Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that occurs in the mesothelium, a thin layer of tissue that covers most internal organs.
Two to three thousand people are diagnosed each year in the United States with mesothelioma. The areas of the body affected are:
Pleural mesothelioma affects the tissue surrounding the lungs and is the most common form of this disease is observed
Peritoneal mesothelioma affects the surrounding tissue of the abdomen
Pericardial mesothelioma affects the tissue surrounding the heart
Mesothelioma of the tunica vaginalis occurs in the lining of the testicles
Asbestos exposure is the main factor of risk for mesothelioma, with workers who handle asbestos fibers at greater risk. Those who can find asbestos fibers include, but are not limited to:
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The employees of chemical plants
The dust created when asbestos fibers are handled may be deposited in the lungs or abdomen if swallowed or inhaled. The presence of asbestos fibers can cause irritation that result in mesothelioma, in spite of how this process occurs is not fully understood by the medical community. The risk of mesothelioma increases in those exposed to high levels of asbestos fibers, those exposed for a long period of time and people exposed to a relatively young age. It is known that can take decades for a person to develop mesothelioma as a result of exposure to asbestos.