Mesothelioma is known only to be caused by asbestos exposure.
Asbestos is a nature, yet toxic mineral that was used commonly in heavy
industry. Microscopic asbestos fibers enter the body through the lung or
ingestion. Once inside, the durable fibers are unable to be broken down
or expelled by the body, causing a harmful inflammation and scarring of
the mesothelium. This scarring lays the groundwork for malignant
mesothelioma and other respiratory conditions, such as asbestosis.
There is a great deal of latency
associated with asbestos exposure and the onset of mesothelioma. Often
patients will not encounter mesothelioma
symptoms until 30-50 years following exposure to asbestos. In many
cases, those diagnosed with mesothelioma are not those who were directly
exposed to asbestos in a jobsite setting. Spouses and children of those
exposed to asbestos who frequently came into contact with the fibers on
the clothing or person of those exposed have also developed malignant
mesothelioma as a result.