What Are the Main Causes of Mesothelioma?


Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that affects the mesothelial cells, which line the lungs, chest wall, and abdomen. The disease is caused by exposure to asbestos and other related substances, and it can take several years or even decades for symptoms to manifest. In this article, we will explore the main causes of mesothelioma and provide valuable information for anyone who has been affected by this debilitating illness.

What is Mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is a rare but deadly form of cancer that affects the mesothelial cells. These cells are responsible for lining the organs of the body, such as the lungs, heart, and abdomen. When these cells become malignant, they can invade and damage nearby tissues and organs, leading to life-threatening complications.

What are the Main Causes of Mesothelioma?

The primary cause of mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral that was widely used in construction and manufacturing during the 20th century. When asbestos fibers are disturbed, they can become airborne and be inhaled or ingested, leading to cellular damage and the development of cancerous cells over time.

There are several risk factors that increase the likelihood of developing mesothelioma, including:

Risk Factors
Exposure to asbestos
Occupational exposure to asbestos
Family history of mesothelioma
Age (typically occurs in people over 65)
Gender (men are more likely to develop mesothelioma)
Smoking or exposure to tobacco smoke
Exposure to radiation or other toxins

Occupational Exposure to Asbestos

One of the most common causes of mesothelioma is occupational exposure to asbestos. Workers in industries such as construction, shipbuilding, and manufacturing are particularly at risk, as they may come into contact with asbestos fibers on a daily basis. Additionally, family members of these workers may also be at increased risk due to second-hand exposure from contaminated clothing or work materials.

Non-occupational Exposure to Asbestos

While occupational exposure is the most common cause of mesothelioma, non-occupational exposure can also occur through various sources, such as:

– Living near asbestos mines or factories

– Living in a building that contains asbestos

– DIY home renovations or repairs that involve asbestos-containing materials

Smoking and Mesothelioma

While smoking is not a direct cause of mesothelioma, it can increase the risk of developing the disease in people who have been exposed to asbestos. Smoking weakens the lungs and makes it harder for the body to clear asbestos fibers, which can lead to increased cellular damage and a higher risk of developing mesothelioma.

Family History and Genetics

While mesothelioma is not considered to be a hereditary disease, there is evidence to suggest that genetics may play a role in some cases. People with a family history of mesothelioma may be at increased risk of developing the disease due to inherited genetic mutations. However, more research is needed to fully understand the connection between genetics and mesothelioma.

Symptoms of Mesothelioma

Symptoms of mesothelioma can take decades to develop after exposure to asbestos, and they can vary depending on the location and stage of the cancer. Common symptoms include:

– Chest pain or tightness

– Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

– Persistent cough

– Fatigue or weakness

– Unexplained weight loss

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What is mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is a rare but deadly form of cancer that affects the mesothelial cells, which line the lungs, chest wall, and abdomen.

2. What causes mesothelioma?

The primary cause of mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos and other related substances.

3. Who is at risk of developing mesothelioma?

Occupational exposure to asbestos, family history of mesothelioma, and age are all risk factors for developing mesothelioma. Men are also more likely to develop the disease than women.

4. Can mesothelioma be treated?

While there is no known cure for mesothelioma, treatment options such as surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy may help to improve prognosis and quality of life.

5. How is mesothelioma diagnosed?

Diagnosis of mesothelioma can be difficult due to the disease’s long latency period and nonspecific symptoms. Tests such as X-rays, CT scans, and biopsies may be used to confirm a diagnosis.

6. Can mesothelioma be prevented?

Preventing mesothelioma involves avoiding exposure to asbestos and other related substances whenever possible. If you work in an industry that may involve asbestos exposure, be sure to follow proper safety protocols and wear protective gear.

7. Is asbestos still used today?

While the use of asbestos has declined significantly in recent years, it is still being used in a limited capacity in certain industries. In many countries, such as the United States, the use of asbestos in products has been banned or heavily restricted due to its health risks.

8. What are the long-term effects of asbestos exposure?

Asbestos exposure can lead to a variety of health problems, including mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis. These conditions can cause permanent lung damage and may be fatal in some cases.

9. What should I do if I have been exposed to asbestos?

If you believe you have been exposed to asbestos, it is important to seek medical attention immediately. Your doctor can perform tests to determine if you have been affected and can advise you on the best course of action going forward.

10. How can I support someone with mesothelioma?

Supporting someone with mesothelioma involves providing emotional support, offering practical assistance with daily tasks, and helping them to navigate the medical system. You can also help by raising awareness about the disease and advocating for better research and treatment options.

11. Can mesothelioma be cured?

Currently, there is no known cure for mesothelioma. However, there are various treatment options available that can help to improve prognosis and quality of life.

12. Is mesothelioma contagious?

No, mesothelioma is not contagious and cannot be spread from person to person.

13. How common is mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is rare, with only a few thousand cases diagnosed each year in the United States. However, the disease can be particularly deadly due to its aggressive nature and resistance to traditional cancer treatments.


Mesothelioma is a devastating illness that can have lifelong implications for those who are affected by it. While it is primarily caused by exposure to asbestos, there are other risk factors that can increase the likelihood of developing the disease. As such, it is important to be aware of these risk factors and take steps to reduce your exposure whenever possible. If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, it is important to seek medical attention immediately and explore all available treatment options. Together, we can work towards a future where mesothelioma is no longer a threat to public health.


The content provided in this article is for informational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice. The author and publisher do not accept any responsibility for any loss, injury, or damage incurred by the use of this information. If you have any concerns about your health or well-being, please consult a qualified healthcare provider.