What is Mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is a form of cancer. It attacks the lining around the lungs – the pleura – and is often termed a ‘pleural cancer.’ Other people just call it lung cancer. It comes from exposure to asbestos. In the past, people didn’t know that asbestos was dangerous, so they used it for insulation in homes, businesses, and ships, as well as for other applications. The people who worked with it breathed in the fibers because they were so light and floated in the air. Some of those asbestos fibers also clung to the skin, hair, and clothing of people who worked with the substance, and they carried those fibers home to their spouses and children. Some of those people got sick from indirect exposure as well.

When it was discovered that mesothelioma came from asbestos, people started being more careful when it came to their asbestos exposure. They wore respirators, they protected their clothing, and they started removing asbestos insulation from places where it had been used in the past. That helped them, their families, and anyone who lived or worked in places where asbestos would have been present but was now removed. It protected a lot of people, but because it can take from 20 to 50 years for mesothelioma to develop after asbestos exposure there are still people getting sick. These people can’t reduce or remove their risk, but getting regular screenings and checkups could help them prolong their lives.

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