Mesothelioma is a cancer that affects the lining of the lungs, as opposed to lung cancer which affects the tissue of the lungs. It’s primarily caused by exposure to asbestos, but because the symptoms of the disease can take anywhere from 20 to 50 years to present, it’s often at a late stage when diagnosed which makes it a difficult disease to treat.
As well as affecting the lining of the lungs, mesothelioma can also occur in the lining of the stomach, heart, and testicles.
Most cases of mesothelioma occur due to the person being exposed at some point in their life to asbestos, usually through their occupation. The toxic dust particles can also stay trapped on clothing which can then be inhaled by the families of workers.
According to the Roswell Park Cancer Institute, a person’s risk of developing mesothelioma increases dramatically if they work in certain industries where asbestos is present. Construction, factory workers, firefighters, plumbers and automobile mechanics are all at an increased risk of developing the disease as they are more likely to come into contact with asbestos.
Asbestos is present in many old public and private buildings and any repair or demolition work may leave people vulnerable to asbestos dust exposure.
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