Asbestosis and mesothelioma are both diseases caused by exposure to asbestos, but they are not the same. Asbestosis is a non-cancerous condition that affects the lungs and respiratory tract, while mesothelioma is an incurable cancer that develops in mesothelial tissue, usually in the lungs and abdomen. Studies have shown that asbestosis may increase the likelihood of developing lung cancer in the future, and even cause mesothelioma. Research has revealed that 80% of all cases of mesothelioma are due to known exposure to asbestos.
Asbestos fibers take an average of 20 to 50 years to convert normal mesothelial cells into cancerous mesothelioma cells, which is known as the latency period. Once mesothelial cells become cancerous, they can quickly form mesothelioma tumors that grow and spread within months to a few years. Other potential risk factors for mesothelioma remain unproven, such as genetic factors and exposure to radiation, zeolite minerals and polio vaccine between 1955 and 1963 that was contaminated with simian virus 40 (SV40). Asbestos is a mineral found naturally in the environment.
It is strong and heat resistant, making it useful in a wide variety of applications, such as insulation, brakes, shingles, flooring and many other products. Asbestosis occurs when inhaling asbestos dust, which allows microscopic asbestos fibers to settle in the lungs. The only proven cause of mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos. Most risk factors for mesothelioma involve different sources of exposure to asbestos.
Cases of mesothelioma and asbestosis are slowly declining, as workplaces now take steps to protect their employees from exposure to harmful substances such as asbestos.If you are looking for support for mesothelioma, contact our patient advocates at (85) 404-4592.