The period of time between exposure to a potential cause of disease and the time the disease becomes apparent is defined as the latency period.

Expert medical opinion suggests that in the case of mesothelioma or asbestosis, the latency period ranges from 20 to 50 years after initial asbestos exposure to the onset of asbestos symptoms. There have been instances when the time period was shorter or longer.

As a result of the long latency period associated with asbestos-related diseases, the appearance of mesothelioma symptoms to those exposed to asbestos during the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s are beginning to happen today, decades later.

Early diagnosis will help to establish if mesothelioma is indeed present by the taking of a simple test to measure a particular cancer biomarker, which can catch mesothelioma in the early stages of development. The blood test is not available everywhere but by asking your doctor, or seeking asbestos advice, you may take advantage of the test, which may aid early detection. An asbestosis lawyer will require details of diagnosis as necessary evidence when commencing a claim for mesothelioma compensation.

A number of studies have been conducted into the specific details on the length of latency periods among those exposed to asbestos. In the case of mesothelioma, evidence indicates that high exposure for short periods of time might be more damaging than low exposure over many years.

A New York City paramedic and one of the first at the site of the World Trade Center attacks in 2001, was a fatal victim of mesothelioma in 2006, just five years after exposure to asbestos. Symptoms of the disease appeared as early as 2003 and mesothelioma diagnosed in 2004.

Numerous studies into asbestosis agree that more than 90 percent of individuals who were exposed to asbestos for 40 years or more will develop the disease. For those who worked with the toxic mineral for 20-30 years, the rate is about 75 percent. Those who experienced 10-19 years of exposure have an incidence level of about 10 to 15 percent. These numbers may also vary according to the daily level of asbestos exposure.

Shipbuilders of the mid-20th century, who were nearly always surrounded by asbestos, as were many construction workers, have tended to develop asbestosis sooner than those who worked in other industries, where the levels may not have been as high.