Mesothelioma is a serious and rare form of cancer that forms within the mesothelial tissue. This particular tissue lines many of the body cavities including the abdominal cavity, the thoracic cavity and the pericardium. Mesothelioma can therefore spread to various organs. Genetic mutations occur in the cells and trigger them to grow and multiply uncontrollably.
While it is still not completely known what the actual causes of mesothelioma cancer are, researchers have established that exposure to asbestos is a definite and chief cause. The fibers of asbestos cause mesothelioma because they end up in the stomach and lungs. Generally, a person doesn’t develop mesothelioma until 30 or 40 years after asbestos exposure. Usually, the asbestos exposure that causes mesothelioma happens during the mining process or when during the removal process such as when shingles or insulation are removed. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to tell if it will lead to mesothelioma or not. For a majority of people who have years of asbestos exposure, it doesn’t lead to mesothelioma. On the other hand, sometimes cancer develops in people who had limited asbestos exposure.
Exposure to asbestos isn’t the only cause of mesothelioma. Researchers have looked into how other factors such as inherited conditions, other health conditions, lifestyle choices and the patient’s environment can trigger the cancer.
Another mesothelioma cause is a polio vaccine based on the simian virus 40 (SV40), a virus found in humans and monkeys. Used in the US from 1955 to 1963, the vaccine was established as a contributing factor to the development of mesothelioma.
Unfortunately, mesothelioma is a serious cancer that isn’t always treatable. The radiation and chemo aren’t always enough to eliminate mesothelioma completely. Surgery has the potential to remove the tissue and reduce the fluid buildup. A model developed in 2015 may assist with predicting which patients will receive extend their lives with surgical treatment.