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Mesothelioma and Pleural Disease Risks and Prevention

Mesothelioma, or pleural disease is a rare cancer that affects the mesothelium, with approximately 2,000 to 3,000 new cases diagnosed each year in the Unites States. There are several risk factors associated with the development of mesothelioma. Having one of the following risk factors, or even several, does not mean that you will get cancer.

Risk factors for mesothelioma include:

  • Asbestos exposure, accounting for up to 80% of all cases
  • Living with someone who works with asbestos, because asbestos particles can travel on skin and clothing
  • Radiation exposure, particularly to the radioactive substance thorium dioxide
  • A family history of mesothelioma

Where Does Asbestos Exposure Occur?

Occupational asbestos exposure is the most common cause of mesothelioma, especially within factory, construction, mining, shipbuilding, other manufacturing industries and among veterans and mechanics.

Asbestos exposure can also occur through the disturbance of asbestos-containing materials, such as when building materials begin to degrade over time or through the removal of such materials during re-modeling or construction. Environmental asbestos exposure occurs when naturally occurring asbestos found in soil and rocks is released into the air through either human activity or weathering.