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Mesothelioma – Causes, Symptoms, Prevention, Treatment & More

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Asbestos

There is one substance in particular that is definitively implicated in the occurrence of mesothelioma, and that is asbestos. Asbestos is a silicate mineral used widely in the past for construction and fireproofing purposes. This was partly due to the fact that it is a good conductor of electricity and that it is highly resistant to heat. Asbestos wasn’t well known in the past, but massive mining operations in the past century put the material under the spotlight because of the appearance of large numbers of miners and construction workers who suffered from diseases caused by prolonged exposure to asbestos dust. Asbestos use was thus eventually outlawed in most countries. The incidence of mesothelioma therefore has predictably been increasing ever since asbestos usage became commonplace. One factor that complicated this point is that people who are exposed to asbestos for a prolonged period do not develop mesothelioma quickly. The time interval between exposure to the carcinogen and developing a mesothelioma is usually measured in decades. This explains the appearance of mesothelioma patients in areas where asbestos use became illegal. They are manifesting the effects of prolonged asbestos exposure years later. This is why one of the first questions a doctor will ask his/her patient is their occupational history to figure out if they had been exposed to a carcinogenic substance like asbestos chronically.

It should also be mentioned that mesothelioma is not the only lung disease that is caused by asbestos. Indeed, it can also cause a non-cancerous condition known as asbestosis.

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