Mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive form of cancer that primarily affects the lining of the lungs (pleural mesothelioma) but can also occur in the lining of the abdomen (peritoneal mesothelioma), heart (pericardial mesothelioma), or testicles (testicular mesothelioma). The primary cause of mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos fibers.
People who have had prolonged exposure to asbestos are at the highest risk of developing mesothelioma. Occupations and activities that historically involved working with asbestos-containing materials pose a higher risk. These include:
- Construction workers: Particularly those involved in insulation installation, demolition, renovation, or building maintenance.
- Shipyard workers: Asbestos was commonly used in shipbuilding materials, putting workers at high risk due to exposure during the construction and repair of ships.
- Industrial workers: Those employed in industries like manufacturing, mining, automotive, and textile production where asbestos was used in various processes.
- Military personnel: Many military facilities and ships used asbestos-containing materials, and veterans may have been exposed during their service.
- Family members: People who lived with individuals working in asbestos-related industries may have faced secondary exposure through asbestos fibers brought home on clothing.
- Those living near asbestos mines or processing facilities: Proximity to areas where asbestos mining or manufacturing took place can increase the risk of exposure.
It’s important to note that while asbestos exposure is the primary risk factor for mesothelioma, not everyone exposed to asbestos will develop this cancer. Other factors, such as genetics, individual susceptibility, duration, and intensity of exposure, may also contribute to the likelihood of developing mesothelioma.
If you suspect any past exposure to asbestos or are experiencing symptoms such as persistent coughing, chest pain, shortness of breath, or unexplained weight loss, it’s crucial to consult a healthcare professional for proper evaluation and guidance. Early detection and treatment can significantly impact the prognosis for mesothelioma.