South Dakota Mesothelioma Resources and Asbestos Information

Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that is known to be caused by exposure to asbestos. Some citizens of South Dakota have become, or are at risk of becoming, victims of asbestos-related diseases due to previous contact they may have had with the carcinogen.  As one of the least populated states, South Dakota has one of the smallest numbers of people affected by asbestos related illnesses. Proportionately though, the rates of illness are similar to most states that saw heavy use of the material during the 20th century. Discovered in the mid 1800s, asbestos was heralded for its ability to resist heat and corrosive chemicals. It also became popular as a cheap construction material, commonly used on ceilings, walls and floors. As the material is handled or naturally decays it releases dust and fine particulates. Individuals that inhale such particles for extended periods of time are at increased risk of developing mesothelioma and asbestosis. Both diseases are dangerous in their own right, though mesothelioma usually offers victims a substantially more reduced life expectancy. The problem with both illnesses is their ability to create symptoms similar to less deadly afflictions. Patients usually don't remember or even know they were exposed to asbestos, making it even more difficult to diagnose at an early stage. Currently, there are about 800,000 people residing in South Dakota. Of these, only 63 asbestos-related deaths were reported between 1979 and 1999. The majority of those individuals all are known to have suffered from mesothelioma. The remaining seven suffered from asbestosis. Patients diagnosed with asbestosis have a much better prognosis and quality of life than those who develop the related cancer. Since malignant mesothelioma is extremely difficult to detect, most sufferers rarely get the treatment they need at an early stage. The aggressive nature of this cancer makes it deadly when left untreated for a short period of time. South Dakotans who have previously been exposed to asbestos need to inform physicians so proper tests can be diagnosed. Confusing symptoms for other less serious problems is one of the main reasons the disease remains so deadly.