Malignant mesothelioma is cancer that affects the layer of tissue covering your internal organs. In most cases, people who have mesothelioma have mesothelioma in their lungs due to asbestos exposure.
Nowadays, the U.S. bans the use of asbestos in insulation and construction, but it can take up to 60 years for mesothelioma to develop following exposure. How do you know if you have a risk of developing the condition?
Did you have asbestos exposure?
Asbestos is a naturally occurring, fire-resistant mineral. For decades, people used asbestos in insulation, shingles, brakes, flooring and other products. When you disturb the asbestos, the dust becomes dangerous. Inhaling the dust can cause it to settle in your stomach or lungs. Over time, the irritation can lead to mesothelioma.
If you have a history of asbestos exposure, you have a higher chance of developing the condition yourself. The types of workers more likely to develop mesothelioma include:
- Shipyard workers
- Brake mechanics
All employers should warn you if you have a risk of asbestos exposure.
Did any of your family members have mesothelioma?
You may be more prone to developing cancer if you have a family history of cancer. Additionally, if you have family members who have mesothelioma, you have a higher risk of developing the disease yourself.
Likewise, second-hand exposure can also result in mesothelioma. For example, if you live with someone who works with asbestos, the asbestos can stay on his or her clothes. When you live with someone who works with asbestos for many years, your chance of developing mesothelioma increases.