Mesothelioma is an aggressive and rare form of cancer that affects the lining of the lungs, abdomen and other organs in the body. It is caused by asbestos exposure and is often diagnosed when it is too late for effective treatment. Unfortunately, most cases of mesothelioma are caused by exposure to asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral that was widely used in the construction and manufacturing industries until the mid-1970s.
Asbestos is composed of tiny fibers that are easily inhaled or ingested. When asbestos fibers are inhaled, they can become lodged in the lining of the lungs and other organs. Over time, the fibers can cause the cells to become malignant, leading to mesothelioma. The latency period for mesothelioma is long, meaning that symptoms may not appear until several years after the initial exposure to asbestos.
In addition to asbestos exposure, there are other factors that can increase the risk of mesothelioma. These include smoking, exposure to radiation, genetics, and certain viruses. Smoking combined with asbestos exposure can greatly increase the risk of developing mesothelioma. People with certain genetic mutations, such as BAP1, are also at an increased risk. Additionally, some viruses, such as the simian virus, may increase the risk of mesothelioma.
It is important to be aware of the potential causes of mesothelioma in order to reduce the risk of developing the disease. If you or a loved one has been exposed to asbestos, it is important to seek medical attention right away. Additionally, individuals who have been exposed to asbestos should avoid smoking and limit their exposure to ionizing radiation. Finally, it is important to be aware of any family history of mesothelioma, as this may increase the risk of developing the disease.