Although there is no known cause for mesothelioma, it has been noted that those who have been exposed to asbestos in one way or another are at a significantly greater risk of contracting the disease. Exposure to asbestos has been known to cause a number of ailments including pleural mesothelioma and peritoneal mesothelioma. These two forms of mesothelioma are caused by the inhalation and repeated irritation of the lining of the pleura due to asbestos. Other causes of mesothelioma include cigarette and cigar smoking, exposure to some types of detergents, and certain types of air pollution. One study estimates that nearly 5 million people in the United States are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year.
There are many different possible causes of mesothelioma, but the most common type of mesothelioma causes are due to genetic mutations. These genetic mutations can affect cells throughout the body and result in cancerous growths. There are several different types of genetic mutations, and mesothelioma can be caused by any one of them.
Viruses and bacteria are some of the leading causes of mesothelioma, as they are known to cause the cells to mutate into other shapes and sizes. The virus that causes the condition, known as a lentinum infection, can be contracted internally, by inhalation, or by skin contact. Rubbing the eyes with a mineral deposit, such as erionite, which also contains asbestos, is another likely means of acquiring the illness.
Mesothelioma can also be caused by genetic changes within the cells themselves. These mesothelioma causes are not fully understood, but they are believed to result from abnormal gene transcription patterns, whereby some genes turn on themselves or off, without notice. Some of these genetic changes, called insertional mutations, cause specific areas of the lung tissue to divide abnormally, or they may interfere with the production of certain cells.
The most common type of mesothelioma causes is due to asbestos exposure, which can be either direct or indirect. Direct exposure occurs when the worker becomes exposed to asbestos fibers, either through an open wound or other means. Indirect exposure occurs when the worker is undergoing chemotherapy, which may loosen the fibrous tissue, leading to microscopic leaks. Other indirect mesothelioma causes include excessive exposure to radiation and chemicals used in the manufacturing process. While these conditions are not directly linked to any particular risk factor, the overall health of the patient is affected, even if the exposure to the carcinogens does not directly produce the disease.
Like all other forms of cancer, mesothelioma can be diagnosed by a number of different techniques. A chest X-ray may reveal evidence of the disease in the lining of the lungs. An imaging study may reveal unusual cellular features, or masses on the lining of the lungs. When the disease has reached the third stage, biopsies taken from the mesothelium will provide information about the extent of the damage. If the disease is caught at this early stage, doctors can save the patient by cutting out the cancerous cells or treating the site with drugs that repel cancerous cells.