Mesothelioma can occur in young people (including children), but is rare in people younger than 45. About 2 out of 3 people with mesothelioma of the breast are 65 years of age or older. The typical mesothelioma patient is a man over 65 years of age with a military or blue-collar background. However, anyone with a history of exposure to asbestos is at risk. Mesothelioma is caused by exposure to asbestos.
When asbestos fibers are inhaled or ingested, they cause scarring and inflammation, which can develop into a mesothelioma tumor. Research has shown that 80% of all cases of mesothelioma are due to known exposure to asbestos. There are no other proven causes of mesothelioma. Researchers continue to investigate other possible causes and risk factors, such as exposure to the SV40 virus or minerals that look like asbestos.
Mesothelioma was practically unknown until the 20th century. Mesothelioma incidence rates increased as industries expanded use of asbestos The only proven cause of mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos. Most risk factors for mesothelioma involve different sources of exposure to asbestos Other risk factors, such as the genes you inherit or exposure to the simian virus 40, known as SV40, have not been shown to cause mesothelioma. Other potential risk factors that remain unproven causes of mesothelioma include genetic factors and exposure to radiation, zeolite minerals and polio vaccine between 1955 and 1963 that was contaminated with simian virus 40 (SV40).
Asbestos fibers take an average of 20 to 50 years to convert normal mesothelial cells into cancerous mesothelioma cells. This time lag between exposure and the development of the disease is known as the latency period. Asbestos fibers take decades to cause damage that leads to mesothelioma, but once mesothelial cells become cancerous, they can quickly form mesothelioma tumors that grow and spread within months to a few years. Occupational exposure to asbestos is the main cause of mesothelioma.
Those working with asbestos products must follow safety procedures to protect themselves and decontamination protocols to avoid secondary exposure to asbestos among family members they live with. According to the American Cancer Society, 80% of mesothelioma cases are due to known exposure to asbestos. Studies have shown that radiation treatment for other types of cancer or certain genetic markers may increase the risk of developing mesothelioma. However, asbestos is still the only proven cause of the disease.
Construction workers, firefighters, industrial workers, power plant workers and shipyard workers are most at risk of exposure to asbestos. If you are looking for support for mesothelioma, contact our patient advocates at (85) 404-4592. Mesothelioma is diagnosed more often in men than in women. Scientists believe that the difference in incidence rates is due to men being at higher risk of occupational exposure during increased use of asbestos. Most people exposed to asbestos never develop mesothelioma.
This indicates that other factors may be involved in determining if a person has mesothelioma. For example, you could inherit a predisposition to cancer or some other condition could increase your risk. The lining of the chest cavity and lungs (pleura) is the most common site for mesothelioma and accounts for more than 85% of cases. The lining of the abdomen (peritoneum) is the second most common site and accounts for approximately 10% of all cases.
Approximately 250 new cases of peritoneal mesothelioma occur each year in the United States. .