Malignant mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. Mesothelioma occurs in the mesothelium, which is a type of protective lining that surrounds certain internal organs. Approximately 2500-3500 individuals are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year.

Mesothelioma can be difficult to diagnose. One reason for this is the long latency period between a person’s exposure and their diagnosis. When a person is exposed to asbestos, it could take 20 to 50 years for them to develop any symptoms of mesothelioma. One study showed that only 4 percent of cases were diagnosed within 20 years of exposure.

Types of Mesothelioma

Asbestos Exposure and Mesothelioma

  • Occupational Exposure

    Most people diagnosed with mesothelioma were exposed to asbestos at their jobs. Occupational exposure is the most common type because people who worked with asbestos were exposed to it every day for an extended amount of time. Some of the fields most at risk include miners, construction workers, and factory workers.

  • Secondhand Exposure

    Family members of asbestos workers can also be exposed to asbestos. Asbestos dust can cling to the hair, skin, and clothing of the people working around it. Those workers bring the asbestos home with them. Family members can breathe the dust in during a hug or while washing their loved one’s contaminated clothing.

  • Household Exposure

    When asbestos was popular, it was used in a wide variety of products. Asbestos was widely used in the building materials used to build houses. Anyone doing repairs or renovations, or even just disturbing the insulation in the attic, could come in contact with asbestos. It was even used in everyday household items like dish towels, hair-dryers, and clothing irons.

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