Lung cancer is the deadliest cancer in the country, but it is also the most preventable. Largely caused by exposure to tobacco smoke and asbestos, this disease will kill an estimated 155,000 people this year. In an effort to create awareness and hopefully prevention, we will be sharing information about lung cancer on our blog throughout the month of November.
Mesothelioma is a specific type of cancer overwhelmingly caused by exposure to asbestos. It involves mesothelial cells which form the very thin linings/membranes surrounding and encasing the lungs, heart, abdominal cavity, and gonads. These linings are called the serosal membranes or mesothelium. After a person inhales or ingests asbestos fibers, those fibers reach the mesothelium where they cause genetic errors of the mesothelial cells that comprise the membranes. This results in daughter cells without the ability to control cell growth. This loss of controlled cell growth can lead to cancer of the mesothelial cells, which is mesothelioma.
Asbestos is a naturally-occurring, fibrous mineral that has been used in various consumer products for decades. In fact, its use dates back more than 4,000 years ago. However, starting in the late 1800s, it became well understood in medicine, science, and industry that asbestos dust from any source was deadly. In addition, many asbestos manufacturers were aware of the serious health issues surrounding asbestos but kept the information secret.