Described as a rare form of cancer caused by asbestos exposure, mesothelioma affects more than 3,000 Americans every year. This condition occurs in individuals who have been exposed to asbestos for a long period of time, especially in those who worked in factories, mines, shipyards and other industries using asbestos prior to 1970. Pleural mesothelioma is the most common form of this disease and develops in the lining of the lungs, causing shortness of breath, extreme swelling and sharp chest pain.
Asbestos is a naturally-occurring material that was used in various industries in the United States. When it's cut or disturbed in some way, this mineral releases fibers that get inside the lungs. Due to its high durability, asbestos was used as an effective insulation material. Its low cost and its elasticity made this material very popular in the construction industry.
Studies have shown that asbestos can cause inflammation of mesothelial cells, which leads to cellular damage and cancer. Up to nine out of 10 individuals suffering from mesothelioma have been exposed to asbestos. When asbestos fibers are accidentally swollen, this form of cancer affects the abdomen.
People who have been exposed to high levels of asbestos at a young age are most likely to develop mesothelioma cancer. Furthermore, many industrial factories and commercial buildings were constructed with products containing asbestos, putting those who have lived or worked in these places at risk. Other asbestos diseases triggered by asbestos exposure include diffuse pleural thickening, asbestos lung cancer and fibrosis.
In addition to asbestos exposure, mesothelioma can be caused by radiation therapy and tobacco use. Individuals who have a family history of mesothelioma are more likely to develop this condition. Living with someone who works with this substance increases the risk of mesothelioma as well. Sometimes this condition occurs in people who have never been exposed to asbestos. The chances of developing this form of cancer do not decrease with time after exposure to asbestos.
Radiation therapy and chemotherapy may cause mesothelioma cancer in people who have no prior exposure to asbestos. Most times radiation is associated with brain and blood cancers.
Although there is no association between smoking and mesothelioma, studies have shown that people who smoke and work with asbestos are more likely to develop this form of cancer than non-smokers. If the smoker is already suffering from asbestosis, the risk of developing mesothelioma increases by up to 84 percent.
Thorium dioxide was used for X-ray enhancement back in the 1930s. Patients who received this substance developed pleural mesothelioma and peritoneal mesothelioma. Identified as a powerful carcinogen in the late 1950s, thorium dioxide caused this form of cancer in up to 10 million people from all over the world.
Asbestos exposure is the main factor causing mesothelioma. If you worked with materials containing asbestos fibers and you suffer from mesothelioma, contact an attorney to help you recover costs for mesothelioma treatment.