The Causes of Mesothelioma Cancer Explained

The causes of mesothelioma have been proven by doctors and scientists for decades and are almost always linked to exposure to asbestos. While some people will develop a very rare form of mesothelioma that isn’t caused by working in the asbestos industry, eighty percent of the people who develop this form of cancer did so as a result of earlier damage to the lungs, heart or peritoneal area from asbestos fibers.

Mesothelioma is usually not diagnosed until years after the person has initially come into contact with asbestos, so it did take some time for the scientific community to link the cause of mesothelioma cancer with the early exposure that eventually triggers it. Over time, however, as the rate of this form of cancer began to rise steadily in the 1960s and beyond, researchers looking into the causes of mesothelioma began to realize that the greatest common denominator was asbestos exposure. Autopsies on those who had died revealed the presence of asbestos fibers (often microscopically small) in the air sacs of their lungs.

Mesothelioma Questions & Answers

Long, Slow Progression Between Causes of Mesothelioma and Final Diagnosis

Causes of Mesothelioma - Lung Xray

Asbestos affects the body whenever it is inhaled or swallowed. Over time, asbestos fiber that is inhaled into the lungs makes its way to the smallest airways, imbedding themselves into the tissue. Because it is lodged there, it can’t be coughed out and leads to inflammation caused by the body’s defensive systems. Over time, this inflammation aggravates the mesothelial cells so much that they become cancerous.

Cause of Peritoneal Mesothelioma

The causes of asbestos cancer or mesothelioma seem very specific (asbestos exposure over the long term), but it is surprising how many different ways it can trigger cancer. The mesothelial cells of the body make up a protective lining that envelope not only the chest cavity and lungs, but also the heart and abdominal cavity. For this reason, some patients are surprised when they are diagnosed with mesothelioma that has nothing to do with their lungs, as is the case in peritoneal mesothelioma.

Asbestos Exposure and Smoking

With the causes of mesothelioma so clearly being triggered by asbestos exposure, you would think that there is nothing you can do to lower your risk years later. However, doctors will also warn you that another one of the causes is smoking. You don’t usually develop mesothelioma strictly from smoking, but if you’ve been exposed to asbestos and you smoke, you increase your odds of contracting mesothelioma astronomically.

Understanding what causes mesothelioma is important to patients so that they can have family members and others who may have been exposed to asbestos through contact with them thoroughly checked. These patients should also talk to an attorney about receiving compensation from asbestos manufacturers, since these companies knew years ago that their products were some of the most common causes of mesothelioma known to man.

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