What are the common causes of mesothelioma? Mesothelioma or cancer of the mesothelium is one among many different types of cancer that afflict men. The word mesothelioma derives from the Greek word also meaning “space”. Mesothelioma can be traced to various historical periods. The first recorded incidence of mesothelioma was in 8 CG from the plague. Mesothelioma has been known to afflict men even before the advent of modern medicine.
Malignant mesothelioma can be traced to various historical periods. The first documented incident of malignant mesothelioma was in 8 CG from the plague. It was identified as the result of the inhalation of fibers from asbestos during cremation. Inhalation of asbestos fibers is a usual practice for most asbestos-producing industries. Though inhaling the fibers may not always lead to malignant mesothelioma, exposure to asbestos fibers increases the risk of contracting malignant mesothelioma in the future.
Other mesothelioma causes include exposure to toxic chemicals. In recent years, this has been identified as a cause of malignant mesothelioma among workers who work in industries manufacturing chemical products. The most common source of toxic chemicals is in the manufacture of paints, varnishes, rubber gloves, insulation, flame retardants, solvents, adhesives, pesticides, and more. Exposure to such chemicals may occur in the workplace either through direct contact or through inhalation of microscopic particles. Additionally, exposure to these chemicals may occur via ingestion when they become airborne. Inhaled chemicals become lodged in the lungs, causing cancerous cells to develop.
One of the new mesothelioma causes identified recently involves genetic mutations caused by exposure to asbestos. When the material breaks down and becomes microscopic, it produces microscopic fibers which can be breathed in and deposited on the lung tissue. Over time, these fibers intermingle with the existing cells of the body. These cells begin to reproduce too quickly, leading to malignancy. It is unknown yet how genetic mutations brought about by asbestos exposure occur. However, studies have shown that the most common genetic mutation is the increased production of abnormal fibers.
Mesothelioma fibers also travel to the lungs via the blood. They can make their way to the abdomen where they lodge, eventually causing mesothelioma in the pleura, the peritoneum or the lining of the abdominal cavity. This condition affects the heart, lungs and possibly the brain. Some cases have resulted in asbestosis, a disease that causes the walls of the lungs to calcify, causing scarring and reduced functioning of the organs. Other consequences of mesothelioma in the lungs include pleural effusions, which are fluid-filled pockets in the chest caused by inflammation of the surrounding tissue, as well as pericarditis, which is an inflammation of the heart lining.
All these conditions can cause death if not properly treated. Unfortunately, many people exposed to asbestos do not show any signs or symptoms. In fact, most people exposed to the substance have little or no identifiable exposure history. The best course of action is for people exposed to the substance to seek prompt professional medical care from their doctor or health care professional.