from The Mesothelioma Center. This is a staff of compassionate and knowledgeable individuals who respect what your family is experiencing and who go the extra mile to make an unfortunate diagnosis less stressful. Information and assistance were provided by The Mesothelioma Center at no cost to our family."
Mesothelioma patient’s daughter
  • Google Review Rating
  • BBB Review Rating

How to Cite’s Article


Whitmer, M. (2020, October 16). Mesothelioma Myths and Mysteries Uncovered by Specialists in Recent Report. Retrieved May 27, 2023, from


Whitmer, Michelle. "Mesothelioma Myths and Mysteries Uncovered by Specialists in Recent Report.", 16 Oct 2020,


Whitmer, Michelle. "Mesothelioma Myths and Mysteries Uncovered by Specialists in Recent Report." Last modified October 16, 2020.

Researchers diving into mesothelioma can feel like they’re navigating a maze filled with dark hallways, mirrors and dead ends. The more they walk, the more they realize how difficult their job is.

The medical community hasn’t solved many of the disease’s mysteries, such as whether Simian Virus 40 plays any role in causation, and unaware health professionals too often perpetuate the myths about the cancer.

A report recently released in its entirety in PubMed (an online database that compiles medical literature) — titled “Malignant Mesothelioma: Fact, Myths and Hypotheses” — seeks to address the known, the unknown and the misunderstandings about the asbestos-caused cancer.

Two primary myths are debunked in the report, and the authors discuss a bevy of facts in addition to presenting the latest stats and hypotheses involving the causation and development of the disease.

Report Analyzed 170 Studies

More than 170 studies were analyzed by specialists such as Michele Carbone, M.D. and Harvey Pass, M.D., to produce the report. Comprehensive reports of this nature are rare in the world of mesothelioma research. This particular report is unique in its scope, and it even approaches the politics of death prevention. The authors boldly point out that the United States has invested billions of dollars to prevent the death of U.S. citizens by terrorist attacks, but only a few million to find a cure for the cancer.

The report reads: “Over the past 10 years, less than 5,000 people died in terrorist attacks in the U.S. During the same decade, about 25,000 to 30,000 U.S. citizens died of [mesothelioma], which are largely preventable deaths. Yet, the U.S. invests less than $2 to $3 million dollars/year to support medical research aimed at developing strategies to prevent or cure.”

During the next 40 years, more than 100,000 Americans are expected to pass away from the disease. And with mortality rates predicted to rise by 5 to 10 percent per year for the next two to three decades in industrialized countries, the cry for funding and the call to ban asbestos couldn’t be more important.

Myths Can Affect Treatment and Funding

Myths surrounding any cancer can place a heavy burden on progress, especially if the myth influences the amount of perceived funding necessary to drive research and treatment advances.

The first myth discredited in the report, that malignant mesothelioma will soon disappear, has dramatically affected funding interest for the cancer. In previous decades, some assumed that incidence of the cancer would fade away as the use of asbestos declined.

That assumption failed to consider that natural deposits of asbestos exist, that asbestos fibers persist in the environment once released from products, that asbestos hasn’t been banned in the United States or many other countries, and that mineral fibers similar to asbestos (such as erionite) also cause the disease.

The second myth busted in the report, that tumors grow slowly and take decades to produce symptoms, addresses a characteristic of mesothelioma that is initially perplexing to everyone learning about the cancer.

Mesothelioma doesn’t grow slowly at all. The tumors actually grow fast once formed, and this limits treatment options because the cancer is commonly in an advanced stage once diagnosed.

Cancer development is getting mixed up with how long it takes for asbestos to cause damage. Usually a decade or more transpires before the fibers cause an asbestos-related disease. Following the initial exposure to asbestos, about a decade passes before asbestosis develops, and around three to five decades pass before mesothelioma begins to develop.

“This distinction is important because it implies that there is a long period of time during which it may be possible to arrest or delay the carcinogenic process,” explain the authors.

Clearing the Dust

Offering the latest data and theories, the report clarifies conflicting research tracing back to the 1970s on topics such as mesothelioma in women, how asbestos causes the cancer, and how genetics may play a role in risk.

One highlight of the report that the public will appreciate is that only prolonged exposures to asbestos increase the risk of getting the disease. Single and limited exposures to asbestos aren’t a serious risk factor. The authors want “to reassure individuals who may have had sporadic exposure and who are concerned about their own risk of developing [malignant mesothelioma].”

Another positive note in the report, that medical advancements have increased median survival for patients with peritoneal mesothelioma from nine months to five years or more, offers hope that treatment breakthroughs could one day do the same for pleural mesothelioma.

Did you encounter myths or conflicting information when you first started learning about mesothelioma? Do you think the U.S. government should allocate more funding for research? Leave a comment below, or visit our Facebook page.

paper with magnifying glass
Free Mesothelioma Resources
Get Access to Free Resources for Patients & Loved Ones